The Pike's Peak Gold Rush
Take a trip back in time...to the mid-19th century...to the days of the Pike's Peak Gold Rush. Join the Lawrence Party on their trek to the mountains in the spring of 1858. Climb Pikes Peak with the Bloomer Girl, Julia Holmes. Be there for Green Russell's discovery of gold on Dry Creek. Experience firsthand the frenzied Rush of 1859. Get to know the stories of the first Pike's Peakers, the men and women who left home and family in search of Colorado gold.
The late-1850's rush to the Rockies was called the Pike's Peak Gold Rush, even though the mountain by that name lay some sixty miles distant from the main diggings.
Pikes Peak (as seen from the Garden of the Gods)
The Pike's Peak Gold Rush began with rumors: rumors of old Spanish mines and Rocky Mountain gold.
Sangre de Cristo Pass - Gateway to Spanish Gold
In the spring of 1858 four parties of gold seekers followed the Cherokee Trail to the Front Range of the Rockies. Their discovery of gold precipitated the Great Pikes Peak Gold Rush.
As the first of the argonauts returned home in the early fall of 1858, they discovered that stories about their gold finds had already been spread eastward by the Missouri Valley newspapers.
Yoking-Up for Home
Beginning in the early winter of 1858, numerous towns were laid out along the Front Range of the Rockies in preparation for the expected arrival of the Fifty-Niners.
1859 Lithograph of Auraria and Denver City
The mountaineers were involved in the Pike's Peak Gold Rush almost from its inception. By the late 1850's, most had become Indian traders - colorful, carefree, sometimes cantankerous merchants who bartered for furs and hides among the westering tribes.
The merchants of the Missouri River towns spent the fall and winter of 1858-59 laying in supplies to sell to the tens of thousands of Pike's Peakers, who were sure to rush to the mountains once spring weather came.
In the spring and early summer of 1859, more than 100,000 gold seekers set out for the new gold diggings at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.
By mid-spring of 1859, rumors from the mountains indicated that gold diggings were a bust. Gold seekers turned around by the thousands and stampeded back to the States.
Newspaperman Horace Greeley's timely arrival at the new Gregory Diggings resulted in the Greeley Report, a factual account of the gold being mined. This report was published in the Rocky Mountain News of June 11, 1859, and was generally credited with having saved the gold rush.
The Gregory Diggings
The frenzied rush of 1859 was followed by the more orderly procession of 1860. Many gold seekers brought their families, and diarists wrote of white-topped wagons following the Denver Road west.
Crossing the Plains
Copyright © 1999-2008 Richard Gehling. All Rights Reserved.