Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 1.djvu/153

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CHAPTER IX


From the Rockies to the Middle West.—1859-60


MY personal prospects were now assured, at least to the extent of a continuance of my engagement on the Commercial during the summer and fall. “Pike's Peak” was the all-absorbing topic in the press throughout the United States, and news from there was eagerly sought by editors and publishers. Several other correspondents appeared successively on the field, but I had a great advantage over them through my early advent and my knowledge of the country.

The influx of wanderers across the Plains in search of riches grew steadily greater as the summer advanced. Not less than fifty to sixty thousand fortune-hunters reached the Rocky Mountains before the first of September. Within a few weeks, from four to five thousand had crowded into the Gregory and adjoining gulches. The overflow then found its way along other water-courses to the north and south, and even up to and over the highest range, to the region watered by the Grand and Green Rivers. Thousands followed the South Platte to its sources, and thence reached the western slope through the Ute Pass. In fact, before the next winter set in, the greater part of the territory now included in the boundaries of the State of Colorado had been journeyed and worked over, and in many places permanent mining-camps established. Almost every day, reports of new “strikes” in various parts of the mountains reached the Cherry Creek towns. As soon as they were sufficiently confirmed to warrant it, I set out to verify them on the spot. Thus I was “on the go” the greater part of the time. I usually joined pro-

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