Mail Service in the early West

stagecoachThe first mail service to the west was carried on horseback. It went to New Mexico territory after the Mexican American War. Mail carriers traveled from Independence, Missouri to Santa Fe.

The use of postage stamps began that same year. Previously, the person who received a letter paid the postage. Mail service was not very dependable. Senders did not want to pay for mail that might not be delivered. Paying to send a letter was like an insult. It suggested the receiver could not afford to pay for it.

Changing habits was difficult. The Post Offices began charging the receiver double for letters without stamps. In 1856 senders were required to pay the postage or the letter was not sent. Exceptions were made with the local post office ran out of stamps.

The first United States mail delivery to Denver arrived on August 10, 1860. Prior to that mail came by stage coach. A person receiving mail had to pay the stage company a fee of “two bits” for a letter and a dime for each newspaper delivered.

Published in: on August 10, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Happy Holidays

Xmas D&F Tower

Look carefully at this festive 1920’s Denver street scene and you will find a lighted Santa Claus with a packful of presents above the clock on the Daniels & Fisher tower. Christmas tree shapes, formed by strings of lights, are visible at the base of the tower. The massive Daniels & Fisher Department Store occupies the rest of the block. Sixteenth street is decorated with lighted ropes of evergreen stretched above the street and centered with wreaths. 
Today, only the tower remains.
May memories of Christmases past light your holidays. 

Photo courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

Published in: on December 22, 2014 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

A Road from Denver to Salt Lake 1861

Jim Bridger

June 19, 1861
William Gilpin, the new Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Colorado Territory, wrote to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs:

“The necessities of our country render necessary the establishment of a great road from Denver to Salt Lake City. This road crosses the Cordillera about 60 miles due west from Denver, and then traverses the northwest quarter of Colorado diagonally. Harvie M. Vaile has been assigned to this region.”
          “Availing myself of the departure of a well selected surveying party, conducted by E.L. Berthoud, a most skillful civil engineer, and accompanied by the experienced guide, James Bridger, I have instructed Agent Vaile to accompany them; to visit Salt Lake City, and confer with the agency there; to ascertain the number, localities, etc. of the Indians living within this superintendency; and fit himself to organize his department and locate at Breckinridge, beyond the snowy Cordillera.”

The Encyclopedia Britannica defines cordillera as:  “(from old Spanish cordilla, “cord,” or “little rope”), a system of mountain ranges that often consist of a number of more or less parallel chains. Cordilleras are an extensive feature in the Americas and Eurasia. In North America the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Nevadas, and the mountains between them are collectively known as the Cordilleras, and the entire area has been termed the Cordilleran region. ”

Photo courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

Taking the Census: Colorado Growth

The Census Bulletin, Issue 127, produced by the United States Census Office, October 21, 1891, offered analysis of Colorado’s growth from the 1880 to the 1890 census.
          The population of Colorado more than doubled in the ten years between census counts. From 194,327 people in 1880, the state grew 112% to 412,198 residents by 1890.
          In 1880, Denver was the largest city with 35,629 residents; Leadville was second with 14,820 people. By 1890, Denver had grown 199.5% to 106,713.  Pueblo had become the second largest town with 24,558, an increase of 663.38%. By contrast, Leadville’s population had dropped to 10,384 and Colorado Springs had slipped into third place with 11,140 residents.
          Only 29 towns had populations greater than 1,000 people in 1890. One new community of interest was established after the 1880 census. The mining town of Chipeta in Pitkin County had 266 residents by 1890.

Published in: on May 3, 2010 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Crossing the Col to Denver

Every weekday morning I look forward to finding a new word in my inbox. No, I don’t hunt treasure in my email messages. My daily word is delivered by A.Word.A.Day. Today’s word is “col”. From the French col and the Latin collum – both meaning “neck” – it is a term for a mountain pass. This week’s theme is words from geology and geography: archipelago, monadnock, shoal, and now col. My daily word message includes pronunciation, meaning, etymology, and a sample of current usage. I keep a file of the unique words I would like to use in my writing.

            Need a daily writing prompt to get you going? Subscribe to the free A.Word.A.Day


Published in: on September 25, 2008 at 8:50 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,