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Real Pioneers of Colorado


Throughout this retyping of an extraordinary collection of data, I have been impressed with the destination of many emigrants to the "Pike's Peak" gold area. Some have arrived at Old Colorado City, southwest of Colorado Springs; some came by way of the Arkansas River, arriving at Fountain City, now part of Pueblo; some arrived in what is now Denver; some arrived far north of Denver, having followed the South Platte River. Many were walking or guiding slowmoving animals. The view to the south from downtown Denver, on a clear day, reveals the magnificent peak, but it is 70 miles away. From Pueblo County, the view northward is nearly as distant, both very impressive walks from Denver, with or without teams of animals. So, the emigrants had a very broad view of what "Pike's Peak excitement" meant, geographically.

Pikes Peak as a source of gold is related to the confirmed finding in 1891 of gold telluride (years later than the 1858-60 "Pike's Peak or bust" phenomenon), by W. S. Stratton, on the west side of the mountain, about 45 miles southwest of Colorado Springs. Though prospectors were active in the Pikes Peak region as early as 1859, they overlooked the ores of Cripple Creek. Stratton filed a claim on a "barren, granitic-appearing outcrop that proved to be gold ore worth $380 per ton." (Principal gold-producing districts of the United States, by A. H. Koschmann and M. H. Bergendahl, U. S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 610, p. 117-118, 1968.)

The U. S. Board on Geographic Names does not use apostrophes in place names, therefore, Pike's Peak is officially spelled Pikes Peak, and has been so used throughout this retyping.

On November 1, 1861, the State of Colorado was divided into 17 counties. From northwest to southeast they were: Summit, Larimer, Weld, Boulder, Gilpin, Clear Creek, Arapahoe, Jefferson, Douglas, Lake, Park, El Paso, Fremont, Pueblo, Guadalupe (Conejos), Costilla, and Huerfano. There also was the Cheyenne and Arapaho reservation, abutting the eastern boundaries of El Paso and Pueblo Counties. (Noel and others, 1994, section 15, "The seventeen original counties.") Present-day Colorado is divided into 63 counties. In November 2001, Broomfield County will become number 64 and abut an area north of the City and County of Denver.

In many of the following biographical sketches the "Battle of Sand Creek" or the "Sand Creek Massacre" is mentioned. In Noel and others, 1994, section 45 and map 45c, the following is to be noted: "Many Native Americans did not sign the treaties and resisted white advances. Nor did the whites keep the promises that they made in the flawed Fort Laramie and Fort Wise treaties. Increasingly hostile incidents culminated in the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, where more than one hundred Arapaho and Cheyenne--mostly children, women, and old men--were slaughtered." Sand Creek is now a historic site in Kiowa County, southeastern Colorado

Recommended Publications

Benson, Maxine, 1994. 1001 Colorado Place Names, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, 237 pages. ISBN 0-7006-0632-7 (cloth:alk. paper). -ISBN 0-7006-0633-5 (paper:alk. paper)

Noel, Thomas J., Paul F. Mahoney, and Richard E. Stevens, 1994. Historical Atlas of Colorado, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, unnumbered pages. ISBN 0-8061-2555-1.

Edited by Randy Jacobs with Robert M. Ormes, 1971. Guide to the Colorado Mountains, 10th Edition. Colorado Mountain Club Press, Golden, 2000. 365 p. ISBN 0-9671-4660-7.

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Updated: June 25, 2013