Imágenes de páginas

monte, was once professor in an Eastern college, and afterward minister of the Gospel in Western New-York. Near him is the stand of a former Kansas deacon, now a dealer in whiskey and other like commodities. But notice that slight frame and womanly face, from which a huge cigar protrudes. John Phænix, when in charge of the San-Diego Herald, advertised for a small boy to work about the office, and added as postscript : 'No young woman in disguise need apply.' This would seem a superfluous appendage to a public notice, but it would be necessary in Pike's Peak, for 'female women' in male attire are occasionally seen ; and the specimen now under contemplation is one of 'em.' Lastly comes a 'greaser' or New Mexican native, clad in the sombrero and serape of his region, with a pair of enormous spurs attached to his heels and jingling at every step. He would not be seriously injured if held under a pump for the space of half-an-hour.

Denver Hall, a notorious gaming and drinking-saloon, deserves a passing notice. It is a building some twenty-five by sixty feet, and its single apartment is nightly thronged by an eager multitude. Around the hall are ranged tables, behind which are seated professors of the art of making money by easy process.' Grouped around these tables are those who trust their fortunes on the turn of a card or the revolving of a wheel, and it is interesting to watch the countenances of the betters as the games go on. A band of music occupies an elevated position, and the bar on the left-hand corner has a most liberal practice. The air is vitiated with tobacco-smoke and the odor of bad whiskey. Oaths and ribald songs and jests are heard, and a fight is looked upon as an occurrence scarcely deserving of notice. In addition to the above disagreeables, the frequenters of the place have a way when drunk of letting off revolvers, sometimes selecting a mark, and at others making only a general and miscellaneous shot. To a nervous and quietly-disposed individual these non-particularized bullets are not at all agreeable, and he is glad to get out of their range as speedily as possible.

The drama is not unknown in Denver. A theatre is in nightly operation in a hall on Larimer-street, where tragedies and comedies are enacted, to the delight of the two or three hundred that compose the audience. In constant attendance, and occasionally on the stage, can be seen the famous 'wheel-barrow man,' a plucky printer, who came to this country in the early times, trundling a fine specimen of an 'Irishman's coach' all the way from Kansas City. With him usually appears a sedate foreigner, known as Count Murat, who asserts with great vehemence that he is nephew to the King of Italy. How are the mighty fallen! The audience that assembles there is composed almost entirely of the sterner sex. It is rude and boisterous, and gives vent to its feelings in a most demonstrative manner, but the visitor will seldom hear expressions absolutely coarse and indecorous. One dollar is the price of admission to this temple of Thespis.

The architecture of Denver is exceedingly varied. The most modest habitation that met my gaze during numerous perambulations through the consolidated city, was a wagon-body removed from the wheels, and furnished with a stove and other house-keeping comforts. In this snug domicile lived a Missouri native with his wife and three children. One degree above this is the tent of canvas which has served for shelter on the plains, and is now used as a local habitation. Next is a small frame or log basement, some four or six feet in height, with an upper part, or roof, of canvas — a style of architecture quite popular with the keepers of one-horse groggeries. Better than this is the logcabin, with a floor of mother earth: a roof of poles, covered with dirt; a rude chimney, composed of sticks, stones and mud, but with no mode of lighting the domestic retreat, save through the opened door. The early settlers considered such accommodations quite palatial. Then come frame-buildings of all grades and descriptions, and last on the upward scale are the fine three-story brick warehouses that adorn the principal business streets. Stone has not yet come into use as a building material. Nowhere, in a city of five thousand inhabitants, can be shown such a diversity of architectural taste as in Denver.

A two-story frame building in the middle of Cherry Creek (which, by the way, is a mythical stream, being destitute of water) attracts the attention of the curious. It faces in no particular direction, and its corners are of the geometrical order of angles known as acute and obtuse. It is the place whence emanates the Rocky Mountain News, as a huge sign on the roof proclaims. The senior editor will tell you that his office was thus oddly shaped to ward off the force of the severe winds, but the Recorder's books show that the lot on which the building is located is of just such shape as the domicile indicates. In the spring of 1859, before the country had become convinced of the reality of Pike's Peak, a press and printing materials were started from Omaha for these western gold-fields. Arriving in the month of March, the owners went immediately at work, and in a few days thereafter appeared the initial number of the Rocky Mountain News. It is now by far the best daily and the most attractive weekly newspaper west of St. Louis. Its editors are human curiosities, and worthy of niches at Barnum's. The senior was 'raised'in Ohio. He has been a pioneer settler in Iowa, Nebraska, Oregon and Pike's Peak; has acted as Government surveyor in all those territories, excepting the last; has been four times over the plains; was once shot and badly wounded in an attempt to quell a riot; and on numerous occasions has listened to the pleasing whistle of a bullet in close proximity to his head. “Moving accidents by flood and field' he can relate without number. The junior, an ardent admirer of a huge meershaum, is by birth a New-Yorker. He has published papers in Buffalo, Chicago, Melbourne, New Zealand, Peru and California. Australia and adjacent lands, many isles of the Pacific, South-America, and all parts of the United States, have received the impress of his restless foot, and where next he may turn up, it is difficult to imagine. A novelist might make a fine two-volume romance from the history of these two men. If he had, in addition, the career of each of the workmen in the composing and press-rooms- no less than four of whom have been editors of daily papers in various parts of the Union — the ‘Scottish Chiefs' would be a mere nothing.

Journalism at Pike's Peak, like the course of true love, does not run smooth. Repeated shots have been fired at the News office by indignant 'roughs;' the editors have been assaulted at various times, and on a few occasions their lives have been in great jeopardy. In July last, as the senior editor was quietly seated in his sanctum, several ruffians entered, and two of them presenting cocked revolvers at his head, requested him to take a pleasant walk with them to a gambling-saloon a few squares distant. As their invitation was pressing, he accepted it, and proceeded to the place designated. He was saved from being there shot down only by a stratagem of the saloon-keeper. Every few weeks a threat of cleaning out the News office is made by its enemies, and the whole corps, from the devil' upward, is prepared to resist such a purifying process. The sanctum abounds in guns and revolvers, always at hand; and in squally times each man in the composing-room has a “six-shooter' by the side of his copy. The foreman sports a huge 'navy'at his belt, and the roller-boy is ready to support the honor of the establishment with the weapon of his branch of trade. Pleasant business, publishing newspapers at Pike's Peak!

Law is not by any means unknown in Denver. The gentlemen of the green bag are quite numerous — more numerous, in fact, than learned, though there are a few men of ability among them. The territory being as yet unorganized, there is no regular and acknowledged system of laws. The various Solons of this embryonic Athens uphold different modes of dealing out justice, as their fancies or their educations impel them. Some are in favor of the United States laws, and others are clamorous for those of the Territory of Kansas; some desire the enforcement of the ordinances of the people of Denver,' and others see great poetic beauty in the code of the Provisional Government; a few of the legal practitioners desire a general and miscellaneous combination of the four. The ‘Provisional Government of Jefferson' had its origin during the babyhood of the Territory. At that time the fossilized political loafers who had wandered from various parts of the States to Pike's Peak, set about putting in order the confused elements found there. Conventions were held, elections instituted, legislatures convened, and laws passed. Thus sprung into existence the famous Provisional Government, in which nearly all the officers were self-elected and also self-paid. A few men of respectability among them give a little vitality to the institution, but the majority bear too strong a resemblance to the Bowery boy or the steam-boat deck-hand to figure to advantage in high position. A court under this government is a decided curiosity. In one that I entered not long since, the judge occupied the highest seat in the tribunal, dealing out justice to the litigious. A pair of dilapidated pants covered his nether extremities, and outside their terminations was a pair of huge stogy boots. Covering his shoulders was a shirt that for a long time had not seen a washerwoman; and around his waist a belt, holding full in view an enormous bowieknife and a navy revolver. Out of his rosy face and unkept beard protruded a common clay pipe, from which the smoke of vile tobacco rose like incense, and adown his chin two rivulets of amber-colored saliva held their meandering way. The prosecuting attorney sat on the stove, it was warm weather,) and the opposing counsel was ensconced on a huge billet of wood. In corresponding freedom from the conventionalities of fashionable life were the jury, litigants and spectators. At least one-half of those present were solacing their cares with the smoke of

"SUBLIME tobacco, which from east to west,

Cheers the tar's labor and the Turkman's rest.' Murderers are generally tried by a ' People's Court,' or in other words, by the celebrated Judge Lynch. Every thing is conducted with the utmost fairness to the accused, and he is allowed all that he would receive in a regular court at the East, with the exception of the benefit of technicalities. After the sentence has been given, it is brought before the people present in the following manner:

"Shall the decision of the Judge, with regard to the prisoner now before you, be carried out? All in favor will answer · Ay.'

[ocr errors]

“Those opposed will answer, 'No.'
It is seldom that the response of the people is not in the affirmative.

The first account of gold in this region that ever crossed the Missouri river appeared in a Boston journal in the spring of 1858. In the autumn of that year, many residents of the towns along the Missouri river started for the auriferous land. Cities' in abundance were laid out, the most of which still remain in statu quo. But little else was done farther than to ascertain that gold really existed in the Pike's Peak region. In 1859 a large emigration, principally from the Western States, passed over the plains, the most of which 'stampeded' soon after its arrival. In 1860, the number of those who arrived in the mining region was not far from seventy-five thousand, and it was composed of a much better class than those who made the hegira of the previous year. Rich placers were opened and worked, quartz-mills set in successful operation, explorations made, proving the existence of gold in all the country between Fort Laramie and El Paso, the soil cultivated and found to be exceedingly fertile, and every thing promised the rapid development of the land beyond the plains. Now the cañons and gorges of the Rocky Mountains are alive with men toiling to move from its resting-place the glittering metal which charms alike the savage and the civilized eye. The steam-whistle and the mill-stamp awake the echoes where but lately the howl of the wolf and the scream of the panther were the only sounds. An enormous influx of the hard-handed sons of toil is pouring in the present year, and very soon Pike's Peak will bear no mean comparison with California and the other gold countries of the world.

BROTHERS ! wave high our banner proud,

With blood of patriots crimsoned gory :
The stars that gem its azure cloud

Are souls of heroes, set in glory.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »