CITY OF DENVER
article appeared in
Transcribed for the COGenWeb Project City & County of Denver
by Leona L. Gustafson
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
From this table the relative
importance of Boulder, Chaffee, Clear Creek, and Gilpin counties,
which the Union Pacific system reaches, is at once apparent.
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.
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].
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.