A Historical Novel by R. Reed Johnson

Resource - How To Get To Pike's Peak Gold Mines, 
Harper's Weekly, April 12, 1859,  page 220

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View an image of the actual 1859 "Map of the Gold Regions with the routes thereto".   HTML  (231KB)          PDF  (240KB)  

   In Lieutenant G. K. Warren's report of the topographical survey of the Territory of Nebraska, speaking of the southwestern portion in connection with the Pacific Railroad, he says: "These regions will yet be inhabited by civilized men, and the communications with the East will require roads, independent of the wants of an interior overland route to the Pacific;" "and should gold be discovered there in valuable quantities, as there have been found indications, this result may be much nearer than we anticipate."  This result has taken place.  Gold has already been discovered in valuable quantities, from Cherry Creek to more than one hundred miles north of Fort Laramie, on nearly all the streams heading in the Rocky Mountains and Black Hills.  Hundreds are even now wintering in this region, from Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri; and thousands from California, and all parts of the North, East, and South will concentrate there early in the coming season.  Measures are already in progress to organize immediately a new Territory west of Nebraska and Kansas.  A representative has been chosen by the miners, now in Washington for this purpose.

   The respectability and amount of testimony as to the wealth and extent of the gold region admits of no doubt; and the shortest and quickest approach to the mines, from different points, becomes a question of immediate importance.

   From California and Utah, the route will, of course, be through the Cheyenne, or South Pass.  To parties residing east of Nebraska and Kansas the accompanying map will render the following explanation clear.  The mining region has been but partially explored; but so far as prospected the richest deposits are on the forks of the Platte, Cherry Creek, and Medicine Bow rivers, and all Laramie Plains -- which Plains lie between the Black Hills and the Rocky Mountains, and alone cover an area of some five hundred square miles.  The only Post-office point at present for this is Fort Laramie.

   Fort Kearney is a little south of east of Fort Laramie, and distant from it three hundred and seven miles.  Any approach to the mines lying north of Cherry Creek from the East, between Leavenworth and Sioux City, should make first for Fort Kearney, and thence by the north side of the Platte, because, as stated by Lieutenant Warren, "any route that takes the south side of the Platte has the south fork to cross at a point where bridging it or establishing a ferry is at this time impracticable.  The road there, along the north fork, has bad places at Ash Hollow and Scott's Bluffs.  The route by the north side of the Platte is, therefore, of particular value, especially for early travel in the spring, when the streams are generally high."

   Starting from Kansas City, the shortest overland route to the nearest mines is seven hundred and forty miles, part of which may be traveled by stage semi-monthly; but miners choosing this route had better start with their own teams.  Proceeding by the Missouri River to Leavenworth, the distance from that point to Fort Kearney is three hundred and nineteen miles.  There is no stage on this route.  Proceeding to St. Joseph, either by the river or the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad, the distance from that point to Fort Kearney is three hundred and thirty-seven miles.  There is a weekly stage running from St. Joseph to Fort Kearney -- fare, fifty dollars; time, seven to eight days.

   Starting from Council Bluffs and Omaha, which points are reached either by daily stage across Iowa or daily boats up the Missouri River, the distance to Fort Kearney is one hundred and eighty-three miles.  A mail-stage runs from the last-named point to Fort Kearney tri-weekly -- fare, twenty-five dollars; time, three to four days.  This line and the line from St. Joseph unite at Fort Kearney, and from that point runs weekly to Fort Laramie, which is within the gold regions.

   The usual overland emigrant route for Utah and California, from the East, now mostly crosses Iowa, and strikes the Missouri River at Council Bluffs, where there is the best ferry on the Missouri River north of its mouth; and thus reaching Omaha, start at once on the old Mormon trail and the central route for the Pacific Railroad, which all recognize as the most feasible from the Missouri River to the Mountains, and of which Lieutenant Warren, in the report of his topographical survey, thus speaks: "Of all the valleys of rivers running into the Missouri, that if the Platte furnishes the best route for any kind of a road leading to the interior, and the best point for starting is Omaha city.  An appropriation of fifty thousand dollars has been expended on bridges, etc., on the eastern portion of it, and the only important improvement remaining to make it far superior to any route on the south side of the Platte is the establishment of a good crossing of Loup Fork, either by bridge or ferry."

   The stage routes referred to will, probably, be made daily the coming season; they certainly will from Omaha to Fort Kearney, and probably to Fort Laramie.  The Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad will be finished early in the spring.  A line of first-class packets will ply daily between St. Louis and St. Joseph, and Council Bluffs and Omaha.  an outfit for the mines, with tools and provisions for six months, will cost from fifty to sixty dollars. -- Miners going in company can economize by joining and purchasing a team of either oxen or mules, which with all other necessary outfit, can be had at fair rates at any of the points estimated above as points of starting.  The region about the mines is well adapted to agriculture, but for the coming season provisions must be provided in advance.

   From present appearances, the rush to Pike's Peak will be tremendous.


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