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Jimmy Camp

     The old trail came down off the high land at the entrance to Jimmy Camp, located in what is now eastern Colorado Springs, Colorado.  The camp was named in the early 1840’s for a trader named Jimmy Daugherty. It was one of the most heavily used campgrounds along the Front Range. It was frequented in turn by Indians, Spaniards, trappers, traders, explorers, gold seekers and pioneers.


The campground at Jimmy Camp



Juan de Ulibarri, July-August 1706.
     The Spanish commander Ulibarri called Jimmy Camp Ojo de Nuestra Senora de Buen Suceso (Spring of our Lady of Good Luck) to celebrate finding water after a day spent wandering the arid plains east of Fountain Creek. Following a day’s rest, the 130-man expedition continued its march eastward toward the Apache villages of El Cuartelejo, leaving at the camp some eighteen jaded horses and mules. The animals were picked up on the return trip two weeks later.

     “Friday, the thirtieth (of July). We set out from the said river of San Francisco (Arkansas River) and went northeast four leagues and came to a stop on the Rio de San Buenaventura (Fountain Creek) in order to lessen the journey, for our Indian guide advised us that we would undergo much suffering because there was no water and, if any, very little and that far ahead, and that the trail was only upon open land.

     “Saturday, the thirty-first. We set out from this spot of San Buenaventura and marched to the east guided by the Indian. He took his direction from hummocks of grass placed a short distance apart on the trail by the Apaches, who lose even themselves there. In this way they had marked out the course. All of this was of no use to us, for, although the Indian took especial care, we became lost entirely.... It was the good fortune that two scouts who searched the land found water very far above from where we were. The news of this filled the whole camp with joy, and many thanks were given to God and His most holy Mother because of whose good will I ordered that spring be named E1 0jo de Nuestra Senora del Buen Suceso. After I had the Indian guide come before me, he said that he had become lost because what he was following appeared to be the best road, but that henceforth he would not mistake the way. Realizing that the animals were very badly tired out, I left eighteen mules and horses in this spot to pick up on the return, in spite of the contingency and risk that they might be carried off....

     “Sunday, August 1. We set out from the spot and the spring of Nuestra Senora del Buen Suceso ....

     “Sunday, the fifteenth (of August). We came to the Ojo de Nuestra Senora del Buen Suceso. On the road we found, without looking for them, six head of bison. By slaughtering them the whole camp was provisioned. In this spot we found the eighteen beasts which were left on the way. Because of the great deal of water there, we stopped over Monday, the sixteenth.”

Source: "Diary of the Ulibarri Expedition," After Coronado, translated and edited by Alfred Barnaby Thomas. (Norman: University of  Oklahoma Press, 1966).


Antonio de Valverde, 7 October 1719.  Governor Valverde had come up Fountain Creek with over 800 men and 1,000 horses on his way to punish marauding Ute and Comanche.  He paused at Jimmy Camp to hunt buffalo. Here he found excellent pastures, a spring of cold water, and the lodge pole trail of his enemies. Before leaving, Valverde christened the camp Santa Rosa.

     “On the seventh of this month of October, the senor governor with the command set out...and...arrived at a canyon in which there were sandy creeks. The senor governor called it Santa Rosa. It has many good pastures.... They went down to the canyon and creeks and upon entering therein they met some herds of buffalo, so that the whole camp was provided with meat. His lordship went hunting and on this occasion more than twelve head were killed. Farther down a spring was found from which a little pond was formed. The chaplain called it San Ignacio, and as soon as the camp was made on this spot and creeks, Chief Carlana went to examine some tracks he had seen. He found that their enemies, the Utes and Commanches, had ranched on that spot. He recognized that they had set up more than sixty tents. and following the trail along the road by which they set out, he found at a little distance the track of the tent poles which they were dragging along. He reported this information to the governor, who appreciated it greatly and rewarded him with meat and flour. This made him very happy. Along the shoulder of a hill close by, there was found a herd of bison which, according to appearances, must have numbered more than two hundred head. The governor ordered that it should not be hunted, since the enemy might hear it if it were frightened. Because there was no wood in this spot, a cook fire was made with buffalo chips, of which there was an abundance. On this day a soldier ran down a buffalo, but when he was about to spear it, the animal turned around with much speed that he drove the lance through the flank.

     “On the eighth of this aforesaid month, after hearing mass, the governor left this spot and marched five leagues.”

Source:   "Diary  of   Governor   Valverde," After Coronado,  translated  and  edited  by Alfred  Barnaby  Thomas.   (Norman: Univ. of  Oklahoma Press, 1966).


Rufus B. Sage, 14-18 September 1842.  Sage was the first to tell the story of Jimmy Daugherty, an Indian trader who had been murdered at the old campground. Already in 1842 the creek was called Daugherty’s Creek in the trader's memory. Before long the area became generally known as Jimmy Camp, the springs as Jimmy Springs and the creek as Jimmy Camp Creek.

     “Continuing our journey till late at night, we reached an affluent of Fontaine qui Bouit, called Daugherty's creek, after travelling a distance of some thirty miles. Here we remained for three or four days, to procure a further supply of provisions....

“Our place of stay was in a sweet little valley enclosed by piny ridges. The entrance leading to it is through a defile of hills  from
whose rugged sides protrude vast piles of rock, that afford a pass of only fifty or a hundred yards in width. An abundance of grass greets the eye, arrayed in the loveliness of summer's verdancy, and blooming wild-flowers nod to the breeze as enchantingly as when the fostering hand of spring first awoke them to life and to beauty.
     “The creek derives its name from Daugherty, a trader who was murdered upon it several years since. At the time he was on his way to the Arkansas with a quantity of goods, accompanied by a Mexican. The latter, anxious to procure a few yards of calico that constituted a part of the freight, shot him in cold blood, and hastened to Taos with his ill-gotten gains, where he unblushingly boasted of his inhuman achievement.

     “My excursions among the hills brought before me many interesting geological specimens, mostly such as characterize the Divide. I noticed two or three extensive beds of stone coal in the vicinity of the creek, with an abundance of nitre and other mineral salts.

     “Having killed three fine cows during the five days we remained at this place, the scent of fresh meat attracted an old bear and her cub, which in the expectation of a choice repast, were induced to pay us a night visit.

     “We were quietly reposing at the time, nor dreamed of the ungainly monsters within camp, till their harsh growls grated upon our ears and raised us each to a speedy consciousness. Instantly every rifle was clenched and levelled at the unwelcome intruders, and two discharges bespoke their warm reception. The bears, not fancying this new test of friendship, quickly withdrew and permitted us to resume our slumbers.

     “Fitzpatrick and Van Dusen, two old mountaineers, passed our encampment in the interim on their way to the States. Having devoted a number of years to the business of trapping, few possess a more intimate knowledge of this country than they. The former of these gentlemen was on his return from Oregon with dispatches for the U.S. Government, and had acted as pilot for a party of emigrants to that territory during the previous summer. After conducting his charge to their place of destination, he and his companion had travelled thus far alone, - a distance of more than one thousand miles.”

Source: Rocky Mountain Life by Rufus B. Sage. (Lincoln: Univ. of  Nebraska Press, 1982).


Francis Parkman, 18 August 1846.  This account comes not from Parkman’s famous book, The Oregon Trail, but from his private journals. Parkman was traveling south along the old trail after a summer spent in the vicinity of Fort Laramie. He had probably heard the story of Jimmy Daugherty from some of the traders at the fort.

     “In the afternoon, a thunder-storm gathered upon the mountains. Pike's Peak and the rest were as black as ink. We caught the edge of the storm, but it had passed by the time we arrived at Jamie's Camp, where several little streams were tumbling down to the bottom in waterfalls. Before night, the black shroud was lifted from the mts. and a bright sunset greeted us.”

Source: The Journals of Francis Parkman, ed. by Mason Wade. (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1947).


Ellen Hundley, 9 July 1856.  The Hundley’s - Ellen, her husband and seven children - were returning to Texas after a year spent in the Salt Lake City area. They reached Jimmy Camp after a hard day’s travel. There they found the grass in a “sorry” state, probably due to the recent passage of “2 arkansas trains with about 1,000 head of cattle.”

     “July 9 wednesday this morning 2 californians come back from a train we met this side of the Platte and come back with us to day we traveled 40 miles crossed black squirrel creek come over a high rolling country but good road camped at the muddy spring sorry grass”

Source: "From Utah to Texas in 1856," by Ellen Hundley. Covered Wagon Women, Vol.VII, edited and compiled by Kenneth L. Holmes. (Glendale, California: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1988).


Augustus Voorhees, 12 July 1858.  After four fruitless days spent on Camp Creek near the Garden of the Gods, the gold seekers from Lawrence were on their way to join the Russell Party at the mouth of Cherry Creek. They nooned at Jimmy Camp. Here they met all but a few of the Russell Party, returning discouraged to the States. The two parties discussed the situation, then decided to give the Pikes Peak region another look. All returned together to Camp Creek.

     “12. We broke up camp and struck east for the old road. We got to what is called Jims Camp. There is a fine spring and lots of pine wood there. It is on the Cherokee Trail, to Californy. There we found that the party above us had gone back, when they came to the place where we left the road they stoped and sent some horsemen up to our camp, and they followed us and took dinner with us. We sent three men with them to their camp, and they concluded to join us at our old camp, and prospect the mountains together. They found some gold on Cherry creek, but it was so fine they could not seperate it from the sand, and not enough to make it pay. There were some fifty-six men of them, some Cherokees and some from Mo and Ga. Some old mineirs.”

Source:"Diary of Augustus Voorhees," Pike's Peak Gold Rush Guidebooks of 1859, ed. by LeRoy R. Hafen. (Glendale, Calif.: The Arthur H. Clark Co., 1941).


David Kellogg, 28 October 1858.  Gold seeker David Kellogg mistook Jimmy Camp Creek for the headwaters of the Kansas River. As a matter of fact, the creek does not flow east at all, but rather south. It enters Fountain Creek near the present town of Fountain, Colorado.

     “Arrived at Jim's camp and corralled on a hill side at a spring backed by some projecting ledges, a few pines and some bushes. It is said that a trader called Jim was murdered here by the Indians. The little stream here must be the head-waters of the Kaw as it flows easterly; if so I can almost drink the Kaw River dry at this point.”

Source: "Across the Plains in 1858," by David Kellogg. The Trail, Vol. V, No.7 (December, 1912).


Samuel D. Raymond, 30 May 1859.  It has been estimated that perhaps as many as 20,000 gold seekers passed through Jimmy Camp in the late spring and early summer of 1859. Little wonder then that the Raymond Party noticed a scarcity of dried wood for their campfires.

     “Encamped near the woods & drank for the first time in a great while some good clear cold spring-water. I found it was a delicious change after drinking muddy river water for some weeks. To day we fell in with a train of 22 waggons. They are all encamped near us. Wood here is scarce. Grass quite good.”

Source: "Samuel D. Raymond Journal," edited by Lloyd W. Gundy. Wagon Tracks, Vol.10, No.1 (November, 1995).


Dr. George M. Willing, 9 June 1859.  At Jimmy Camp Dr. Willing helped to bury his fellow gold seeker and patient, Thomas Alexander. For a short time thereafter the camp was sometimes referred to as Alexander’s Grave.

     "At Jim's Sprinq, fifty miles south of Auraria, on Thursday, June 9th, we deposited in their last resting place, the remains of Thomas Alexander, from Montgomery county, Missouri. He had been ill nine days of bilious remittent fever and though every attention was bestowed on him that circumstances permitted, yet nothing could avert the fatal shaft. His death made a painful gap in our little party, for he had been a general favorite with the whole train. We buried him beneath the shadow of the Peak he had toiled so anxiously to reach. It seemed a pity he could not have been spared only a little longer.

     "At Jim's Spring is a fine grove of pine timber, of sufficient size for all needed purposes. The spring itself furnishes sufficient water for irrigating about one hundred acres of land, and is the only water within a number of miles. Settlements will soon be made at all such points. The land is tillable and would be productive, the climate is delightful, timber is abundant, and grass of excellent quality grows even on the ridges. Such a country for game I have never seen. Antelope are almost constantly in sight. Mountain sheep abound among the hills, and herds of deer may also constantly be seen grazing or seeking refuge beneath the trees from the noontide heats.”

Source: "Diary of a Journey to the Pike's Peak Gold Mines in 1859," by Dr. George M. Willing. Edited by Ralph P. Beiber. The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol.XIV (June 1927-March, 1938).


A.M. Gass, 11 June 1859.  Gold seeker A.M. Gass arrived at Jimmy Camp just two days after the burial of Thomas Alexander. His noted date of 12 April 1857 for the marker above the freshly dug grave can only be explained by the fact that Gass did not make this entry into his diary until the evening of 11 June, when his party was already encamped at the edge of Black Forest. Gass’ powers of recall - after a hard day’s travel - had evidently failed him.

     “We nooned, today, at a spring of the coldest and best water that I have seen on the route. It is known as Jimmy spring, or Alexander's grave; a Missouri man, by the latter name, having been buried here on the twelfth of april, 1857.”

Overland Routes to the Gold Fields, 1859, ed. by LeRoy R. Hafen. (Glendale, Calif.: The Arthur H. Clark Co., 1942).


Ellen Hunt, 24 June 1859.  Mrs. Hunt had been sick most of the way up the Santa Fe Trail. Large purple blotches had formed on her body, blotches which Grandpa had called “Erysipalis.” Whatever it might have been, the disease confined Ellen inside the wagon most of the way. By the time the party had turned onto the Cherokee Trail, Ellen had begun to feel better; up Fountain Creek her spirits had begun to soar; by the time her party reached Jimmy Camp she was ready to homestead.

     “June 24. Had a splendid view of the mountains for several miles. Begin to see finer country. Passed one fine location for a farm, beautiful prairies on a soil much like Pigin Prairie, with grove of pine convenient. Camped near one and beside an elegant spring.”

Source: "Diary of Mrs. A.C. Hunt, 1859," ed. by LeRoy R. Hafen. Colorado Magazine, Vol.XXI (September, 1944).


Charles C. Post, 25 June 1859.  Post was a gold seeking lawyer from Decatur, Illinois.

     “Saturday, June 25th. This morning Dr. Rease's ox being unable to move, the train concluded to encamp about eight miles up the creek for four or five days. So Cutter and myself agreed to go to Denver City, and having filled a sack with bread, crackers, some tea and dried fruit, we set out, struck divide road and at noon stopped at Jimmy's camp to bait our horses and selves. This is a splendid camp, a very large spring is here almost equal to Diamond Spring ....”

Source: "Diary of Charles C. Post," Overland Routes to the Gold Fields, 1859, ed. by Leroy R. Hafen. (Glendale, Calif.: The Arthur H. Clark Co., 1942).



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