First printed images of Pike’s Peak gold rush


“Pike’s Peak—The New Gold Region,” with six vignette illustrations of Pike’s Peakers on their way to the gold fields.  From Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.  New York: April 30, 1859.  Two pages: 342 & 343.  Very good condition.


Gold was discovered near the junction of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek in 1858.  News of the discovery soon made its way back to eastern Kansas Territory and elsewhere in the East by the end of the year.  While some set off in late 1858, there was a flood of those hoping to make their fortunes along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in the spring of 1859; what soon became the “Pike’s Peak Gold Rush.”

This two page spread from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated News includes an article about the gold rush, along with six images showing various miners on their way to the Front Range.  As far as we know, this is the first set of images showing this gold rush, based on first-hand drawings by “our own Correspndent.”  One of the images shows “Girls and Ox Team on the Road,” about which the article states: “They had no men with them, and intended to make the whole journey without any assistance.  Whether they intended to dig gold, or open a store, or whether they went as a matrimonial speculation, I cannot tell…”

The article was prescient in its reporting, for though the rush had just begun, it suggests that “now we may shortly see new cities spring up in spots hitherto tenanted only by the deed and buffalo…”  It is articles like this which inspired more and more to head to the region, reporting that “this beautiful region of country, with its auriferous wealth and fertile valleys, its mountains covered with pine, inexhaustible water power and healthy climate, is now to be developed, and to return to the adventurous and the energetic a thousand fold for their talents and their toil.”