After the Gold Rush

by Ethan Seavey

Agnes Miner Collection; Gift, Colorado Springs Ghost Town Club. Breckenridge History, Colorado.

Breckenridge, Colorado: a village in the Rocky Mountains which is now known for its popular ski resort. Before 1859, it was a valley with a lush Blue River running through the crease by the foothills of the Ten Mile Range. In 1859, gold was first mined in Breckenridge. After 1859, over 5,000 white men (some estimate closer to 8,000) flocked to the valley, and the village sprung up quickly after.

Many of those men (for they were nearly all men) had stopped on their way home from the gold rush on the west coast, and others had come from out east. They had experience in mining, which not only meant knowledge of how to effectively collect the gold from the mountains, but that they knew how to survive in the isolated wilderness. In the 1860s, a gold miner from Breckenridge would earn about three dollars a day. Let’s make this clear: three dollars a day was a good amount of money. Many people across America were only earning a dollar, and others had no job. If being a miner didn’t pay well, no one would have come so far to work such a dangerous job. Every day, he would spend one dollar on his boarding, another on food and booze and an hour in a brothel, and send the third home to his family out east.

Mining meant stability at home (usually, back East) when work was hard to find. Still, they weren’t educated enough to learn that they were being cheated. The owner of the claim would take an average of ten dollars of gold from each of his men, every day. The owners lived in nice homes, and some of them never even laid their eyes on the mines. If you could afford it, you wouldn’t be living in Breckenridge. Read more »

Colorado’s Blue Tsunami: Taking it Nationwide

by Joan Harvey

Photo by Dave Russell;

Colorado has been a purple state so long that the last time the Democrats had all down ballot State offices, the State House, and State Senate was in 1936. We’re a cowboy state. On the map we’re a sea of red with a tiny blue area to the east of the Continental Divide, plus the tiny population of Aspen. But those small urban and suburban areas have more and more people, and increasingly those people have a voice. And this time that voice has brought us a gay Jewish Democrat as governor, as well as a Democratic attorney general, secretary of state, and treasurer. Democrats will control the State House and State Senate. We’re so damn Blue we’re almost cobalt.

How did we do it? Can it be duplicated on a national level? It’s national news that we elected the nation’s first openly gay governor. But we also elected Colorado’s first African American congressman and he’s only 34. We elected the first transgender state rep. We elected more Latinxs to the state legislature. We elected the first Democratic woman to the position of secretary of state and she beat the incumbent in a seat that hasn’t been held by a Democrat since the Eisenhower years. All five of the female candidates in competitive districts for State Senate won handily. And for Congress, Democrat Jason Crow aced the previously unbeatable Republican incumbent Mike Coffman, who had won the previous five terms. Trump blamed Coffman for not embracing him, but in actuality it was Crow’s ability to tie Coffman to Trump that helped Crow win.

Maybe it’s marijuana. Coloradans are so relaxed they just couldn’t work up a rage against a small raggedy caravan of women and children hundreds of miles away. But clearly, the real reason for the great Blue success is Trump. Read more »