Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/184

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

000,000 and $500,000,000, while some estimates are even higher. So great was the quantity of silver produced that the monetary ratio between gold and silver was disturbed, and the curtailment of the coinage of silver in several countries of America and Europe was brought on partly by the immense quantity of the metal suddenly thrown on the world from the Comstock mines.

In the meantime the Rocky Mountains had been receiving the long-delayed attention of the prospector, and in 1858 gold was found in Colorado, in the sands of Cherry Creek, a tributary of the South Platte River, where the present city of Denver soon grew up. Pioneers poured in from the east, and discoveries followed in rapid succession. In the following few years the mines of the Blackhawk, Central City, Golden, Breckenridge, Boulder and other districts were discovered. In 1859 the placer gold of California Gulch, near where Leadville now stands, was discovered, and the town of Oro City sprang up. The diggings were soon exhausted, however, and Oro City vanished, to be replaced a few years later by Leadville, which grew up after valuable silver ores were discovered in the same locality. Many of the early gold districts of Colorado continue to produce gold, and though some of them are not so much heard of now as are the later discoveries like Cripple Creek, yet they have added largely to the prosperity of the state.

In the meantime the report of the discovery of gold on Pikes Peak drew a vast multitude of people there in 1859, only to be disappointed in their search. Their numbers were greatly increased by many of those who suffered in the financial panic of 1857, and about 100,000 people are said to have sought the new region in the first year. Nothing of value was found on Pikes Peak, and many of the enthusiastic explorers, who had traveled thither in the wagons known as prairie schooners, bearing the inscription "Pikes Peak or Bust," went away with this changed to "Busted." Little did they dream in their disappointment that just west of Pikes Peak, on the small stream of Cripple Creek, were immensely rich gold deposits, that were to be discovered thirty-odd years later. Though the Pikes Peak episode was a failure, it had the effect of bringing a large number of people to Colorado, many of whom, instead of going home, started into the mountains and were the early explorers of mining camps throughout the west. The high and rugged character of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado impeded, though it could not altogether stop, the direct passage westward; in fact, so dangerous were some of the mountain trails that the expression that a man had "gone over the range" came to be applied to any one who had died, and is still heard among "old timers" in many parts of the Colorado Rockies. Hence the Colorado miner tended to spread to the south and north, while the Californians continued to spread along the Pacific coast and eastward into the desert. The two tides of exploration