My husband, Bob and I love to go to Denver, Colorado periodically. We usually try to go to a Rockies game, shop some, and walk a lot. I think that most people who live in Wyoming, and elsewhere across the nation, have made the trip to Denver periodically. It is a shopping hub for this area, and on top of that, it is a huge cultural hub too. Denver is not a city I would want to live in, because I really don’t care to live in such a big city, but I do enjoy going there occasionally.
I do wonder how I would have felt about Denver in it’s early days. Back in 1858, Denver was just a small frontier town in the Colorado Territory. In those days, the town was not called Denver, in fact, I don’t know if it even had an official name. In a city where shopping brings in a huge amount of revenue, Denver, on this day October 29, 1858, saw its first store open. One month later, the town would take on the name Denver in a ploy to gain favor from Kansas Territorial Governor James W Denver. The town was promoted by a real estate salesman from Kansas named William H Larimer Jr. The store was created to serve miners, who were working the placer gold deposits that had been discovered a year before at the confluence of Cheery Creek and the South Platte River. By 1859, tens of thousands of gold seekers had flooded into the area, but by then the placer deposits were already playing out and most miners quickly departed for home or headed west into the mountains in search of richer deposits.
The area where the gold had been found is called Confluence Park, and it is one of our favorite places in Denver, because of the beautiful trail that leads to it. Strangely, in all the years that Bob and I have been going to Denver, and all the years that we have been walking that trail, and enjoying that park, we never knew of the history that happened there. I suppose we might have if we lived in Denver, or even in Colorado, but since we don’t, it was simply a nice walking trail with a nice park, in a city we enjoy going for a visit, and it always will be that, but it is also a piece of history, and now I know that.
In 1860, the frontier town of Denver almost failed before it got started, because even though it was centrally located for servicing the mining camps, it didn’t have rail or water transportation to make bringing in the needed goods to the store easier, or even feasible. Even when the transcontinental Union Pacific Railroad was built, it didn’t initially stop at Denver, so the little town struggled, but by 1870, Denver finally began to overcome it’s geographical isolation, when the Kansas Pacific Railroad arrived from the east, and the 105 mile Denver Pacific Railway that joined Denver to the Union Pacific line at Cheyenne. More connections would come later on, making Denver the city it is today.