Uniting Mountain and Plain
Cities, Law, and Environmental Change along the Front Range
Publication Year: 2002
Published by: University of New Mexico Press
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AS I contemplate the path that this project followed over the years, I am reminded of the many obligations I incurred. Like many first books, this one emerged from my dissertation. At the University of Chicago, I worked with outstanding professors who daily offered new intellectual challenges. I am particularly grateful to my dissertation...
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Twenty-four-year-old Henry Porter left Atchison, Kansas, for Denver in 1862. Like many other talented young men, he saw opportunity in the frontier town along the front range of the Rocky Mountains. Recognizing the young city’s role as the regional entrepôt, Porter hoped to make his fortune in freighting and merchandising there. He...
ONE. Holding the Purse Strings: Denver Emerges
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In November 1858, a new town emerged at the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. With only a few buildings, Denver appeared larger on paper than in reality. William Pierson, however, proved prophetic. In less than a decade, Denver ascended the region’s urban hierarchy. It monopolized the area’s transportation, communications...
TWO. Vanquishing the Indians: Denver Clears the Plains
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Gold provided the immediate impetus for the large migration to Denver and its mining camps. Yet, from the city’s earliest days, its boosters recognized that minerals alone would not ensure their prosperity nor their posterity. A diversified, and thus more competitive and autonomous, economy required a viable agricultural sector....
THREE. Taming the Desert: Denver Turns to Agriculture
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With the Civil War over and only a few scattered Plains Indians remaining, Denverites prepared to convert the Great American Desert into “one of the garden spots of the world.” Complex motives compelled this ecological transformation. Regional farmers and the urban entrepreneurs who recruited them believed in the market, but their commitment to laissez-faire capitalism was neither constant nor...
FOUR. Creating a Valuable Niche: Colorado Springs and the Tourist Trade
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The region’s farmers did more than change its landscape and expand its economic bases. They fulfilled important notions of social good, occupying the middle state between the savage and the refined.1 In 1894, historian Frederick Jackson Turner argued that across a series of primitive frontiers, pioneers became both part of nature and its conquerors, and in the process, learned to be Americans. His essay...
FIVE. Forging Steel: Pueblo’s Incomplete Challenge
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While its founders quickly defined Colorado Springs’s role within the regional hierarchy, other towns struggled to find their places. Urban careers were rarely stable or continuous.1 From its trading post beginnings through its emergence as “the great ore market of the West,” Pueblo’s fortunes waxed and waned in response to local events like the...
SIX. Mastering Nature: Reality and Illusion
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Their residents perceived Denver, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo as cities of nature. The resources of their hinterlands combined with the skills of their entrepreneurs and the timing of their settlement to determine their hierarchical positions within the urban system. These communities imposed new human geographies, uniting the ecosystems of...
EPILOGUE: Losing Control
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By 1902 Denver anchored an urban hierarchy whose tentacles extended over “hundreds of miles in every direction.” The metropolis and her sister cities converted natural resources into commodities, joined diverse hinterlands to distant markets, and intentionally transformed their physical world, initiating processes that linked distinct ecosystems in environmental change. Front-range entrepreneurs...
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Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 23 halftones, 3 maps
Publication Year: 2002