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A Gold Hunter's Experience

A Gold Hunter's Experience by Chalkley J. Hambleton
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“Early in the summer of 1860, I had an attack of gold fever. In Chicago, the conditions for such a malady were all favorable. Since the panic of 1857 there had been three years of general depression, money was scarce, there was little activity in business, the outlook was discouraging, and I, like hundreds of others, felt blue.”

Thus Chalkley J. Hambleton begins his pithy and engrossing tale of participation in the Pike’s Peak gold rush.

Four men in partnership hauled 24 tons of mining equipment by ox cart across the Great Plains from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Denver, Colorado. Hambleton vividly recounts their encounters with buffalo herds, Indians, and”the returning army of disappointed gold seekers.”

Setting up camp near Mountain City, Colorado, Hambleton watched one man wash “several nice nuggets of shining gold” from the dirt and gravel, only to learn afterwards that “these same nuggets had been washed out several times before, whenever a ‘tenderfoot’ would come along, who it was thought might want to buy a rich claim.”

Two years later, “tired and disgusted with the whole business,” Hambleton returned to Chicago, where he arrived “a wiser if not richer man.”

In later years, Hambleton was a prominent Chicago lawyer, real estate developer, and a member of the Chicago Board of Education. He wrote this candid account for family and friends, publishing it privately in 1898. It is based in good part on letters he had sent from the gold fields to his sister. Summing up his experience with wry humor, he writes: “After selling out my interest in the joint enterprise, I still had left some fifty claims on various lodes . . . Some time after returning to Chicago, I was making a real estate trade . . . and I threw in these fifty gold mines. . . Had I only kept them, and gotten up some artistic deeds of conveyance, in gilded letters, what magnificent wedding presents they would have made. . . In the long list of high-sounding, useless presents, the present of a gold mine would have led all the rest.”

First Page:

A GOLD HUNTER'S EXPERIENCE

BY CHALKLEY J. HAMBLETON

CHICAGO PRINTED FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION 1898

I have often been asked to write an account of my Pike's Peak Expedition in search of gold. The following attempt has been made up partly from memory and partly from old letters written at the time to my sister in the east.

C. J. H.

A Gold Hunter's Experience

Early in the summer of 1860 I had a bad attack of gold fever. In Chicago the conditions for such a malady were all favorable. Since the panic of 1857 there had been three years of general depression, money was scarce, there was little activity in business, the outlook was discouraging, and I, like hundreds of others, felt blue.

Gold had been discovered in the fall of 1858 in the vicinity of Pike's Peak, by a party of Georgian prospectors, and for several years afterward the whole gold region for seventy miles to the north was called "Pike's Peak." Others in the East heard of the gold discoveries and went West the next spring; so that during the summer of 1859 a great deal of prospecting was done in the mountains as far north as Denver and Boulder Creek... Continue reading book >>


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