Pikes Peak Gold Rush map 1859


C.H. Deforrest, Jr.. “Map of the Gold Region with the Routes Thereto.” From Harper’s Weekly. New York, April 2, 1859. 4 1/8 x 7 3/8. Wood engraving by N. Orr. On full sheet with text, “How to get to Pike’s Peak Gold Mines.” Very good condition.

SKU: 1-219 Categories: ,


A nice example of the earliest generally available map of the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush. When gold was discovered in the autumn of 1858 in the western part of the Kansas Territory, along the Rocky Mountain foothills near what is today Denver, the news created a great stir in the settled parts of Kansas and Nebraska along the Missouri River, as well as further east. This led, in early 1859, to what became known as the “Pike’s Peak Gold Rush,” in which thousands of hopeful prospectors traveled from cities such as Omaha, Des Moines, St. Joseph, Lawrence, and Kansas City across the plains to the “gold fields.” This rush inspired a number of Pike’s Peak guides and maps, describing and illustrating the routes to take.

One of first such guides, issued in February, was Byers and Kellom’s Hand Book to the Gold Fields of Nebraska and Kansas, which included a small map drawn by D.H. Deforrest Jr. and engraved on wood by N. Orr. This map shows the main northern (following the Platte River) and southern (following at first the Arkansas River) routes. At the time, there were two main gold rush towns, Auraria and Denver City (which were to merge as Denver in early 1860) on either side of Cherry Creek where it empties into the South Platte. The creek is shown on the map, as is Auraria, but there is no mention of Denver.

The map from the Byers and Kellom guide was reissued within two months in Harper’s Weekly from the same block (of which this is a nice example). This example of the map is accompanied by an article on “How to get to Pike’s Peak Gold Mines,” which ends with the prophetic words, “From present appearances, the rush to Pike’s Peak will be tremendous.” The Deforrest map subsequently appeared in a number of issues the Rocky Mountain News, a paper founded by one of the authors of the original guide, William N. Byers, in April 1859. The map was also issued on a broadside. This is thus a very early example of a map which played a not insignificant role in the early dissemination of information about the gold rush.