1859 Pike’s Peak Gold Rush guide & maps


James Redpath & Richard J. Hinton. Hand-Book to Kansas Territory and the Rocky Mountains’ Gold Region; Accompanied by Reliable Maps and a Preliminary Treatise on the Pre-Emption Laws of the United States.  New York: J.H. Colton, 1859.  First edition.  Octavo, with original, blindstamped cloth covers.  177 pp, plus 8 advertising pages.  With 2 folding maps.  Some rubbing and small stains on cover: maps with some foxing, toning and minor separations at folds.  Overall, very good condition.  Graff: 2437; Wagner-Camp: 343; Wheat Transmississippi West: 995.


A very early and rare guide to the gold rush in today’s Colorado.  In 1858, gold had been discovered in the far western part of Kansas Territory, along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  This news was received back in “the states” later that year and created a sensation, with many eager to rush off to take their opportunity to get rich.  This naturally led to a demand for guides to the “Pike’s Peak Gold Region,” as it was called, and these were rushed out as soon as possible by a number of authors and publishers.

This is one such guide.  It started out as a guide to the Kansas Territory, written by two eastern news correspondents who came to Kansas in 1856 and wanted to promote the territory with the aim of getting abolitionists Easterners to move there so it would be become a Free Soil state.  However, when news of the gold discoveries reached them, they hurriedly modified the guides so they could sell it as a Pike’s Peak gold region guide as well.

The guide was expanded to include an appendix including a history the gold discoveries, the development of the settlements in the area, and descriptions of various routes that could be taken from along the Missouri River to the gold fields along the Platte.  The authors got this to print as soon as possible, Wagner-Camp noting that “the information from the gold fields is dated November 1858 or earlier.”  Also of interest are the 8 pages of advertisements at the back, featuring sales pitches for rail routes to the Pike’s Peak gold regions.

Of course, any guide to the gold fields would need maps, so Redpath and Hinton contracted with New York publisher, J.H. Colton, to provide them with three map.  In order not to delay the publication of the guide, these maps were based on maps that Colton already had in stock but updated slightly to reflect their intended use.  The guide includes three maps on two sheets.  The first two maps are enclosed within a decorative border on one sheet:

  • “Kansas and Nebraska.: New York: J.H. Colton, 1858.    Original hand color.

This is essentially the Colton map of these two nascent territories from 1858.  The map focuses on the settled parts of the territories, which are in the east.

  • “Nebraska and Kanzas Showing Pikes Peak and Gold Region.” New York: J.H. Colton, 1859.      Original hand color.

This map is a modified version of the southern half of the 1855 copyrighted, Colton map of the two territories as created in the 1856 Kansas-Nebraska Act.  While elevations have been added to Long’s, Pike’s’, and Spanish Peaks, the main modifications includes the depiction of routes from the east to the Pikes Peak Gold Rush and the addition of the gold mining settlements of Montana, Denver and Auraria.

  • “Military Map of Parts of Kansas, Nebraska and Dakota.” New York: J.H. Colton, 1859.

This originated with the map in the report by Lieut. G.K. Warren of the explorations made by him in 1855-57, a map published by Colton.  It shows the southern portion of that map with some modifications.