Thursday, December 29, 2011

DENVER - THE MILE-HIGH CITY (5,280 feet above sea level)

Not much time for reading over Christmas but have now tucked into the HIDDEN HISTORY OF DENVER written by Elizabeth Victoria Wallace and published by The History Press.

As James LaRue, Director of Douglas County Libraries commented:  “The history of the West is the history of the footloose.  Some were fleeing the law. Some became the law. Others sought fortunes and either gained or lost them – or both.  The history of Denver covering 1858 to the 1940s, is a rich stew of colorful characters.”

Wallace knows her city well.  Denver was originally known as El Dorado and was the place that the gold-seeking pioneers were aiming for.  With so many wagon trains crossing the prairie, often one met the preceding one, forming continuous trains that stretched for almost fifteen miles. 

In 1880, the population of Denver had reached more than 35,000 residents.  In the 1890s, Denver became well known for its curative properties and attracted thousands desirous of finding a cure for tuberculosis and many people escaped the fog-ridden streets of London, England, to make their way to Colorado Springs, then later to Denver. So many English arrived, that the town was dubbed “Little London”.
Although many people suffered from prejudices in Colorado, the native American Ute Indians suffered a unique loss.  They lost their land they had loved and respected for centuries; they lost their livelihood and food source.  The Chinese population of Denver also suffered intolerance and bigotry and Wallace has carefully researched many disparate tales from this rather special place. We learn of  characters like world heavyweight boxing champion Charles L “Sonny” Liston, hit-man turned rodeo promoter Leland Varain, aka “Diamond Jack,” and the city’s daring wall dogs, whose hand-painted building advertisements are fading reminders of a bygone Denver.

Wallace’s book is a wonderful read and  available on Amazon and all good stores. ISBN 9781609493509 or you can contact the History Press directly $19.99.

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