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City of Denver

This article appeared in

Vol. LXXVI—No. 456
Pages 944-957

Transcribed for the COGenWeb Project City & County of Denver
by Leona L. Gustafson


            Nearly six hundred miles west of the Missouri River, and almost in the shadow of the Rocky Mountain range, there has grown, from a small and insignificant settlement, a city that to-day is the largest and perhaps the most famous of any in the great middle West.  No one would have dared claim for Denver, a quarter of a century ago, the proud position that it holds at this time.  Then it was a mere village, without wealth, without influence, remote, and unsightly.  Now it is a metropolis, a centre of refinement, a place rich in itself, influential, and the admiration of all beholders.  More than keeping pace with the phenomenal growth of a region that is still in its infancy, so far as development is concerned, it has lost no opportunity, has neglected no chance.  Active, keenly alive, progressive, and vigorous, it has turned to its own account the fortunes of the State of which it is the capital, and has secured for itself by every means in its power the reputation it to-day enjoys.  When the history of the Far West is written, and the causes of the growth and development which we now applaud are analyzed and brought to light, it will be seen that Denver has often been the power behind the throne.  Her capital and her people have protected new ventures, kept alive the confidence in the future of the State.  In the days when there were no railways across the plains, when the Indians, rebellious and deceitful, disputed the progress of every emigrant train, Denver never wavered, and her handful of settlers never lost heart.  Through days of financial disaster, through all vicissitudes, there can be found no diminution of the faith that at last has been rewarded by the growth of a great city in close proximity to the region that as long ago as 1806 tempted the valiant Pike to cross the unknown plains lying beyond the muddy waters of the Missouri.  Like a romance is the story of Colorado’s growth and not less so is that of the growth of Denver.  We miss finding in its history the fanciful doings of Spanish adventurer and pious padre.  No fierce wars were ever waged for its possession, no glittering pageants were ever held in the long wide streets, with their vista of mountains and plains.  There was little that was poetical, but much that was practical.  Still the story is as interesting as though there had been these well-worn episodes to draw upon and to magnify and render picturesque, for the tale is of how man came to a wilderness and lived down all trials and all disappointments; how he fought against great odds and battled with hardships, and came out victorious.  And if we are not satisfied with the practical realities presented, and still desire some glitter of gold to lighten the narrative, we have but to turn to the mountains.  In their wild fastnesses will be found the foundation of all the romance we wish.

            At Denver Junction a little more that half-way between Omaha and Denver, the Union Pacific sends a branch line southward to Denver.  It is now that one begins to look eagerly westward for a sight of the Rocky Mountains.  At last they appear.  First the highest peaks, each white with snow, loom into view, and then one after another of the great blue-hued shoulders of the range is seen.  At last the whole bulky wall lifts itself high above the level of the far-reaching plains, and one is face to face with the mountains that have tempted so vast an army across the six hundred miles of rolling plains.  No pen can ever do justice to the beauties of the Rockies; no artist can paint them as they really are.  They do not impress one at the first as being mountains; they are more like islands, with the prairie as the ocean.  Their coloring is exquisite—a deep rich blue, with here and there a bit of crimson and snowy white.  It was well toward evening before we were near enough to define the contour or separate the foot-hills from the main range, and the shadows of night soon shut from sight all but the higher summits.  They, however, were rosy read in the rays of sunset, and stood gleaming out of the gathering darkness like huge heaps of phosphorus.

            In going westward from the Missouri one constantly gains a higher elevation, until at Denver he is nearly 6000 feet above the level of the sea.  Each day the blueness of the Colorado sky becomes intensified.  As we neared Denver the lights of that city blazed out at us from the top of the high poles from which they are suspended.  It seemed almost impossible that the station we reached should be that of a place which so short a time ago was nothing more that a frontier town; and as we drove through the brilliantly lighted streets to our hotel, there was nothing to suggest that we were so far from home, and at last had reached the base of the Rocky Mountains.

            It is not an easy matter to describe Denver.  It is so similar to other cities, in many respects, that one feels doubtful about the propriety or the necessity of mentioning many of it is prominent features, and is in danger of forgetting that what may seem only ordinary, is in reality most extraordinary.  If the city were less substantial in appearance than it is, if it possessed certain glaring peculiarities, it would be much easier to describe it.  But it so belies its age, and seems so much older than it really is, that one falls to taking for granted that which should be surprising.  Wide, shaded, and attractive-looking

streets, handsome residences surrounded by spacious grounds, noble public buildings, and the many luxuries of city life, tempt one to forget that Denver has gained all these excellencies in less than twenty-five years.  Every tree that one sees has been planted and tended; every attractive feature is the result of good judgment and careful industry.  Nature gave Denver the mountains which the city looks out upon; but beyond those hills and the bright sky and the limitless plains, she gave nothing to the place which one has only to see to admire.  The site originally was a barren waste, dry and hilly.  Never was it green, except perchance in early spring, and not a tree grew, save a few low bushes clinging to the banks of the river.  Surrounded on the east, south, and north by the extended prairie lands, fast being converted into productive farms, and having on the west the mountains with their treasures of gold, silver, coal, iron, and lead, Denver is the natural concentrator of the productions of Colorado.  From it are sent forth the capital, the machinery, and the thousand and one other necessities of a constantly increasing number of people engaged in developing a new country.

            From Capitol Hill, a rounded height formerly on the eastern outskirts of Denver, but now not far from it center, is obtained the best view of the city.  The scene is one that will never change.  Rapid as the progress in the State has been, the mountains remain, as of old, high, stately, beautiful, their loftier summits capped with snow, and their wooded sides rich with coloring.  At one’s feet, however, the contrast between the present and the past is most marked.  Gone are the sanded gardens with their weeds; the cabins of earlier days are nowhere to be found.  A city lies grouped around the hill—a city of wide, shaded streets and stately buildings.  From the height you can look down upon the score of church steeples and the flat roofs of business blocks.  The murmur of the activity below creeps up to you, and in the distance lie the sea-like plains, no longer dry and brown, but dotted with farms and the bright new houses of those who have come to the West and accepted it as their home.

            The history of Denver is interesting rather than eventful.  It was born of the first Pike’s Peak gold excitement in 1858-9, and in 1860 was simply a straggling camp of log cabins and tents.  From this time the population of what is now Colorado in creased with phenomenal rapidity.  In August, 1860, there were as many as 60,000 people engaged in mining, and 175 quartz-mills had been erected, at a cost of $1,800.000.  Denver during this era became the acknowledged base of supplies.  The camp was centrally located, and was, moreover, a station on the Ben Holliday route across the continent.  When the mining excitement subsided, as it had by 1865, Denver was too firmly established to be materially affected by the change in the fortunes of the State.  Its population, indeed, was considerably larger than when the excitement ran highest.  While many of the districts failed to meet the expectations once held regarding them, there were a few that proved richer than had been anticipated.  Among these was the Clear Creek territory, forty miles west of Denver.  The towns, or camps, in that district continued to hold their own, and were the main-stay of the settlement near the junction of Cherry Creek and the Platte.  To Central City, Black Hawk, and Georgetown, Denver may be said to owe its continuance during that period when the future of Colorado was most uncertain.  Had they failed, and had the mines there proved unproductive, it may well be doubted if Denver could have maintained its existence.



            “The Queen City of the Plains,” as the Denverites fondly call their much-admired city, has not escaped its trials and disappointments.  In 1873 the financial shadow in the East swept across the plains and blackened many a Western project, and in ’75 and ’76 the grasshopper plague, by which all crops were destroyed, caused large sums of money to be drawn from Denver to pay for wheat and flour.  The banks were seriously cramped during this unfortunate time, and all speculation ended.  But the failures, after all, were few and unimportant, and the faithful only worked the harder to prove that Colorado was the centre of vast wealth.

            In 1877 the cloud lifted.  The harvest was abundant, the export of beeves was the largest ever known.  More than $15,000,000 was added to the wealth of the miners, stockmen, and farmers.  Speculation revived.  Money became easy, and confidence wide-spread.  Capital poured into the State, and there was a development of industries never known before.  Leadville was born and flourished.  Its fame was world-wide.  Fortunes there were made in a day.  He who had a dollar in invest sought Colorado securities.  Railways fought for the right of way to mining towns, and the plains were dotted with wagon trains again bearing people to the new El Dorado.

            And then, in 1883, came the inevitable reaction.  The pulse of trade and speculation had beat too rapidly.  The pace could not be maintained.  Some ventures failed, and others were abandoned because of these failures.  The reckless suddenly became conservative.  Investors hesitated it invest.  Loans were called, and a depression of values followed.  But considering the advance that had been scored, the retrograde movement was immaterial.  In the language of the stock exchanges, it was a “healthy reaction,” and eventually did more good than harm. It enabled men to rest and to think.  There was time given to study the situation. By the end of 1886 confidence slowly returned.  In reviewing that year it was evident that the State had again entered upon a season of prosperity.  And in sympathy Denver’s sun shone once more, and its clouds were dispersed.  By January, 1887, the tide had perceptibly turned.  The activity in commercial circles became greater than ever.  Old valuations were more than re-established , and the population was nearly 70,000.  It was found that the mines had produced a grand total of over $26,000,000 in 1886, and therefore mining received a new impetus.  In 1885 permits for the erection of 403 new improvements in Denver were issued by the Building Inspector; in 1886 he issued 709 permits, the cost o the improvements being $2,000,661.  In 1885 the total valuation of the State was $115, 450,193 90; in 1886 it was $124,269,710 06; and in 1887 amounted to $141,314,329, the greatest gain being in Arapahoe County.  Among the banks of Denver the year 1886 showed the surplus funds and undivided profits had decreased $128,945 26 as compared with 1885, and the deposits had increased $2,107,633 02, or twenty-three per cent.  The loads and overdrafts had also increased twenty-three per cent.  The welcome facts

Giving assurance of progress, and which showed a more healthy condition of affairs in the various trades and mercantile institutions, afforded a promising outlook for the new year.  Nor, as it proved, were the signs premature or misleading.  The real-estate sales for 1887 amounted to $29,345,451 82, an increase of $18,324,242 91 over those for 1886.  Six churches, three school-houses, nearly nine hundred dwellings, several new business blocks, and thirty-five miscellaneous buildings were erected.  The total value of improvements in the city proper was $2,971,770, and for Denver and its suburbs was nearly $5,000,000.  The recently completed business blocks, among which are the henry Lee, C. B. Patterson, Tritch, and Patterson and Thomas, are among the largest and best in the city.  The new high-school was dedicated in 1887, and work on the Capitol was continued.  Many large residences were completed on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, the condition of all banks materially improved, and the year was one of phenomenal activity.

            Coming to a contemplation of the moral, social, and intellectual aspects that are presented for one’s consideration, it is apparent that the city is again almost indescribable. 

            It would be untrue to say of Denver that it was “literary to the core,” or that it was the “Athens of the West.”  So far as I know, it never claimed such distinction.  It is not a literary centre, and yet it does not want for literature.  A lecture on “Burns” might not prove so attractive as one on “Our Mines” or “Our “Commerce.” But because this is so the inference need not be drawn that a Denverite never reads, or that he does not know who Bobby Burns was.  The people of Denver have not yet gotten over being practical.  There never has been a Browning craze, and Oscar Wilde was caricatured in the streets.  There are ripe scholars and diligent readers in Denver, as in other places of equal size.  Indeed, the claim is made that there are more resident college graduates than in any other city of the same number of people.  Therefore one may be safe in believing that the literary sense is keener than would casually appear to be the case.  Ands yet in the sense that Boston is literary Denver is not.  Perhaps in the daily papers there is evidence at times of a lack of careful attention to Addison.  But when it comes to news-gathering, let the journals of the East take notice.  The history of the world’s doings is laid beside the plate of every Denverite in the morning, and no question of the day is too profound for the editor to discuss.  The three leading Denver papers are the News, Republican, and Times, the last an evening publication.  The Republican is largely owned by ex-Senator Hill, and was established about ten years ago.  The proprietor of the Times is F. S. Woodbury.  The News was first published in 1859, its office being a rudely built log cabin.  In 1866 the paper moved into quarters on Larimer Street, and remained there until 1880, when room was secured in the new Patterson and Thomas block.  Closely identified with the history of Denver, it led an eventful life in the early days of lawlessness, and more than once in danger of destruction by the calamities that threatened the young city.  The present manager, editor, and largest owner of the News is Colonel John Arkins, a well-known journalist and an indefatigable worker.

            Denver has not yet become so literary as to warrant the establishment of large publishing houses, buth there are several wholesale and retail book-stores, and in one is a list of books as large as may be found in any New York book-store.  This fact is not, perhaps, important in itself, but as evidence of the moral and intellectual growth of the city, it is.  Denver is young in years, let us remember, and is the outcome of a place having little regard for things of a bookish nature.  It is natural that many crudities should have been buried with the pioneers, and yet it is no less praiseworthy that Denver should so generally have accepted the more modern conditions of life.

            Socially, Denver may be called a charming place.  The security afforded by the active enforcement of good laws has drawn together a class of people such as is found in towns of a much more prosaic origin and greater age.  Society, in the truest sense of the word, is cosmopolitan.  There are constant arrivals and departures.  No titled foreigner feels he has seen the “Stats” if he omits Denver, and our own countrymen endeavor to visit the city during their tours of the West.  People of refinement make Denver their home for a season, and often adopt it for a lifetime.  It is astonishing at times to notice the effect of Western life upon natures long accustomed to self contemplation and esteem.  It is the air of Colorado, perhaps, that so often changes the Eastern man, and leads him to appreciate the truth of the phrase regarding general equality which the signers of the Declaration framed.  Or, if not this, then something else works the transformation, and gives us, most fortunately, a whole-souled being who is glad to see you when you pay him a visit, and who does all in his power to render your stay delightful.

            It must not be imagined, however, that with all the good-fellowship, there is not the proper amount of conservatism.  One is not waylaid upon the street and presented with the freedom of the houses he sees.  Shoddyism exists—as where does it not?—and there is a manifest delight in certain quarters to make a lavish display of newly acquired wealth.  But circles within the circle may be found, and those with the shortest diameter are the most agreeable as well as less conspicuous.  Proper presentation means as much in Denver as it does in New York or Boston.

            The best known social organization in the city is the Denver Club.  Among its members are a majority of the leading men in law, politics, and business.  Once a year the club gives a reception to “society.” Which is an event of the season.

            Among those who have helped give Denver its present reputation, and who now rank among the prominent men of the city and State, may be mentioned the names of Henry Wolcott, once a candidate for Governor, and a lawyer of highest standing; Edward O. Wolcott, his brother, and the attorney for the Denver and Rio Grande Railway; D. H. Moffat, President of the Denver and Rio Grande Railway, H. A. W. Tabor, who represented his State in the Senate at Washington, owns many of the largest buildings in Denver, and was once Lieutenant-Governor ; ex-Senator N. P. Hill, closely identified with the Argo Smelting-Works, and prominent in social and political life; Senator and ex-Secretary of the Interior Henry M. Teller; James Belford, the ex-Congressman; Governor Adams, the Chief Executive, and many others.  All are self-made men; many are self-educated as well.  Hon. H. A. W. Tabor enjoys the distinction of having had the most romantic career.  A country store-keeper in the ante-Leadville days, and “grub-staking” a prospector who discovered the “Little Pittsburgh” mine, he now counts his wealth by the millions, and has done more for the welfare of Denver than any other man.  With a strangely contradictory character, his liberality has never been questioned and his “good luck” is phenomenal.

            The three great industries of Colorado, mining, agriculture, and stock-raising, are those from which Denver derives its chief support.  As a mining region, Colorado has made an enviable record.  The total yield of the State in gold and silver now exceeds $200,000,000.  It is estimated that 100,000 lodes have been discovered, besides numerous placers.  Silver was not found until 1870, but in 1886 the yield of that metal amounted to $16,450,921.  Among the ores produced are gold, tellurium, copper, iron, and lead.  At Denver is made much of the machinery used at the various camps, and to its furnaces and smelters is shipped a large proportion of the precious ores.  Shipments from the Boston and Colorado Smelting Works at Argo, on the outskirts of Denver, amounted in 1887 to $3,767,685, and those from the Omaha and Grant Smelter in 1886 to $8,053,143.  Still another smelting company has been formed, which uses every modern appliance and improvement.  These, three concerns make Denver the largest smelting point outside of Leadville, and afford employment to a small army of men.

            As an ore market, Denver is important.  For 1887 there were 15,806 car loads of ore received in the city.  Allowing 13 ½ tons to each car, the daily receipts amounted to 584 tons.  The deposits at the Mint during 1887 had a value of $1,843,891 io, a gain over 1886 of 28 per cent.  The modern practice of buying and selling ore through men known as public samplers is constantly growing in favor.  The Denver Public Sampling Works handled and sold in 1886 over 44,000,000 pounds or nearly 22,00 tons, as against 13,433 tons in 1885.  The value of the ore sold in 1886 was $1,243,360 84—an average of $56 59 per ton.  The ore which is received comes not only from Colorado, but from New Mexico and old Mexico, Montana, Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, and even from South America.  The public sampler is a commission man.  He receives ore from the miner, samples it, and gives a sealed sample to each of the buyers, who are the smelter and ore brokers.  The buyers assay their sample, and make sealed bids for the lot of ore.  On stated days these bids are opened, and the ore sold to whoever bids the highest.  The owner of the ore may see it sampled, and is even furnished a sample.  The smelters prefer buying of the public sampler to dealing directly with the miner, as they have a larger line of ore to select from, and are saved from dealing with a number of different men.

Agriculture in Colorado is comparatively in its infancy.  Not until later days has the industry been given much attention.  Now, however, by a system of irrigation that renders long-neglected lands productive, it is fairly launched.  The area of farming land has been widely extended.  Immense tracts of government land have been put under water and cultivation.  Wherever it was possible, on the Arkansas, Rio Grande, San Juan,  Dolores, Gunnison, and other rivers, canals for irrigation have been projected, and water taken out, to reclaim vast areas that were once considered worthless.  In his surveys Professor Hayden estimated that Colorado contained not less than 6,000,000 acres of agricultural land.  From reports made by the Land-office in Denver up to 1885, over 4,000,000 acres of that amount had been taken up.  In 1885 nearly 900,00 more acres were added, and in 1886 fully 1,000,000 acres, thus making more than the original estimate.  The crops for 1886 amounted to 2,100,00 bushels of wheat, 600,00 bushels of oats, 250,000 bushels of barley, and 175,000 bushels of corn.  The total value of the agricultural products does not fall much below $12,000,000 annually.  Seed is purchased at the Denver markets, agricultural implements are made and sold there, and the cereals are returned to the flouring mills that have been built.

            The third source of Denver’s revenue is from cattle and sheep.  The herds are raised in nearly every part of the State, an millions of money are invested in the industry.  For 1887 the State assessors estimated the number of animals and their valuation as follows:

















Other animals………….




According to other estimates there are fully 1,500,000 sheep in Colorado, the wool clip from which would be not less than $1,500,000.  Exact figures are hard to obtain.  Cattle are being constantly improved by the introduction of “blooded” stock.  In 1886 there were 122,678 cattle shipped from Colorado to eastern markets, as against 75,579 head shipped in 1885.  Denver capital is largely invested in the industry, and the fortunes of many of her people have been made in it.  The city is the chief hide, wool, and tallow market in the State, and several of the banks are founded on capital made in former years by the cattle kings.

            In addition to these sources of wealth Denver has her home commerce, foundries, street railway systems, and list of taxable property.  The total revenue of the city for 1886 was $452,648 39, the item for taxes alone being $301,362 42.  The assessed valuation of Arapahoe County, of which Denver is the seat, was $11,093,520 in 1878, $38,374,920 in 1886, and $47,037,574 in 1887.  The rate of taxation in that time had been reduced from 20.9 mills to 9.7.  The growth of Denver’s manufacturing industries has been rapid.  For 1887 the increase was between 20 and 25 per cent.  In 1885 the total value of the product of manufactures in the city was $20,293,650.  In 1886 the total value was $24,045,006.  In 1886 Denver had 219 manufacturing establishments, employing 4056 men, the annual pay-roll being $2,100,998.  As nearly as can be approximated, the statistics for 1887 will be as follows:  number of establishments, 240; number of employés, 5000; amount of wages, $3,000,000.  The shops of the Denver and Rio Grande Railway at Denver employ 600 men, and the general offices of the road are in the city.

      The water supply of Denver is more than abundant.  In many instances water for drinking purposes is taken from artesian-wells, more than a hundred of which have been bored since 1883.  Some are sunk to a depth of 1125 feet.  The first flow was struck at 350 feet, the second at 525, the third at 555, and the fourth at 625.  Six successful wells were bored in 1885, and eight in 1886.  Water from these wells is deliciously pure and cold, and flows from the faucets with sparkling brilliancy.

            For irrigation purposes water is brought by a system of ditches from a source twelve miles south of the city.  For other uses it is taken from the Platte, and forced by the Holly system into every building.  There are fifty miles of distributing mains, and the annual supply is seventeen hundred  millions of gallons per day.  A company now proposes bringing water by gravity from Cherry Creek to a reservoir over-looking the city, thus obviating the necessity of pumping the needed supply.

            The material attractions of Denver have not been gained at the expense of the immaterial ones.  The city prides itself upon its many churches, schools, and public buildings.  Gas and electricity are both in use, and there is an extended horse railway system that connects all parts of the city and reaches far into the suburbs.  The property of the Denver City Railway now includes fifty running cars, fourteen extra cars, and three hundred and fifty horses.  One hundred and fifty men are employed.  The cars make 883 trips per day, and there are twenty-four miles of track inside the city limits.  The Circle Railway, narrow gauge, was built for the purpose of increasing the value of suburban property.  It reaches the southern additions to the city and the outlying parks and race-course.  In the city proper, cable and electric roads have recently been completed, thus giving Denver exceptionally good transportation facilities.  Still another home comfort is afforded by a steam heating company.  Over one hundred thousand gallons of water are evaporated daily, and the steam is delivered through five miles of mains and three miles of service pipes.

            As a city of churches, Denver ranks next to Brooklyn.  There are sixty-two, all told, or one for every 1200 inhabitants.  A new Unitarian church is being erected, which, with the land it occupies, will cost $55,000; the design is Romanesque.  The Catholic propose to soon build a massive cathedral;  a corporation with a stock of $50,000 has already been organized for a cathedral fund.  St. John’s Cathedral (Protestant Episcopal) is one of the prominent buildings of the city; the design of the crucifixion in one of the windows is said to be the largest in the world.

            Next to her churches, the city is proud of her schools.  They are numerous and ably managed.  School district No. 1 includes that part of Denver lying east of the Platte and Cherry Creek, and extends four miles down the Platte and several miles eastward to the plains.  It is of an independent character, and was chartered before the adoption of the State Constitution.  The property has an assessed valuation of about $29,000,000.  A special tax levy of four and a half mills is made for school purposes, and from 5000 to 8000 children are in daily attendance.  A new High-School and Library building is now being erected.  It will cost $200,000.  There are fourteen schools in district No. 1, and 120 teachers are employed.

            In West Denver are five school buildings and nearly 2000 pupils.  In North Denver the several institutions have and enrolment of about 1200 children.  Besides the public schools there is the Denver University, soon to have new quarters; Jarvis Hall, a private school for boys; St. Mary’s School, under the direction of the Sisters of Loretto; and Wolfe Hall, an advanced seminary for young ladies.

As a railroad centre, Denver is fast becoming as important as either Kansas City or Omaha.  The new Union Depot, where centre the many tracks of the various roads now extended across the plains to this seat of influence in the West, is one of the largest and handsomest buildings in Denver.  It is built almost entirely of native stone, and is 503 feet

by 69 feet wide.  The Central tower is 165 feet high, and contains an illuminated clock.  Two hundred thousand pieces of baggage were handled at the Union Station in 1886, and the passenger business was larger and ever before.  The general passenger agent of the Denver and Rio Grand Railway, together with several other officials of the road, occupy one half of the second floor of the building, and in the other half are offices of the Union Pacific Company.  The main floor is divided into spacious waiting, baggage, and dining rooms, and the grounds to the east of the depot are laid out in flower beds, lawns, and walks.

            The first transcontinental railroad to reach Denver was the Union Pacific.  It made its appearance in the 1869, sending two lines across the plains, one from Omaha and one from Kansas City.  The former was the first to arrive, and the latter followed the next year.  Soon after the advent of the Union Pacific the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe extended its system westward toward the Rocky Mountains as far as Pueblo, and was soon connected with Denver by the Rio Grande road, a narrow-gauge which was rapidly built southward along the base of the mountains.  In 1883 the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad, generally known in the West as the Burlington, pushed on past the Missouri, and taking a path between that followed by the Union Pacific and that of the Kansas Pacific, came into Denver.  The city had now three direct routes to the East, and

the fact that the traffic of the several roads more than repaid them for the expense of building, offers conclusive evidence of the commercial importance of the city at that period of its history.

            From 1876 to 1883 there was great activity in Colorado railway circles.  More than one thousand miles of rails were laid over the mountains and through the valleys of the State.  When Leadville was discovered, and a vast army of mean surged toward that famous place, from which came daily tales of fabulous wealth, the Atchison and the Rio Grande were both at Pueblo.  From here there was only one known route through the mountains to Leadville.  This was up the cañon of the Arkansas.  Both roads claimed the right of way, and each disputed with the other which should have it.  Excitement ran high, and the employés of the two companies were transformed into two contending armies.  There were daily battles, some resulting in bloodshed, and all fought with earnestness and grim determination.  At last the Rio Grande was declared victorious, and the work of laying tracks through the deep and narrow gorge was begun.  The rate of progress was marvellous [sic.], considering the difficulties encountered, and while Leadville was still in the first flush of its sudden renown, the plucky little narrow-gauge was at its door.

            By the completion of this one and only railroad to what was then the most famous mining camp in the world, Denver became the chief seat of supplies for the newly opened region.  Leadville drew upon her unceasingly; and in meeting all demands the commerce of the city was greatly increased, and the merchants enriched.  More than all, Denver profited by Leadville’s wealth.  Fortunes made in the one place were spent in the other.  To-day, even, some of the richest Denverites are those who made their money in Leadville.  In 1887 the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe built its road from Pueblo to Denver, and gave the city a fourth line to the east.  The new route closely parallels the Rio Grande road, and passes through Colorado Springs.

            And it is now a settled fact that the Missouri Pacific will soon enter Colorado, and reach Denver over the Denver, Texas, and Gulf road, now built as far south as Pueblo, and once known as the Denver and New Orleans.  How may other lines will in the future make Denver their objective point, time alone can tell.  One may safely venture the prophecy, however, that both the St. Paul and the Northwestern will eventually enter it and strive for its business.

            The railway communication which Denver has with the different districts of the State has been considerably extended by the new Colorado Midland road, extending from Colorado Springs, seventy-five miles south of Denver, to Leadville.  The road passes through the heart of the State.  When completed beyond its present terminus, it will enter Utah, and connect there with the Utah Midland, a proposed new line to the Pacific.  The Colorado Midland now uses the newly laid track of the Atchison road between Denver and Colorado Springs.  Eventually it will use the Denver, Texas, and Gulf track, or possibly become a part of the Missouri Pacific system.  The road has  an important bearing upon the future of the State.  Still another road of direct benefit to Denver is the Texas, Santa Fe, and Northern.  It connects the Rio Grande and the Atchison at Santa Fe, New Mexico, and gives Denver a nearly direct route into the Southwest—old Mexico, and  the cities along the Gulf of Mexico and in Texas.

            Besides its successful attempts to obtain control of the country lying south and west, Denver was not so blind to its interests as to neglect the productive territory of its northern surroundings.  It is this district which the Union Pacific controls.  The Denver and South Park and the Colorado Central are both owned by the Union Pacific.  The former extends westward to Leadville and the Gunnison country, and the latter to Idaho Springs, Breckenridge, and Georgetown.  The two lines are important in their relation to Denver.  As examples of engineering skill they are remarkable.  The South Park crosses the mountains at an altitude of over 10,000 feet, and on the Central, near Georgetown, is the celebrated look, where the road doubles upon itself in a manner which engineers never cease to admire.  The favorite excursion for Denverites is over the Central.  The road follows Clear Creek Cañon, a narrow gorge of wonderfully varied scenery, and places within easy reach of every lover of mountain scenery from the famous health resorts of Idaho Springs and Estes Park.  On the South Park road one gains an idea at least of the varied and picturesque beauty of Colorado.  He sees its valleys and its mountains, and is made acquainted with the passes over which the emigrants of years ago used to drag their heavy wagons.

            But it is not because of their scenic attractions alone that Denver is fortunate in being the centre of these two roads.  The country of which they are the outlet is the first that was developed in the State.  The old placer claims there yielded fabulous sums of money, and to-day the nines in and around Georgetown have a yearly output that adds materially to the wealth of Colorado.  No better illustration of this fact can be given, perhaps, than by taking the report of the United States Mint at Denver for 1886.  The total operations of that concern for the year aggregated $1,500,000.  Of this sum Colorado furnished $1,303,807 87, the several counties contributing as follows:


$292 86


20,771 46


65, 602 81

Clear Creek………………...

18,575 31


379 05


670 04


686,793 15


2,447 46


115 83


2,854 20


80,631 01

La Plata…………………….

193 08


111 08


285 10


1,973 28


54,552 81


13,603 96

Rio Grande………………...

57,210 39


17,279 31

San Juan……………………

8,707 00

San Miguel………………...

54,813 60


149,686 28


____66,258 80

          Total Colorado………

$1,303,807 87

  From this table the relative importance of Boulder, Chaffee, Clear Creek, and Gilpin counties, which the Union Pacific system reaches, is at once apparent.

            The mint at Denver is only used for assays, and not for coinage.  Ore is received from nearly every mining State and Territory in the West, California sending $2821 11 in 1886, Idaho, $16,869 39, and New Mexico, $108,849 34.

            The trade of Denver for 1886, including the product of her manufactories, amounted to over $72,000,000.  Of this sum the smelters produced $10,000,000.  The real estate sales, as recorded, were nearly $11,000,000.  Property, compared with that in Kansas City, is not high.  Prices are not within a fourth what they are there, are less than a third those of Omaha, one-half those in Los Angeles, and one-seventh those in Minneapolis.  Following the depression of a few years ago has come no “boom” or unwarranted advance.  The sales for 1886 were large, but were the result of an active and legitimate demand.  The business portion of Denver is continually expanding, and every year creeps eastward and toward the north.  It seems reasonable to suppose that the centre of trade in the future will be near the County Court-house, and eventually surround that spacious structure.  Lands that a few years ago were looked upon as far outside the city limits are no longer so regarded.  Capitol Hill, which in 1882 contained not more than one or two houses, is now nearly covered with the largest and most expensive houses in the city.  Residence streets have been rapidly absorbed by business interests, and there is a continual pressure away from the old centre down by the junction of the Platte and Cherry [Creek].

            The streets, houses, and public buildings of Denver are most attractive.  Bright red brick and yellow stone are the favorite materials of construction, and the effect of this combination gives the city a peculiarly pleasing appearance.  The number of public buildings is still limited, but is being rapidly increased.  The City Hall, Tabor Opera-house, Duff Block, County Court-house, and mercantile blocks would be a credit to any city.   None of the streets are paved, and at times are uncomfortably muddy.  In the residence quarter rows of trees line each thoroughfare, and there are streams of water coursing past them.  In a majority of cases the houses are surrounded by lawns and gardens.  Especially is this true of those on Capitol Hill.

            Besides its County Court-house, Denver will soon have the Capitol Building.  It is now being constructed, and will cost a million of dollars.  Ground for its reception was first broken on the 6th of July, 1886, and the foundations for the stone-work were completed the following November.  The Corinthian order of architecture has been adopted, and will be used in the foundations, and other portions of the building will be of stone obtained from the quarries at Stout, in Larimer County.

            The Governor and other State officials will have apartments on the lower floor over the basement, and on the floors above will be the legislative halls, the Supreme Court rooms, and the private rooms of the judges.  The legislative hall will occupy the west front, and will be 63 feet long, 52 wide, and 42 feet high.  The building will be severely simple, having no dome or minarets, and will be 383 feet long and 313 feet wide.  It is to stand on Capitol Hill, and overlook the entire city and its varied surroundings.

            The climatic advantages of Denver, like those of Colorado in general, have often been described, and are now tolerable familiar to all.  A clear, invigorating air, cool nights even in midsummer, mild days in winter, with now and then a season of extreme dry cold, are the chief characteristics of the highly favored place.  One enjoying these blessing is loath to leave the City.  Rarely is the sky obscured.  Almost to a certainty one may plan for the pleasures of a week ahead.  For sufferers from throat and lung troubles Denver is a natural sanatorium, and not that it has every comfort of life, and has become staid, conservative, and stable, it will add to its population every year, and tempt to itself those who no longer are able or willing to brave the discomforts of older but much less favored centres.

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