The Pikes Peak gold rush sent everyone into a frenzy. All anyone could talk about was gold and the riches it would bring.
During the winter, people planned their trip west and bought supplies, wagons, mules, mining equipment, anything they could think of to sustain them when they arrived at their destination.
When spring finally arrived, hundreds of wagons and families headed west in a race to the gold.
A few men braved the mountain snows before spring to arrive in Colorado and organized towns that became Denver and Boulder.
They waited for the snows to melt before trekking into the wilderness to start gold mining.
In the meantime, the Pikes Peak discovery wasn't as abundant as had been touted in the newspapers back east.
A man named George Jackson discovered gold in January of 1859 outside of the future town of Idaho Springs, west of Denver. However, the brutal winter drove him out of the area.
In the spring, an expert miner, John Gregory, discovered the biggest strike yet in the area that would be Black Hawk/Central City.
Both of these men kept their discoveries secret, for awhile.
While these men were working on their find, the "59'ers" arrived in Denver. They soon learned that very little gold was found in the area.
However, Jackson and Gregory could not keep their secret long and as soon as word of their discoveries got out, the flood began into the Colorado mountains as miners looked for the next strike.
"What about Pikes Peak gold" you ask? Well, I'll tell you.
In 1859, Pikes Peak was the most recognized point in the central Rocky Mountains. But gold was not discovered there until 1890.
Southwest of Pikes Peak, a place called Cripple Creek changed the face of the region with a great gold strike. It would be Colorado's greatest gold find.
Victor, another large gold site was also instrumental in the development of towns in the Pikes Peak region.
Mining in this area was called "hard rock mining" because the ore was found deep in the inactive volcanic cauldron around Cripple Creek. Blasting was needed to free the ore from the mountain.
Another rush came about when silver was discovered in the town of Leadville. Further west than the Pikes Peak gold finds, this discovery paved the way for silver mining in the central and western Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
Colorado mining had come a long way. With the discovery of gold at the base of Pikes Peak, jobs were created, businesses boomed, railroads found their way west, farmers and ranchers used the land.
Now there is a new gold in Cripple Creek, Black Hawk and Central City, gambling. Just like the prospectors of the old days, people arrive by the hundreds to claim their fortunes. And just like most of them, they will be disappointed.
Many of the historic buildings in these gambling towns house the casinos.
A tribute to the prospectors of the day and their hard work. Little would they guess that in a hundred years, the towns they lived in would be still around.
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