Prior to 1858, the only residents along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in the western part of the Kansas Territory (what would, in 1861, become Colorado Territory) were Indians or trappers in temporary encampments. With the discovery of gold near the confluence of Cherry Creek and the Platte River in 1858, followed by the Pike's Peak gold rush, tens of thousands of prospectors, miners and other settlers flooded into the region, founding Denver City and other towns along the eastern Rocky Mountains.
Though boom towns, these were not rich enough communities to generate a demand for many sophisticated pictures, so for the next three decades the majority of the first-hand views of the Pike's Peak gold rush and early Colorado were those that appeared in the popular, illustrated newspapers of the period, from publications such as Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper and Harper's Weekly. The fact that these prints were "merely" illustrations in newspapers and were issued in huge numbers has led some to dismiss them as unworthy of study or ownership. However, they are among the most important and fascinating views of the gold rush and nineteenth-century Colorado.
These wood engraved views were drawn mostly on-the-spot by artists sent out to cover the gold rush and the burgeoning Colorado scene. They were by skilled artists and appeared within a short time of when they were drawn. They provide the largest source of accurate, contemporary views of these events and places. These views of gold rush and the settlements, events and daily life in Colorado, form an important legacy of American history.
Except as noted, the following are uncolored wood engravings in very good condition. Sizes are for the images only. Denver.
Three images by Albert Bierstadt and text on "The Pike's Peak Gold Mines." From Harper's Weekly. New York: August 13, 1859. Respectively: 3 1/4 x 4 1/2; 3 7/8 x 7; 6 x 9.
Not everyone on the scene were on their way to the gold fields, for by June there were also a large number of those who had give up: "Up to this point of our journey [when crossing the Platte] we have probably passed five thousand desponding and disappointed men returning to the States, and this number is but small compared to those who have pressed on toward California." $125
"The Gold Regions of Kansas." With two views by Col. D.H. Huyett. "Street In Gregory's Gulch, Pike's Peak," and "Sketch of Gregory's Quartz Mill, Pike's Peak." From Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. December 15, 1860. Wood engravings. 6 x 9 1/4 and 6 7/8 x 9 1/4, respectively.
On May 6, 1859, John H. Gregory, a prospector from Georgia, was the first person to discover lode gold in western Kansas, in what would soon become Colorado. He found the "Gregory Lode" along Clear Creek in what would be named Gregory Gulch. When word got out, prospectors flocked to the area and within a short time as many as 10,000 people were in the vicinity seeking gold and founding the towns of Central City and Black Hawk. While this was located a long way from the mountain, the gold fields and the resulting gold rush were named after Pike's Peak ("Pike's Peak or Bust"). The Pike's Peak gold rush soon rivaled the decade earlier California Gold Rush and created much interest from the public in the East. These images, by Col. D.H. Huyett, were included in the same issue as his view of Denver. The street scene on this print shows one of the communities (probably Central City) which grew up in Gregory's Gulch, with a series of log cabins on either side of a dirt street, two of which have signs: "Rocky Mountain Gold Reporter" and "Express Office." The other shows the activity near "Gregory Quartz Mill. Conklin & Co.", with the mill in the foreground and working on the hill side in the background. Of particular interest is the sign on a log cabin on the left for "Pies, Cakes, Whiskey." NA
These images are, however, available separately:
Views by Theodore R. Davis. For "Journeying on the Plains." From Harper's Weekly. New York, January 27, 1866.
T.R. Davis. "Central City, Colorado." From Harper's Weekly. New York, February 17, 1866. 4 x 9. Wood engraving.
Another Davis view, this showing the prosperous mining town of Central City, shown in its magnificent setting in the Rockies. $65
James F. Goodkins. "Life on the Plains." From Harper's Weekly. New York: October 13, 1866. 9 x 13 3/4. Wood engraving. Very good condition.
A series of eight views by James F. Goodkins, most related to the experience of emigrants to the gold fields and two of Denver itself. The images related to the emigrants include a violent storm on the prairie and emigrants being attacked by Indians. The latter is related to the numerous Indian attacks on emigrants heading to the Pike's Peak gold rush. In the lower left corner is an image of "Fort Wicked." This was a trading post on the South Platte run by Holon Godfrey and got its name from the Cheyenne because of Godfrey's staunch defense of it when (allegedly) 200 or so Indians attacked in January 1865, giving up after two days having lost a number of their party. Godfrey himself was thereafter known as "Old Wicked." His post was the only one along the route not captured or burned during the 1865 Indian raids.
Two of the views show Denver. One is of the Assay Room at the Denver mint and the other is a street scene, showing the mint building on the right and with the Rocky Mountains in the background. The artist commented that though Harper's Weekly had previously "published one or two street scenes in Denver I send the one herewith, which gives a good view of the mountains beyond. It is a different view from any hitherto published, and I think from a better point." $150
Theodore R. Davis. "Overland Mail-Coach Crossing the Rocky Mountains-Scene in Guy's Gulch." From Harper's Weekly. New York, February 8, 1868. 13 5/8 x 9. Wood engraving. Very good condition.
A dramatic scene showing the mail coach coming down Clear Creek in Guy Gulch, just west of Golden, in the middle of a snow storm. $65
Frenzeny and Tavernier. "Smelting Ore in Colorado." From Harper's Weekly. New York: May 30, 1874. Nine scenes, ca. 13 1/2 x 20 1/2.
In the fall of 1873, Harper's Weekly commissioned Paul Frenzeny and Jules Tavernier, two young French artists, to travel to the American West to provide illustrations for the paper. The West had only recently been fully opened up to the public with the construction of numerous railroads. Frenzeny and Tavernier provided 67 images which were published as wood engravings in Harper's. At the time, smelting was one of the growing industries in Colorado so the artists did a number of scenes of this industry in Black Hawk, which were presented in this interesting collage on May 30. This print contains nine scenes showing the process of getting silver ore from the mine, right through to the silver bricks being cast and then shipped out by train. $125
"Trout-Hatching in Colorado." From Harper's Weekly. New York: July 4, 1874. 6 x 9 1/8. Wood engraving. Very good condition.
The beauties of the Rocky Mountains were made available to the American public back East once the railroads reached Denver in 1870. It soon became a tourist destination, known for its healthy environment and outdoor activities. Fishing in the Colorado streams soon became a popular sport, which spawned many businesses serving the visiting fishermen, including the stocking of lakes and streams. This is an early image of a trout hatchery. $45
Frenzeny and Tavernier. "A Bird Colony on Lake St. Mary." From Harper's Weekly. New York: July 18, 1874. 5 1/2 x 9 1/8. Wood engraving. Very good condition.
A charming scene of swallows flying over Lake St. Mary in the Rockies west of Denver. $30
Frenzeny and Tavernier. "Shooting Antelopes from a Railroad Train in Colorado." From Harper's Weekly. New York: May 29, 1875. 9 x 13 1/4. Wood engraving by V. Bernstrom.
This scene of "hunting" antelopes was drawn on the plains near Kit Carson, Colorado, along the track of the Kansas Pacific Railroad, whose train is shown behind the line of shooters. $65
Views of Leadville from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. 1879. Wood engravings. Very good condition. Denver.
In 1874, it was discovered that the heavy black sand ubiquitous in California Gulch, high in the mountains of Colorado, contained cerussite, which had a high silver content. Two years later, deposits of this were discovered near Oro City and in 1877 the new town of Leadville was founded, leading to one of the largest silver rushes in Colorado history. By 1880, Leadville was one of the largest mining towns in the world, with a population of over 40,000. The silver rush to Leadville led publisher Frank Leslie to send an artist, Edward Jump, out to cover this boom town and to include a number of illustrations of Leadville in his newspaper in 1879.
An interesting scene of Colorado cowboys watching a bull fight. The scene is drawn by W.A. Rogers, who was a cartoonist at Harper's, but also drew a number of carefully observed images of the American West. This images was drawn on Rogers' trip to southern Colorado in 1879. With reference to the Colorado cowboys, Harper's wrote "The 'cow-boys' of the Rocky Mountain regions are a race or a class peculiar to that country. They have some resemblance to the corresponding class on the southern side of the Rio Grande, but are of a milder and more original type." $75
"Hardships of Travel in Colorado." From Harper's Weekly. New York, September 3, 1881. 11 3/4 x 8 3/4. Wood engraving.
As Colorado's silver mining boosted its economy, tourism also grew in the state in the late 19th century. This delightful series of images shows the hardships of travel and is accompanied by an article on the "Rough Life in Colorado," which comments that "Travel in the mountain wilds of Colorado is not what would be called a luxury..." $50
W. A. Rogers. "The Cow-boys Of Colorado--Life In A Dug-out" From Harper's Weekly. New York, November 18, 1882. 9 x 13 3/8. Very good condition.
Another image drawn by Rogers on his western trip, this a wonderful scene of Colorado cowboys spending the evening in their "dugout." Three men are playing cards, while two others are competing at Mumblety-peg. Of particular note is the cowboy with a young boy sitting in his lap. Many other interesting details complete this evocative scene by W.A. Rogers. $80
W.A. Rogers. "Mining Life in Colorado." From Harper's Weekly. November 10, 1883. 13 1/4 x 9 1/8. Very good condition.
Colorado had its origin in the gold rush of 1858-61, but it was the silver boom which began in 1879 which really brought the state prosperity (until 1893, when silver prices collapsed because of the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act). Throughout that period, mining was the heart of Colorado's fortune and so it was natural for Harper's Weekly to include images of "mining life in Colorado." This image, drawn by W.A. Rogers, a Harper's regular, shows first hand scenes of miners and their life in the mountains. $60
From Photographs by George E. Mellen. "The Disaster at Crested Butte, Colorado." From Harper's Weekly. New York: February 16, 1884.
Charles Graham. "'The Antlers,' Colorado Springs." From Harper's Weekly. New York: November 20, 1886. Wood engraving. 11 1/8 x 8 7/8. Very good condition.
The original Antler's Hotel was built in 1883, designed to be a luxury hotel for wealthy tourists from Europe and the East Coast coming to take in the mountain scenery (some of whom are shown in this print!). This original building burned in 1885 and a new hotel was built to replace it. It was the following year that Charles Graham visited the hotel and drew this cover illustration. The hotel continued to be expanded and upgraded and it served as a hotel until 1969 when it was torn down and replaced by the current hotel building. $65
Charles Graham. "Irrigation in Colorado." From Harper's Weekly. New York: November 20, 1886. Wood engraving. 12 5/8 x 9. Very good condition.
As a young man, in 1873, Graham joined the Northern Pacific Railroad survey under General T.L. Rosser as a draughtsman. He briefly worked as a scenic artist, including painting theatre curtains and props, before joining the staff at Harper's Weekly in 1877. He became one of the most prolific artists for the magazine, producing over 120 illustrations for the newspaper. Among his best were his scenes of the American West, such as this print showing the importance of irrigation along the foothills of the Rockies. This image includes four vignette scenes of Colorado, related to the irrigation projects of the 1880s. These include: "Marking at Start," "Result of Irrigation," "Lifting Wheels of the Gunnison," "The Bad Land." $70
Charles Graham. "The City of Denver, and Mountain Scenes in Colorado." From Harper's Weekly. April 23, 1887. 13 1/2 x 19 5/8. Wood engraving. Small rubbed spot in centerfold. Else, very good.
This image was drawn by Charles Graham, who made a number of trips for Harper's to provide its readers with views of the burgeoning American West. This composite image has a panoramic view of Denver in the center, surrounded by vignettes of Denver houses, mining scenes and the local terrain. A wonderful image of Denver and region at a period when the city was becoming a sophisticated urban center, though still situated in the West. $285
Charles Graham from sketches by Lenore Hasslock. "Pueblo Colorado." From Harper's Weekly. New York, May 12, 1888. 9 x 13 1/2. Wood engraving. Denver.
As a young man, in 1873, Charles Graham joined the Northern Pacific Railroad survey under General T.L. Rosser as a draughtsman. He briefly worked as a scenic artist, including painting theatre curtains and props, before joining the staff at Harper's Weekly in 1877. He became one of the most prolific artists for the magazine, producing over 120 illustrations for the newspaper. Among his best were his scenes of the American West, such as this print which he composed from sketches by Lenore Hasslock. There are six vignette images of Pueblo, including an elevated general view of the town. $85
Charles Graham. "Over the Rockies in an Observation Car." New York: Harper's Weekly, July 18, 1891. 9 x 13 5/8. Wood engraving. Very good condition.
An interesting image of tourists enjoying the Rockies from an early observation car. $55
After photograph by A. Zeese & Co. "Rico, Colorado." Denver: The Great Divide, May 1892. Relief halftone. Very good condition. Denver.
A view of Rico, Colorado from a hillside opposite, based on a photograph by the A. Zeese & Co. firm out of Chicago. It was issued in the illustrated paper, The Great Divide, issued monthly in Denver beginning in 1892. The town is shown as quite prosperous. Gold was first discovered there in 1866, but it wasn't until the Ute Indians gave up their claims in 1878 that mining really started in earnest. The historic main street is shown running through the valley below Telescope and Dolores Mountains. The Enterprise Mines are shown at right. $50
Henry Fenn. "The Happy Hunting-Grounds of the Utes." From Harper's Weekly. New York, April 11, 1896. 13 x 8 1/2. Relief half-tone. Denver.
A composite print showing scenes of the "happy hunting-grounds" [at the time unselfconsciously not-ironic] of the Ute Indians in Colorado. Drawn by Henry Fenn, who had provided many of the illustrations for Picturesque America, these lovely scenes include images of Trapper Lake and Twin Lakes. Also in the print is an image of the Columbine flower (Colorado's state flower) and some Indian beads. $70
Other newspaper illustrations of Colorado:
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