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Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Colorado History

- Colorado History -
Settling Colorado / The Colorado Gold Rush of 1859

Pikes Peak or Bust

Pikes Peak was scaled by three other explorers just 14 years after Zebulon Pike said it couldn't be done.

Old Sketch of Pikes Peak
An early sketch of Pikes Peak.

"Pike's Peak or Bust" was the rallying cry painted on the canvas wagon tops, and it was leading the gold seekers to the wrong place. The first gold rushers to Pike's Peak discovered that there was no gold to be found within 100 miles of the peak.

Pikes Peak or Bust
An 1895 gold rusher dies on the plains. Pikes Peak or Bust was both his slogan and epitaph.

In early May, as the frontier towns swelled with outward bound gold rushers, there was an opposite wave of inward bound disillusioned gold seekers passing through the towns on their way home. Their wagons now had the Pike's Peak slogan crossed out and under it was hastily scrawled:
"Busted by Clod."

Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak, Colorado

Pikes Peak was usually the first landmark seen by the new settlers as they made their way across the praire. Only lucky wagon trains got through without being attacked by marauding Indians. Even large parties with lots of guns and arms were often harassed. No one counted how many prospective miners died en route to Pikes Peak, but the casualties were appalling.

Pike's Peak or Bust
Pikes Peak or Bust

Colorado Goild Rush - 1859

What started in California with the '49ers - the first miners and prospectors who rushed west in search of gold in 1849 - continued further east in the following two decades, when gold and silver strikes were made in the territories of Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona.

When the forty niners traveled cross-country in their wagons they abandoned useless objects on the way to the gold rush. In contrast, the early "fifty niners" trashed the plains returning home. Among the many discarded articles were optimistic guide books of the region written by D.C. Oakes. He went from hero to goat in several months. He was so disliked by the disenchanted gold rushers that they erected a fake headstone with a rhyme inscribed upon it:

"Here lies the body of D. C. Oakes,
Killed for aiding the Pike's Peak hoax."

Gregory Gulch, Colorado miners - 1859
Miners beside a sluice box in Colorado Territory's Gregory Gulch.

The gold strike in the Colorado Territory by John Gregory in 1859 revived the Pikes Peak rush.

Pikes Peak Miner
A determined gold seeker pauses for an 1859 portrait in the Pikes Peak region,
site of one of the first great rushes after California and the forty-niners.

William N. Byers, publisher of the Rocky Mountain News, printed poems like the following:

"The gold is there, 'most anywhere
You can take it out rich, with and iron crow bar,
And where it is thick, with a shovel and pick,
You can pick it out in lumps a big as a brick.

Then ho boys ho, to Cherry Creek we'll go.
There's plenty of gold,
In the West we are told,
In the new Eldorado."

At least Byers got the area right, although he received his fair share of criticism and abuse. Some even suggested that he and Oakes be lynched. Someone else pointed out that too many people believed Oakes was already dead and the lynching notion was not taken seriously.

Miners in San Miguel County, Colorado in the 1860s
Miners in San Miguel County, Colorado - 1860s

Colorado miners camp in the 1860s
Colorado miners' camp in the 1860s

To carry on their often fruitless and frustrating search for the mineral wealth of the West, prospectors required "grub" and plenty of it, as evidenced by the number of spent food tins strewn about this typical Colorado mining camp of the 1860s. Beans, flapjacks and sourdough bread were the miners' staples.

miner's cabin interior
Interior of a miner's cabin in Colorado. Its owner tried to give it a home-like atmosphere.

Pikes Peak would-be miners, 1859
The J. H. Byington family, Utah, 1870

Many 1859 Pikes Peak miners did not find gold. Some became settlers while others became "go-backers" heading east. A sign on one wagon read:
"From Kansas and starvation to Missouri and salvation."

Many of the prospectors in the Colorado gold rush had been farmers. "So green," went a common saying of the day, "that they mined with pitchforks."

Cripple Creek miners in 1892
Placer miners equipped with pans and sluices at gold-laced Cripple Creek, Colorado in 1892.

Gold panning in Clear Creek, Colorado 1880
Hope dies hard: This lone prospector was still panning for gold in Clear Creek in Colorado
more than 20 years after gold was first found there in 1859.

The Expeditions of John Wesley Powell

John Wesley Powell was a Civil War Union hero who had lost an arm at Shiloh. On May 24, 1869, Powell set out to traverse the entire raging Colorado River system by boat from the Green River in Wyoming to the Virgin River of Nevada with Army surplus supplies and three oak boats built with his own money. His party of ten men was reduced after three members left to return home on foot and were killed by Indians on their way.

John Wesley Powell
John Wesley Powell, Civil War Union officer and Illinois geology professor

They passed through the entire length of the Grand Canyon and emerged three months later as national heros. Powell completed the journey on August 30 and returned home to great acclaim. In 1871 he did it again. Powell later went on to head the US Geological Survey, but he will always be best remembered as the one-armed explorer who dared to challenge the Grand Canyon and the mighty Colorado River.

Powell's 1871 camp
In 1871 Powell returned to the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon with several hundred pounds of bulky photographic equipment. Boatman John K. Hillers took this photo of Powell's a second expedition's camp.

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- Colorado History In Depth -
Lecture Notes, Reading, and Information:

| The Cheyenne Migration to Colorado |
| The Gratlan Affair, Massacre, Fort Laramie Treaty |

The Cheyenne Social Club
| A Cheyenne War Story: Wolf Road, the Runner |
| Cheyenne Traditions and Beliefs, Sacred Stories |
| Horses, Warriors, War Pipe, Sweatlodge Ceremony |
| Cheyenne War Parties and Battle Tactics |
| The Scalp Dance and Other Cheyenne Dances |

Fort Union
| The Sante Fe Trail and Fort Union |
| Sumner - Ninth Military Department / The First Fort Union |
| Early Arrivals to Fort Union, Daily Life at Fort Union |
| Captain Grover - The New Fort Union, the Confederate Threat |
| Fort Union Arsenal, William Shoemaker, End of Fort Union |

Americans from the East
| Thomas Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase |
| The Expedition of Zebulon Pike |
| Pikes Peak or Bust / Colorado Gold Rush |

Colorado's Role in the US Civil War
| The Civil War, Fort Wise / Fort Lyon |
| Mace's Hole, Colonel Canby, F.C.V.R. | Fort Weld |
| The Pet Lambs, John Chivington |
| General Henry Sibly, Battle of Valverde, Fort Union |

Cripple Creek District Labor Strikes
| The Western Federation of Miners / State Militia |
| The 1893 - 1894 Strike | The Strike of 1903 - 1904 |
| The Mine Owners Association |
| Crimes and Military Rule in the Cripple Creek District |
| Marshall Law in Cripple Creek District / End of the Strike |
Early Cripple Creek District
| Photos, Fire, and Life in Cripple Creek |
| Other Colorful Towns in the Cripple Creek District:
Gillett - Colorado's Only Bullfight, Victor, Independence
| A Guide to the Miners' Gritty Lingo |

More Colorado History Information
| Bent's Fort Photos, Personalities, Plans, and More |

| What Was Easter Like at Bent's Fort? |
| Colorado Trivia, Miscellaneous Old Photos,
Western Personalities, Forts, and More

| Lullabies for Jittery Cows - Cowboy Ballads |
| Heraldry of the Branding Iron |
| Project Aims to Clear Infamous Cannibal, Alferd Packer |
Lead Gives Alferd Packer's Story More Weight |
| Legendary Colorado Love Stories: Baby Doe Tabor & More |
| Colorado Pioneer Women: Elizabeth Byers |
| Early Denver Jokes / The History of April Fools' Day |

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Highlands Ranch High School 9375 South Cresthill Lane Highlands Ranch, Colorado 80126 303-471-7000

Mr. Sedivy's History Classes
| Colorado History | American Government | Advanced Placement Modern European History | Rise of Nation State England | World History |
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