First views of Denver 1859


“Scenes and Sketches at Pike’s Peak.—From Photographs by our own Correspondent.”  From Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.  New York: August 20, 1859.  Wood engravings.  Some light damp stains.  Else, very good condition.

  • A.B.  “Denver City, K.T.—See page 182.”  4 3/4 x 9 3/8
  • “The Rocky Mountain News Office, Auraria, K.T.”  4 1/2 x 4 3/4.
  • “View at Pike’s Peak—See Page 182.”  4 3/8 x 9 3/8.  Engraved by Dixon.

Click here to see all three of the views from this series.


A rare example of three of the images from a series that together form the first printed views of Denver.  The settlements at the confluence of Cherry Creek with the South branch of the Platte River, which formed the basis for today’s city of Denver, were set up late in 1858.  One group settled on the south side of Cherry Creek, in a community they called Auraria, and another group settled on the north side, in a community which was first called St. Charles, but soon was changed to Denver City.  These two settlements joined in April 1860, keeping the name Denver.

The settlements were established because of the discovery of gold and Denver became the center of the subsequent Pike’s Peak Gold Rush.  With the tens of thousands of emigrants to the area in the spring of 1859, Frank Leslie sent a party to write an article and provide illustrations for his Illustrated Newspaper.  This was the first report on Denver to appear in the newspaper, and the first with illustrations to appear anywhere.

The images, the first of Denver, were said to be based on photographs “by our own Correspondent,” who is not named.  However, the Denver Rocky Mountain News identified the man taking photographs for the group as a Mr. Welch, about whom we know nothing else.  This page contains three images, one of which shows the Rocky Mountain News office, the paper having opened in April 1859.  Another image is an overall view of Denver City, probably looking southwest and showing many of the cabins without roofs.  The final image is called a “View at Pike’s Peak.”  As this name was generally applied to the gold rush communities, it is not clear what this shows.  However, as the series does not elsewhere show an overall view of Auraria, and as this is clearly not a mountain scene, it is not unlikely a view of that settlement.