Notes from the Past

Transcontinental Mail in 1860 - Part IV

When last we noted the progress of Roger Young (Part III of this series), he told us of his arrival in Denver and finding mail at the post office.  It had been delivered by express from Ft. Kearney and cost 25¢ on delivery.  His journal of his search for golden riches in the Colorado gold fields in 1860 was published by R. R. Donnelley & Sons in 1969, John D. Young and the Colorado Gold Rush.

As we rejoin our traveler, he has returned to Denver in late June after a miserable, unsuccessful, and risky trek around the mountains of Colorado trying to find a claim which would be profitable.  Among his first observations were the improvements which had occurred in Denver since he last saw it two months before.

Many buildings had been put up and others were building which would be called first class buildings in many of our eastern cities.  On Larimer St. near the bridge was built a government post office and adjoining it they were constructing a U.S. mint.  It already had the appearance of a substantial and permanent city.
As they arrived in Denver, there were five thousand Sioux Indians encamped near the city.  They were engaged in a war with the Utes who lived in the mountains.  They had just completed a mutual defense treaty with the townspeople of Denver.
Shortly after the treaty was concluded, a crowd of [Sioux] assembled at the post office corner and danced the celebrated war dance.  They ran round in a circle and continually kept up a loud monotonous howl for about two hours.  An immense crowd of people viewed the performance.
Young noted the changes in the mail service in his absence.
The post office opened from morning till night.  You would have to get in the line behind about a hundred.  There was a United States mail route now established and we got our letters for three cents.
To Be Continued

 Posted May 16, 2000

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