Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Denver: The Mile High City

"Denver is a likeable town." -- Hannibal Heyes at the end of The Root of it All.

Several other episodes of ASJ also either mention or are partially set in Denver: Return to Devil's Hole; The Posse that Wouldn’t Quit; Dreadful Sorry, Clementine; The Men that Corrupted Hadleyburg; Bad Night in Big Butte; The Clementine Ingredient. Although it is situated 5,280 feet above sea level (see photo of marker at right), Denver receives lots of sunshine and has a generally pleasant climate. So it seemed appropriate to go to Denver on vacation and spend my time there engaging in various Old West activities.

The discovery of gold in 1858 in the area created a gold rush and in 1859, the settlement on the eastern side of Cherry Creek, which was then part of Kansas Territory, was named after the territorial governor, James Denver. In 1865, Denver became the capital of Colorado Territory and later, the state capitol (see photo of Capitol building at right). Nowadays, this city of approximately 600,000 is a mix of the historical and modern. The downtown area around the 16th Street Mall is full of skyscrapers but smaller buildings from the nineteenth century are still standing.

Eating establishments such as The Blake Street Vault, dating from the 1860s and The Broker, where I ate one night, which is a restaurant created out of a bank vault where customers could view the contents of their safety deposit boxes in privacy (see photo of entrance to the vault at right), maintain their period d├ęcor. (Sadly, The Broker closed at the end of 2017.)  In the lobby of a downtown Wells Fargo bank, a stagecoach representing the company’s history is on display (see photo at right) and upstairs, there is a small exhibit about the history of the bank. This was fun to see as it reminded me of the scene in Return to Devil's Hole when Big Jim tells Heyes about his plan to rob the Wells Fargo Clearinghouse.

Following in the footsteps of Heyes and Kid, I absorbed as much Old West atmosphere as possible during my trip, and future blog entries will showcase some of the places I visited. It sure is easy to see why Heyes and Kid enjoyed Denver as much as they did!

Website about the founding of Denver: