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The New York Times, September 12, 1870 p. 2:


Its Advantages and Disadvantages--A Rich Field for Missionary Work--Denver by Gas-Light.

From Our Special Correspondent.

Denver, Monday, Sept. 5, 1870.
    In giving your readers some account of the capital city of Colorado, I am tempted, by the hearty welcome accorded us by its best citizens to, to say all than can be said in its favor, before mentioning its disadvantages. Seven hundred miles from the civilization of the East, with which, until recently, it could communicate only by long and weary journeys in wagons over arid plains, infested by savage Indians and hopelessly separated, by natural causes, from the inhabited portions of the Pacific Coast, this little city has struggled against "big odds," as they would phrase it here, and has, apparently, won the fight.

    With two railroad routes to the Missouri River, and the same sources of wealth existing which established Denver under difficulties, there is no seeming reason why she should not have as steady a growth during the next ten years as, in the same period just passed, has raised her from the site of half a dozen log-cabins to a city with brick hotels, churches and school-houses, rows of stores and residences of no mean pretensions, banks, theatres, and all the paraphernalia of greatness.

    With an inviting climate, which delights the lungs of strong men, and often restores health to persons afflicted with consumption or athsma, she unites a beautiful location, within full view and easy distance of the "Snowy Range" of the Rocky Mountains. The soil of the surrounding plains is said to need irrigation only to teem with all the fruits of all the zones...

    Her commercial advantages include a monopoly of the trade with the miners of Colorado, and the merchants, farmers and stock raisers of that Territory, New-Mexico and Eastern Arizona. Lines of stages regularly connect her with the communities of Puebla, Trinidale, Fort Lyon, Mount Vernon, Idaho, Downieville, Georgetown, and numerous other unheard of points lying to the westward and southward. Three daily newspapers shed their effulgent rays over her 6,000 inhabitants...

    If there is on the globe a promising field for missionary work, Denver is the place... Here, in the capital of Colorado, are moral leprosies and reckless heathenisms sufficiently developed to satisfy the most ardent devotee...

    Passing along the street at dusk, every step brought us in contact with drunken men, swaggering and swearing, on the lookout for the next dram-shop. They had not far to seek, for the retail liquor trade holds a prominence here. Entering one of these dens, which is brilliantly alight, we find it crowded with men in all stages of intoxication. Most of them wear the roughest garb of the "plains," and are probably teamsters, miners and drovers.

    When they have drank enough poison to render them easy victims, the lair of the "tiger" is at hand. Just in the rear of the dram-shop is another room, whose furniture consists of four tables and numerous chairs. Two of the tables are devoted to faro, one is for rouge et noir, and behind the fourth an industrious gentleman busily turns a roulette wheel, occasionally paying the "stool-pigeon" who is playing the part of decoy, the astonishing odds of twenty-seven for one! With singular generosity he calls attention to these strokes of fortune(!) and invites the audience to come and "tackle" him while he is in "bad luck."

    Faro is the choice of the many, and those two tables are entirely hidden from view by the throngs around them. Youths and old men, rough miners and shabby-genteel habitu?s mingle here on a level, and joke or wrangle, as varying fortunes frame their moods.

    Thespis, dragged to this sink, of course, becomes a bawd. Advertisements on the wall inform the inquiring mind that in the next room--a long hall, with entrance on the whisky-shop--there will be produced the "Great Success, the Blonde Shoo-Fly and Statue Blanche." Noises that bring to mind the pit of the old Bowery in its palmy days are issuing from the hall, but here are other "sights" to be seen, and we hasten on.

    Two doors to the right and up a broad staircase, well lighted, we find one of several "keno" rooms which Denver boasts. The entire floor is covered with long tables, at which men are seated industriously gambling away the small sums they have earned, begged, or stolen during the day--for this game is the choice of small gamblers, and is not, like "faro," one on which fortunes may change hands a the turn of a card. Some jubilantly, but by far the greater number haggardly and wearily, they listened to the calls of the game-keeper, far into the watches of the night, and looked wistfully for the numbers which, at last, could only blast what little hope was left them.

    And this is Denver by night. No Excise law compels the debauch to cease at midnight or hide itself behind closed doors. Flared in the faces of such good citizens as would enforce a different state of things but cannot, gambling and lawlessness hold full sway, while lewd women, with their more degraded fellows, go forth at dusk and drive decency to cover with their abandoned talk and gestures...

    Of course, this condition of things must come to an end. When a permanent society has obtained control of the town, its worst elements will seek new fields, among the new towns further West--the resorts of miners, who seem to be marked as peculiar victims of the gamblers--or they will be returned to the slums of the East, whence they have been called by the scent of prey.