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Views of Colorado

Views of Colorado & the Pike's Peak Gold Rush

[ Colorado views from illustrated newspapers | Views of Denver | Maps of Colorado ]


Spanish Peaks
James W. Abert. "Las Cumbres Españolas." From A Report and Map of the Examination of New Mexico, In The Years. Washington: Wendell & Van Benthuysen, 1848. 4 1/4 x 7 1/4. Lithograph. Very good condition. Denver.

After the Mexican-American War, Lieutenant James W. Abert remained in Bent's Fort with a fever, while other officers in the Army of the West moved on to California. Upon his recovery he was assigned, along with Lieutenant William G. Peck, to explore the newly acquired territory of New Mexico. In late 1847 and '48 they explored New Mexico, examining the mines in the region and looking for the legendary Seven Cities of Cibola. They did encounter the pueblo cities of Cibolleta, Moquino, Pajuate, Covero, Laguna, Rito and Acoma, which Abert realized were those cities found by Coronado in his search for Cibola. Abert and Peck gathered important information on the economic potential, geography and geology, and population and political situation in the region. His report included some fine lithographed views presenting the new U.S. territory to the American public. This view shows the Spanish Peaks which at the time were in the New Mexico Territory, but now are in Colorado. $75
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John Mix Stanley after Richard H. Kern. "Sangre De Cristo Pass, From near the Summit looking down Gunnison's Creek." From John Williams Gunnison & Edward Griffin Beckwith's Explorations and Surveys for a Railroad Route From the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean...Report of Explorations for a Route...Near the 38th and 39th Parallels of North Latitude.... Washington: GPO., 1855. Printed by Beverley Tucker. Tinted lithograph by T. Sinclair. Light staining at bottom. Otherwise, very good condition. Denver.

Citizens of St. Louis, led by Senator Thomas Hart Benton, were quite keen to have the proposed trans-continental railroad follow a route between the 38th and 39th parallels, as their city would be the natural eastern terminus. An expedition was sent out under Captain John W. Gunnison, assisted by Lt. Edward G. Beckwith and with artist Richard H. Kern, to survey this route through Kansas, Colorado, Nevada and Utah. Gunnison was familiar with the central Rockies as he had been with Howard Stansbury in the Great Salt Lake region in 1849. Leaving Westport Kansas in June 1853, the expedition went up the Arkansas River and using several passes arrived in the Great Basin in the autumn of that year. A devastating skirmish with Ute Indians there, on October 26th, led to the deaths of Gunnison, Kern and seven others. Kern's sketches were saved and were prepared for publication by John Mix Stanley. $95

Other views of Colorado from this survey:

Fremont's Peak
"Fremont's Peak, Rocky Mountains." From Henry Howe's The Great West. New York, 1856. Wood engravings with original printed color. Octavo. Very good condition.

A fascinating series of wood engraved scenes of the "Great West" from Henry Howe's account issued during the period of the Oregon Trail and the California gold rush, when America's attention was turned to the recently acquired (1846-48) lands in the west. Howe's work, which contained "Narratives of the Most Important and Interesting Events in Western History," was a contemporary account issued to meet the national interest in this region. Included were a series of interesting and unusual images of the west: major sites, events and people. This image show's a rather fanciful image of Pike's Peak in Colorado, "the loftiest peak of the Rocky Mountains." $45

Life on the Plains: Denver City
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
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Central City
Alfred Edward Mathews. "Central City; From the side of Mammoth Hill looking up Gregory and Eureka Gulches." Plate 9 from Pencil Sketches of Colorado, Its Cities, Principal Towns and Mountain Scenery. New York: A.E. Mathews, 1866. Tinted lithograph by J. Bien. 9 3/4 x 16. Tear into image at bottom from left. Print expertly conserved and lined with rice paper. Very good appearance. Denver.

A.E. Mathews (1831-1874) was born in England, but came to the United States at an early age and ended up being raised in Ohio. He worked as a typesetter, itinerant bookseller, and school teacher, with a predilection for landscape sketching. During the Civil War he served in the Union Army with Ohio troops, and made a number of excellent first hand images of scenes behind the front, which were issued by the Cincinnati firm of Ehrgott & Forbriger. After the war, Mathews settled in Denver where he produced a number of portfolios of views of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado and Montana, including the 1866 Pencil Sketches of Colorado from which this print comes. These views are among the earliest views of the burgeoning American west after the Civil War. Mathews took pains to make the views accurate and thus they provide important historical documentation of this important phase of American expansion to the west. Of this view, Mathews said:

"In the view looking up Spring Gulch, Missouri City lies at the head of the gulch, and on the right, in the distance, is Quartz Hill. Just beyond the city, and at the foot of Quartz Hill, are the works of the Montana Gold Mining Company; and further up the gulch the works of the Pacific National Company are seen. In Nevada Gulch, which branches off to the right from Spring Gulch, are the Central Gold Mining Company's Works; and immediately this side, the roof of the Columbia Gold Mining Company's works are seen. The view was taken from the hill-side east of the town, and in the rear of the Theatre."

The Mathews views are among the rarest western images and this is a fine example, showing a Colorado mine city in that brief time when it was bursting with energy and people. $1,800
GoGo to complete Mathews Pencil Sketches

Gregory's Gold Diggings
"Gregory Gold Diggings, Colorado, May, 1859." From Albert D. Richardson's Beyond the Mississippi. Hartford, 1867. Wood engraving by N. Orr. 4 x 5 3/4. Very good condition. Denver.

A detailed wood engraving showing the early diggings in Gregory's Gulch from post-Civil War travel account of the American West. $45

Rocky Mountains
Worthington Whitteredge [sic]. "The Rocky Mountains." From Picturesque America. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1871. Steel engraving by R. Hinshelwood. 5 1/4 x 8 7/8. Very good condition.

Worthington Whittredge (misspelled on this print) was a well-known landscape artist from the mid-west who traveled to the American West with General John Pope's expedition of 1866. About 1870 he produced a painting, "Crossing the Ford, Platte River, Colorado," based on sketches he made during that trip. This is perhaps his best known painting and it was reproduced in print twice. The first was an 1869 wood-engraving in Leslie's Weekly and the second was this engraving from Picturesque America.

This two volume set illustrating the natural wonders of the country, and others of its genre, were popular during the mid-nineteenth century. Through their ample illustrations they provided a glimpse of nineteenth century America, its towns, cities, rivers, ports, important architecture, and other areas of interest. As stated by Sue Rainey, in her excellent Creating 'Picturesque America.', "As the first publication to celebrate the entire continental nation, it enabled Americans, after the trauma of the Civil War, to construct a national self-image based on reconciliation between North and South and incorporation of the West." (p. xiii)

When the editors of Picturesque America wanted to do a chapter on the Rocky Mountains, they selected this image for the steel engraving to accompany the chapter. The image was drawn from somewhere in the vicinity of Denver just a few years after the Colorado gold rush, which brought a large number of settlers to the high prairie along the eastern base of the Rockies. This prints shows a peaceful Indian village in a grove of trees, with Long's Peak in the background, a scene which does not foreshadow the tremendous development of the area that would soon result, especially after the railroads reached Denver the year before this engraving was published. Thus this print is as poignant as it is lovely. $115
GoGo to list of more images of Colorado from Picturesque America

Pate: On the Prairie
William H. Beard. "On The Prairie." From the portfolio Gallery of Landscape Painters--American Scenery. New York: G.P. Putnam & Sons, 1872. Steel engraving by Robert Hinshelwood. 8 3/4 x 12 5/8. Very good condition.

William Holbrook Beard traveled from Atchison to Denver in the summer of 1866, crossing the high plains when it was still relatively undeveloped. A Denver paper mentioned that Beard spent the summer of 1866 having "painted so vividly most of our exquisite mountain scenery..." This image shows those mountains, but from the vantage of the high plains of Colorado. Beard mentions that on his trip "I only saw a few Buffalo on the plains but enough to study them, and ascertain that they are not very available for pictures." The mountains were better sitters for drawing, so Beard almost certainly based his painting on a drawing of the Rockies with the buffalo drawn in from the studies he was able to make. Beard further remarked that "I saw splendid effects of light and shade-storms, etc…" and this painting shows such a storm and the sun dramatically breaking through the clouds. A wonderful and characteristic (though the buffalo are even less available now) view of eastern Colorado. $475

W.M. Cary. "Bust!" From The Aldine. New York, February 1873. Wood engraving. 9 x 13. Very good condition. Denver.

The Aldine. An American Art Journal (1868-79), was started as a house organ for a New York firm of printers, but became a general magazine devoted to art and typography under the editorship of R.H. Stoddard (1871-75). It was filled with wood engravings based on art by some of the best American artists of the day, including most famously Thomas Moran, after whose work thirty-nine prints were made. Many of these, and images by other artists, featured American western landscape, increasing the awareness among the public of the beauty of this region. This is one of the most famous images from the magazine, Cary's classic image based on a poem by Richard Henry Stoddard. Jim Smith, on his way to Pike's Peak, is shown lying dead by his wagon after an Indian attack. One of his oxen is also dead, while the other-still alive despite the arrows in his back-eyes a curious buffalo. While not every gold rush emigrant met such a gruesome fate, this image symbolizes the "bust" part of the famous slogan painted on the side of the wagon, "Pikes Peak or Bust." $275

Creek Creek Canon
Andrew Fisher Bunner. "Clear Creek Cañon, Rocky Mountains." From The Aldine. New York: August 1873. Wood engraving by Meeder-Chubb. 9 x 12 3/4. Very good condition.

Another excellent Colorado view from The Aldine. This image of Clear Creek Canon was drawn by A.F. Bunner (1841-1897), an American artist who is perhaps best known for his European scenes. $150

Smelting silver ore in Colorado
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. Wood engraving. Very good condition.

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
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Azure Cliffs
Thomas Moran. "The Azure Cliffs. Of Green River Colorado." From Picturesque American Scenery. Boston: Estes & Lauriat, 1883. Engraving by W. Wellstood. Very good condition. Denver.

Moran is one of America's best painters of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and he is particularly known for his luminous paintings of the American west. Moran was born in England in 1837 and immigrated to the U.S. with his family in 1844. Moran trained in England and Europe, but his best work is rooted in the natural wonders of his adopted country. He published his images as chromolithographs and engravings and this is one of the rarer of his prints, issued in Picturesque American Scenery. Moran was fascinated by the ethereal beauty of the west and was inspired by the cliffs of the Green River in Colorado. $175

Denver to Pikes Peak
Denver to Pikes' Peak and "the Loop." Denver: H.H. Tammen, Denver, ca. 1891-95. Octavo booklet with original gold stamped cover. 15 page, accordion style with 32 photo-lithographic images. Manufactured by the Chisholm Bros of Portland, Maine. Complete and in very good condition. Denver.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, local souvenir view-books, with folding pages containing photo-lithographed images, were published in great numbers, covering every tourist destination of any consequence in the country. The majority of these books were produced by the Ward Bros. of Columbus or--like in this case--the Chisholm Bros. of Portland. The views in these books were photographically based, printed using a half-tone screen, typically with a brownish or sepia ink. The images were hand-worked before printed, so that the subjects could be enhanced and detail heightened.

View books of the American west are considerably rarer than those of the east, and this is an excellent example of the genre. The book opens with a panorama of Denver from Capitol Hill, looking to the Rockies, and then continues with numerous vignettes of important Denver buildings. Also shown are images of other important sites in eastern Colorado, including the Garden of the Gods, Mt. Abram, the Mount of the Holy Cross, the Royal George and, of course, the Georgetown Loop. Of note are a series of scenes of the Pikes' Peak cog railroad. Completed in 1891, it was probably just about that time this book was produced. Also included is a copy of William Cary's famous image of "Pikes Peak or Bust." $75

Another souvenir view books:

Augustus Koch. "A Bird's Eye View of Aspen Colorado, Pitkin County. 1893. Published by the Aspen Times." Aspen, CO: Aspen Time, 1893. 27 1/4 x 38 1/8. Four stone lithograph. Printed by Hudson-Kimberly Publishing Company, Kansas City. With key to 83 sites. Trimmed to top and sides (just into image) and with some old tears; dry-mounted. With some old stains in top left. Good appearance and a stable print. Reps: 457. Denver.

An attractive example of the only 19th-century bird's-eye view of Aspen, one of perhaps only twenty or so extant copies. Colorado got its start with the Pike's Peak gold rush of 1858-59, but it was the silver boom which really established the economic fortune of the state. Silver was discovered in Leadville in 1878, and the search for more silver led prospectors to set up a camp they called Ute City, renamed Aspen the following year. Within a decade Aspen had boomed so that it had about 12,000 residents, six newspapers, many fine private homes, hotels, taverns, schools, churches, and a theater and opera house. This boom ended very shortly thereafter, with the Panic of 1893, sending the value of silver plummeting and all but destroying the silver industry in Colorado. In Aspen, as elsewhere in Colorado, mines shut down and many other businesses soon followed. The size and wealth of Aspen diminished significantly and it became a quiet backwater until the last century when winter sports again made it one of the most prosperous towns in the state.

In 1893, Augustus Koch produced this magnificent view showing Aspen at the height of its silver prosperity. The Aspen Times sponsored the print, selling the prints for $1 each beginning in June 1893. Almost as soon as the ink was dry, the market for silver collapsed and all those prosperous, interested buyers were no longer so prosperous nor as interested. Thus it seems that very few of these prints were sold at the time. This print contains a very detailed and clear depiction of Aspen from the southwest. Prints like this had to be accurate, in order to sell to the local population, so this print provides a remarkable look at Aspen in its boom years. Each house, public building, school, tunnel, hotel, railroad depot, factory and mine is precisely located and illustrated, with 83 of the sites identified with a key in the bottom margin. This print went through a number of versions, of which this is the most advanced. $15,000

Schuttler Wagons
[Wagons cross Ute Pass in Colorado]. Advertisement for the Peter Schuttler Company, Chicago. Ca. 1895. Chromolithograph by Achert & Henckel, Cincinnati. 21 1/4 x 27 1/4. Mounted on board as issued. With some marginal blemishes, but overall bright and very good condition. Framed. Denver.

A rare print showing wagons crossing the Ute Pass in Colorado, an advertisement for the Peter Schuttler Company of Chicago. Peter Schuttler had emigrated from Germany to Sandusky Ohio in 1834, where he worked for a wagon maker. In 1843, Schuttler moved to Chicago and he soon set up his own business, providing sturdy wagons to meet the demands of western emigration. Schuttler's company became one of the leading wagon manufacturers in the country and it was taken over by his son, Peter Jr., when he died in 1865. By 1880, 300 workers were producing over $400,000 worth of wagons a year. This image shows "The Old Reliable Schuttler Wagon" being used for emigrants moving into the Rockies over the Ute Pass. It is based directly on a stereoview and it is one of the best images of Colorado of the 19th century. $3,600

Cripple Creek
"Cripple Creek. 1896." Phillips & Desjardins, 1896. 27 x 36 1/2. Chromolithograph by Western Litho. Company. Excellent condition. Framed. Reps: 478. Denver.

A spectacular bird's-eye-view of the Colorado mining towns of Cripple Creek and its sister town, Victor. This was the site of the last major Colorado gold rush, when in October 1890, a local rancher, Bob Womack, discovered a rich vein of ore. Thousands of hopeful prospectors flooded the area, including W.S. Stratton who discovered the Independence lode, one of the largest gold discoveries ever. The population boomed from a pre-rush population of under 500 to about 10,000 by 1893 and 19,000 at the time this print was produced.

On April 25th, 1896, Cripple Creek suffered a major fire and then just four days later a second fire, in which the entire business district and a total of 27 blocks, was destroyed. There was money aplenty available, however, so within a short time the city was built from brick, as this print, produced that same year, clearly demonstrates. This is a wonderful example of the pride of the inhabitants, who enthusiasm for the community and desire to boost its prospects inspired the publication of this print.

This image shows not just Cripple Creek, laid out in the rolling foothills below Pikes Peak, but the nearby town of Victor and twenty over vignette images showing local mines, including Stratton's Independence mine. A short description of Cripple Creek and Victor is included in the lower left corner and a listing of the production of the area mines in the lower left. $5,200

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