Biography John W. Smith: Denver’s Forgotten City Shaper

By Kathleen Barlow*

During the first week of June 1860, the Rocky Mountain News carried ads not only for “Fat Cattle” and “Miners Supplies”, but also for “Architects and Builders”.  Denver residents, although numbering only 4,749, hoped to build a metropolis—A Queen City-- at the foot of the majestic Rockies. 

A wave of optimism swept into town with the four or five hundred immigrants arriving weekly that spring.[i] The greenhorns found a town of hastily thrown-together tents and ramshackle cabins. The weather on June 3 was as raw as the town. A blustery north wind whipped a misty rain into light snow.[ii] The chilly weather did not deter the newcomers, who arrived dreaming of gold and opportunity. Many fortune seekers would find their hopes of easy money dashed.  However, one family who arrived that June would shape the foundations of this baby town.

Denver City: 1860

Three weeks after leaving his home in Lancaster, Kansas, with a light buggy, a span of mules, and enough cash and materials to start anew out west, John Wesley Smith arrived in Denver. This tall, burley, and enterprising forty-five year-old merchant, unlike most of the arrivals, came with his wife and six of their children.[iii] The trip had been both dangerous and time consuming.  Crossing the prairie in the late spring brought scorching days and bone-chilling nights.  Journalist Henry Villard, traveling around the same time, described the trip from Kansas to Denver as filled with dangers, desperation, and even cannibalism. 

The Smith family, however, came well prepared.  Aside from the essentials, they also brought a small melodeon[iv] to entertain themselves and other travelers on the trip across the lonesome prairie.[v] This little reminder of home cheered them until they arrived in two-year old Denver City.[vi]

The ambitiously nicknamed “Queen City” may have struck the Smiths as dirty and lacking in many amenities. Only two years before Smith and his family arrived in Denver, the site had been inhabited in the winter months by Chief Little Raven’s Southern Arapaho tribe.  However, the lives of the Arapaho changed forever after the summer of 1858.   The William Green Russell party, from Auraria, Georgia, found gold near the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River.  News of the Russell find quickly spread. By November of 1858, the towns of Auraria and Denver had sprung up on opposite sides of Cherry Creek. 

Prospectors were lured to the Rockies by tales of potato-sized gold nuggets and easy fortunes.[vii] Newspapers and city boosters lauded Denver as the “New El Dorado” and promoted the new gold regions as an escape from the poor crop prices and the rise of bankruptcies spurred by real estate speculation and the nation-wide recession of 1857.[viii]

By the end of 1859, around 100 structures and a few-hundred hearty individuals huddled around the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. [ix]  During the next few years, an estimated 100,000 fortune seekers would flood the Colorado gold fields. The aforementioned Henry Villard, noted that Denver “contained a number of one-horse stores, the aggregate would hardly fill a third-class…grocery; one or two abortive hotels whose guests were obliged to repose on the bare ground.”[x] The population was also a hodge-podge of ethnicities and backgrounds. Prospectors mingled with Native Americans from several tribes, Mexicans, French trappers, and Eastern investors.  Unlike many early settlers who arrived with little more than a gold pan, Smith arrived with $20,000 in cash, machinery to establish a flourmill, a lumber mill, and a quartz mill, as well as goods to establish a general store.[xi]   He rented a small cabin on the southeast corner of 16th and Wazee Street and began capitalizing on this land of opportunity.[xii]

Beginnings and Travels

John Wesley Smith was born with a keen eye for business and speculation. He came into this world on September 24, 1815, the firstborn to Jacob Smith and his sixteen year-old wife, Susannah. He arrived a respectable nine-months after they were married by John Hutchinson, Pastor of the Presbyterian Congregation in Mifflintown, Pennsylvania. [xiii] Jacob Smith was presumably a Methodist as he named his son for John Wesley, the founder of that religion. Probably he also was a Democrat as he named his seventh child Andrew Jackson Smith. 

His son John Wesley, who would share his father’s politics, also had a knack for business. By the time he was 33, he had amassed a sizable fortune. Tax records listed John Wesley Smith as a merchant with a dry-goods store and a building worth $5,950.[xiv] Smith grew his family as well as his business.  He married Elizabeth Snyder on January 2, 1838, in Mifflintown, Pennsylvania. Their first child, Mary Margaret, arrived on September 30th of that year. Henry Snyder Smith was not far behind arriving on the 11th of September 1840. On December 30, 1842, the family welcomed Marguaretta G. Smith followed by her sister Martha Jane on October 10, 1845.  Another son, Jacob Miller, made his appearance April 3, 1848, and Laura Willis Smith joined the family on June 4, 1853.  Two years later, on September 10, 1855, Albert Bower Smith was born followed two years later by Charles H. Smith, the last of the Smith children to be born east of the Mississippi.  

In 1857, John Wesley and Elizabeth packed-up their family—-as well as John’s sister Susan Chappel and her family-—for the trip west.  They stopped for several months in Douglas County, Illinois, to stay with John’s mother and siblings.  Then the Smiths pushed on to Lancaster in Atchison County, Kansas. In this small town, about eight miles from Atchison, they settled along with John’s brother James A. Smith and his family, as well as another brother, Jacob Smith, and their sister Elizabeth Galbraith and her family.  

In Kansas, Smith did what he knew best and opened a general store.   He also purchased real estate in Atchison, Jackson, Brown, and Shawnee counties, which he rented to others.[xv] He maintained ownership of most of this property until at least 1880. It would not appear that the Smiths moved to eastern Kansas with the intention of continuing on to Colorado—at least not immediately. The Smiths seemed to be putting down roots with their real estate and business investments.   However, not long after the Smith’s arrived in Lancaster, news from the Pikes Peak goldfields began flooding to the area. John Cantrell, a trader who spent time with the Russell Party as they panned for gold in Cherry Creek in 1858, displayed the sack of pay dirt scraped from the creek to excited crowds in Kansas City, Missouri, in August of 1858.    Traders spread the word of the gold discoveries to other parts of eastern Kansas.   Crowds of people in cities around Smith—Kansas City, Lawrence, Leavenworth, and Omaha—held meetings to hear reports of the gold finds.[xvi] In the midst of all of this, Smith’s family added another child, the appropriately named Anna Kansas Smith, born February 14, 1860. A scant three months after Elizabeth gave birth to Anna, the Smiths again packed their belongings, sold their business, and ventured west to Denver.  

The Queen City

Henry Villard describes the buildings of Denver and Auraria as “half-finished or vacated.  They are, almost without exception, floor, ceiling, windowless”.[xvii] While Villard found Denver and Auraria to be “sorry places” except for the majestic view of the front range of the Rocky Mountains, it proved to be the land of opportunity for a person with John W. Smith’s business skills.[xviii]   Indeed, he probably saw opportunity all around him.   Before arriving, he knew wood had to be delivered from the distant mountains or the Black Forest about 40 miles south of Denver. Food supplies were imported from Missouri or the San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado.  The shortage of supplies and stores, while breathtakingly expensive for most Denverites, must have struck Smith as a golden opportunity. Before leaving Lancaster, Smith purchased the supplies necessary to start and stock businesses. As the Rocky Mountain News would reflect many years later upon Smith’s death: “He did not come to look around and decide what to do. He came to do and brought the material for a town with him.”[xix]

Smith’s First Steps

With the materials and cash he brought from Kansas, Smith opened a general store in his building on the southeast corner of 16th and Wazee Streets with business partner Samuel Leach.   Shrewdly diversifying, he also opened a quartz mill on Left Hand Creek in Boulder County and a sawmill in West Denver along Cherry Creek.  With these first endeavors, Smith soon became one of the most prominent--and richest-- men in the new city. 

Planning to diversify even further, Smith brought with him the materials for building flourmills.  According to Colorado poet and historian Alice Polk Hill, “About the last of October 1859, two heads of wheat were accidently discovered in a garden in Denver. The grain was very large and fine and convinced pioneers that a very superior quality of wheat could be grown in the country.”[xx] If Hill’s account is correct, perhaps John W. Smith had heard about this discovery in Kansas as he brought with him a small, portable steam-powered flourmill.  However, flour was not grown in large enough amounts in the area to occupy a dedicated flourmill.  A reminiscence in the Rocky Mountain News praised Smith’s milling plans as well as his luck.

Of all the fifty thousand people who crossed the plains that year Mr. Smith was the only one who comprehended the possibilities of the arid waste.  In due time after arriving here he placed the mill in the rear of his store…For his mill there was no grain to grind; but Smith was not long in putting it to use.  In that summer a party of Yankees had brought out large quantities of coarse salt with which they intended to domesticate large herds of buffalo.  They intended the salt to coax the brutes, but to their dismay the wild bulls turned in disgust and refused to lick it.  Their scheme being exploded they sold their salt to Mr. Smith for a mere trifle.  He crushed it in his mill and reduced it to a fine table salt and sold it again for a liberal price.[xxi]

A farmer named Parkinson planted a wheat patch “in the river bottoms below the city which are now designated as ‘Poverty Flats.’”[xxii] Another agriculturalist, Mortimer Fisher, planted his small field along Clear Creek.  Both farmers brought their crop to J.W. Smith for milling. However, “This being Smith’s first experience with milling, he neglected to bring with his mill their proper bolts, so farmers Fisher and Parkinson had to eat their first Colorado flour in the bran.”[xxiii]

Once flour began being grown in large amounts, and Smith acquired the proper parts for his mill, he was able to charge “$1.50 per hundred of wheat and ten cents for sewing every sack.”[xxiv] Some of the first flour and corn meal grown in northern Colorado passed through Smith’s mill.[xxv] Farmers could also sell their flour to Smith who maintained his grocery store as well as the Union Bakery at the southwest corner of 16th and Wazee.[xxvi] Smith’s mill, also in West Denver on the corner of Lawrence and 8th street (Champa St.) was soon netting him over one hundred dollars per day.[xxvii]

Smith also innovated within this industry. He built a steam-run mill in West Denver in 1864 that ran on firewood.  Since wood was scarce in the area, each chord sold for $25.00, an enormous cost.  Smith quickly sold this mill a year later and constructed a larger mill that ran on hydropower from the Union Ditch Company’s hydraulic canal.”[xxviii] Smith sold his most famous mill, The Excelsior Flouring Mill, to John K. Mullen in 1878 for $10,000 cash, $8,000 in refined flour, and $15,000 in four-year promissory notes. [xxix] Mullen, in turn, emerged as the flour-milling czar of the Rockies.[xxx]

John W. Smith knew more than one way to mill a fortune. He opened Colorado’s first woolen mill in 1869 with a business partner, John Winterbottom, at 2000 West 8th Avenue in Denver.[xxxi]   The mill manufactured “blankets, cassimere, jeans and other articles of wool”.[xxxii] He sold these goods at his general store, which had become known as the Smith Block. This woolen mill enjoyed moderate success until it was shuttered during the depression of 1873.


Between 1860 and 1867, Smith opened seven quartz mills around Colorado, including sites in Boulder County and in Lake County’s booming California Gulch gold mining district. Quartz mills, also known as stamp mills, crushed gold and silver ore so that the gold could be chemically extracted.  As a natural extension of this investment, Smith began to invest in many mines, including the famous Orphan Boy mine as well as the Range Lode Mine in Park County. He partnered in these ventures with Samuel Cohen, Smith’s son Charles, and promising son-in-law Henry M. Porter. The Orphan Boy mine was located in Mosquito Gulch, a mining district of Park County. A Smith controlled company, the Fairplay Placer Company, owned about four miles of the gulch.   The Orphan Boy mine was estimated to have produced several thousand dollars weekly in 1862 and 1863.[xxxiii] Reportedly, in 1864, a stagecoach carrying gold from the Orphan Boy and J.W. Smith’s stamp mill was robbed by the Reynolds Gang, a group of renegade Confederates, who planned to rob Colorado gold fields in order to finance the Southern war effort.   The gang held up a stagecoach heading for Denver and took “$6,000 worth of gold dust and $2,000 in gold amalgam that John W. Smith was sending East.”[xxxiv] According to legend, Reynolds buried, this, along with tens-of –thousands of dollars more, some where in South Park. That treasure has never been found.[xxxv]

Smith was also helped to ethnically diversify early Colorado.  In 1880, in theLeadville Daily Herald, the Lake County Republicans claimed “ Lake County never had a Chinaman until they were imported by Democrats. John W. Smith, of Denver, was the first one to import a Chinaman into Park County.”[xxxvi] 


The wave of pioneer Argonauts that the Smith family rode to Denver began to wane in the latter part of the 1860s.  Once the Union Pacific railroad selected Cheyenne to be its regional hub many people believed like Thomas Durant, vice president of the Union Pacific, that Denver was “too to dead to bury.”[xxxvii]  However, investors like Smith had constructed too much of a foundation to simply give up on the infant town.  While some business owners cut their losses and headed for Cheyenne, a group of local businessmen banded together to form the Denver Board of Trade in 1867. John W. Smith was elected its first president. The group’s first goal was to organize the Denver Pacific Railway and Telegraph Company.  This company fronted the capital needed to build a railroad from Denver to Cheyenne. In 1868, the Denver Pacific Railway broke ground as a large crowd cheered. Beer kegs were tapped and the crowd sang “The Railroad Gallop.” Townsfolk knew that Denver’s fate rode this railroad. The event attracted, according to The Colorado Tribune, “no less than a thousand persons.” After songs were sung and speeches given, John W. Smith, President of the Board of Trade, shoveled a nine spades of dirt before turning the shovel over to former Territorial Governor William Gilpin.[xxxviii] Two Denver women guided the plow that first broke the tough prairie sod for the roadbed. In June of 1870, Coloradans celebrated completion of the 106-mile rail lifeline. Two months later, the Kansas Pacific Railroad completed its line from Kansas City to Denver.    Thanks to these roads, Denver escaped becoming just another one of the hundreds of ghost towns littering Colorado.

As the saved city came back to life, Smith and others realized the need for further investment in Colorado’s transportation infrastructure. To access the central mountains, Smith joined fellow capitalists such as John Evans, Walter Cheesman, and David Moffat, to raise capital for the Denver, South Park & Pacific Railway. As the name revealed, this line aspired to build along the South Platte River to its headwaters in South Park and then push on to the Pacific coast. Like most of Colorado’s “Pacific” lines, it would never get anywhere close to the coast but would tap Denver’s Rocky Mountain hinterland. The line originated in Denver and stopped at Morrison before puffing up the South Platte River Canyon and over Kenosha Pass into South Park. There the line built the town of Como and ran a branch line over Boreas Pass to Breckenridge. From Breckenridge the road was extended to Dillon and Keystone to tap their mineral wealth. The main line continued from Como through Fairplay then down Trout Creek to the Arkansas River. From Buena Vista on the Arkansas, the DSP&P headed north to the silver city of Leadville. By late 1879, the South Park line attracted the attention of New York tycoon, Jay Gould. 

Gould watched the construction race between the DSP&P and the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad to reach Leadville, the richest silver city in the West during the 1880s. Gould pressured the two companies to sign a deal called the "Joint Operation Agreement" on October 1, 1879. The companies agreed "for the purpose of harmony and mutual profit" that, the Denver and Rio Grande would lay tracks to the north from Buena Vista to the Leadville mining district, but that the DSP&P would share equal traffic rights. Similarly, when DSP&P built into the Gunnison Country via Chalk Creek and the Alpine Tunnel, equal traffic rights were given to the Denver and Rio Grande. 

After working with Gould to build these Colorado lines, Smith was selected in 1884, at the age of 64, to take control of the construction of the California & Nevada Railroad as well as invest in the project.  The company was organized and incorporated on March 25, 1881, to build and equip and operate a three-foot narrow gauge steam railroad and telegraph line.   That narrow gauge road traveled about 250 miles between Emery Station on the East shore of San Francisco Bay, through Berkeley, to Bryant (Orinsa), Walnut Creek and Corral Hollow. It then scaled the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the mining camp of Bodie in Mono County, near the Nevada state line. The project would be Smith’s last railroad project but he approached it with the same enthusiasm and vigor as all of his other projects.

Smith’s reputation preceded him and he was known to his California associates as being “bold and sagacious.”[xxxix] The project was beset with delays.   After the first daily route began on April 1, 1885.  The road opened to great fanfare with the Oakland City band on hand to entertain guests.   However, just a month after opening, the California & Nevada Railroad announced the daily trains would be cut back due to lack of patronage.   However, the company continued to expand its other lines. 

Smith personally witnessed another setback in April of 1887.   He was inspecting the line when the train came to a place where farmers had planted their grain over the track and the “crop stood thickly as it did in the fields”.   The engineer attempted to run the engine into the overgrowth and the train began to gradually slow until it came to a stop.   The rails had become slippery from the juices of the barley and wheat crushed under them.[xl]

Such episodes frustrated Smith. In 1894, he wrote: “I might say that I have been unfortunate in California; perhaps it would have been better for me had I remained in Colorado…nearly $400,000 invested out here and not enough income from it all to support a family!”[xli] Smith sold his shares in the California & Nevada Railroad just weeks before his death, although his estate would officially dispose of the company in a lengthy court case.

Culture Comes to the Queen City

In the early 1860s, before railroading took him to California, Smith did much to build up the city of Denver as well as it railroads. He reckoned that Denver desperately needed a first class hotel if it were to become a respectable city.  He purchased and cleared a site at 16th and Blake Streets of “pioneer era” buildings, formerly owned by Thomas Bayaud, in order to construct the American House. The first incarnation of the structure, a two-story wooden building, was destroyed in the Cherry Creek flood of 1864. Smith rebuilt and opened the second American House in 1868 as Denver’s premier, state-of-the-art hotel. The red brick building featured a decorative metal railing on the 2nd floor balcony.[xlii] It had a “broad, graceful stairway with the carved, spindle banisters and easy treads, carpeted in a rich wine red, walnut furniture, silk upholstery on divans.  The American House boasted plush curtains and plush-bottomed chairs, feather mattresses and metal bathtubs “filled under the direction of M. Washington, the ceremonious Negro head porter, from capacious pitchers of hot and cold water.” [xliii] 

Denver’s new showplace hotel welcomed its first guests as they arrived by stagecoach or covered wagon.  Smith chose his location well for such travelers.  The Bull’s Head Corral and Elephant Corral were both within half a block, allowing emigrants to stable, water and feed, and exchange their livestock.[xliv] Two-legged travelers feasted on the American House’s superb cuisine and sampled its fine wine cellar.  Its spacious dining room did double duty as the première ballroom in Denver City. The bar glittered with imported wines, champagnes, cordials and liquors illuminated by glittering oil lamps and reflectors late into the night. Cyrus Field, renowned for laying the Atlantic Cable, as well as President Ulysses S. Grant, stayed at the American House. Both praised the cuisine which included “prairie chicken smothered to a melting tendered in the copper sautoir; trout meuniere; buffalo tongue; wild turkey, roasted, stuffed with pinon nuts, a bit of sage and other ingredients forming an unforgettably delicious dressing; [and] antelope cutlets.”[xlv]   From the day it opened, the hotel hummed with activity.  Only seventy-two days after opening the first hotel register had to be retired. It listed 4,466 arrivals—62 a day. The next year, it became necessary for Smith to construct an addition adjacent to the hotel.

The Russian Duke at the American House

The American House hosted Denver’s first great social event.  Exactly four hundred invitations were sent out to the élite of Denver and the surrounding area to welcome the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia on January 17,1872.  The Grand Duke, a tall gangly 22 year old, had been hunting buffalo with Buffalo Bill Cody, General Phillip Sheridan, and a group of Indians on the North Platte River, and wished to see the “Wonder City of the West”.  As soon as word got out about the upcoming visit, all of Denver society began preparations and hoped for an invitation.

At the time, the American House served as the gubernatorial mansion for Territorial Governor Edward M. McCook and his wife.[xlvi] To greet the duke, a welcoming party of Colorado notables organized to stage the grand affair.  Former governor John Evans and Denver Mayor Joseph Bates, led the delegation that traveled to Cheyenne to escort the Grand Duke’s Denver Pacific train south to Denver. When the party arrived in the Queen City, an estimated half of the population of 9,000 showed up, despite a slush storm, to welcome the Duke. Years later, the Denver Post would recall:

They cheered Alexis, a truly royal figure with his pearl-colored gloves, great fur coat, and 6 feet 6 inches in height.  His handsome, intellectual, grave face with side-whiskers and Downey mustache, gave no indication of the greeting.  His fur cap was closely drawn over the light gold hair brushed straight back from the forehead. His broad shoulders carried well back, emphasized his military appearance.  The cheering, if somewhat abashed, crowd noticed his enormous hands and feet.  Without a flicker of interest of recognition he entered his waiting carriage.  The entire party was driven to the American House, which was in gala decoration.[xlvii]

Later in the evening, General Philip H. Sheridan arrived with his party, which included Generals George Armstrong Custer and George A. Forsythe. Mrs. McCook, who was suffering from an illness, ignored the advice of her physician to attend the event.  She ordered her nurse to tightly lace her stays and descended the grand staircase to welcome the Duke.  At precisely 9:30 that evening, the festivities began. The Grand Duke, with Mrs. McCook on his arm, led the procession into the ballroom.  Mrs. McCook barely made it into the ballroom when, perhaps a combination of illness and tight stays, caused her to faint.  She was quickly carried back to bed.

This small glitch in the evening did not slow the festivities. Although, it quickly became clear that the bad manners the Grand Duke Alexis displayed upon his arrival was not an isolated incident.  According to The Denver Post, the grand duke found the dances very difficult, “mixed up everybody in the set and continually appealed to his partner, Mrs. Randolph, for assistance.  He also stared outrageously at the girls, trod on their toes, stepped on the long trains which every woman wore and bumped into people.” 

The Duke proclaimed Miss Beusy of Golden “the prettiest girl at the ball”; no doubt maligning the other women he had danced with including Mary Smith, the daughter of John W. Smith. According to the Post, “For years a topic in polite circles was Alexis’ bad manners.”[xlviii]

The hotel continued to be the favorite of Denver society becoming so popular that an addition had to be made shortly after the hotel’s opening. One notable patron was Elizabeth “Baby Doe” McCourt. She moved into the American House for trysts with her paramour, Horace Tabor, who was in the process of moving out of the home he shared with his wife Augusta.  When the Windsor Hotel opened in 1880, Baby Doe moved there and became the topic of gossip and scandal when she married Tabor.[xlix] The American House also provided employment for John W. Smith’s sons.  His son Henry managed the hotel followed by his youngest son Charles.

Inter-Ocean Hotel

Heartened by the success of the American House, Smith expanded his hotel empire and purchased the Inter-Ocean hotel, which sat across the street from the American, in 1876. Barney Ford, Colorado’s most prominent pioneer African-American businessman, built the lavish hotel in 1873. The interior of the four-story brick building sported elegant carpets, black walnut desks and tables, and hot and cold water in every room. The Rocky Mountain News raved: “Amongst the hotels of Colorado, we doubt if any can be found to compare, in point of elegance and taste with the Inter-Ocean.”[l] Perhaps William Newton Byers, the editor of the Rocky Mountain News, had been plied with a free meal or was overly exuberant due to the fact he served on the board of the Dime Savings Bank with Ford. The Inter-Ocean met with setbacks from the very beginning.  A few months after the hotel opened, author Helen Hunt Jackson called the Inter-Ocean “one of the most depressing places I have ever seen.”[li] Many must have agreed with her because the hotel was sold “under the hammer” only three years after its opening.[lii] The following year, John W. Smith bought the Inter-Ocean. Ostensibly, the Inter-Ocean became an extension of the American House as “those rooming in that building [the Inter-Ocean] will take their meals at the American.”[liii] 

By 1882, John W. Smith’s son, Charles, had become the proprietor of the Inter-Ocean and had to defend the hotel’s image not only from unsatisfied customers such as Helen Hunt Jackson but also maligning newspapers.  The Rocky Mountain News ran a notice claiming “Mr. Charles H. Smith, proprietor of the Inter-Ocean hotel, is justly indignant with the blunder of a morning paper which made one of the parties to the Sunday night stabbing, a guest of that hostelry.”[liv] The Inter-Ocean never prospered and by 1885 rented rooms for fifty-cents a night while the American House charged $3.00 a night.[lv]

The Colorado Savings Bank

Between 1872 and 1880, Smith also tried his hand at banking. He opened the Colorado Savings Bank on July 20, 1872, and ran it from offices in the American House. The bank was never insured or incorporated but depositors felt sure of their money’s safety due to Smith’s reputation and personal wealth.  In October of 1870, the R.G. Dun Company, an early commercial rating agency that evolved into Dun & Bradstreet, concluded, “J.W. Smith is engaged in almost all kinds of business, especially mill machinery and real estate. Owns a large hotel, mill, store, and a great many other things. Good for all the checks he writes.“[lvi] In 1874, the firm found Smith’s enterprises to continue to be successful.  They note: “JWS is a sharp, clever, good business mind. Has many irons in the fire but makes them all pay, is good for anything he puts his name to.”[lvii] Smith lived up to this reputation when he closed the bank in January of 1880 when all depositors were fully paid.[lviii]

Gardens on the Prairie

As a leading businessman and influential citizen of Denver, John W. Smith also took an interest in diversifying the economy heavily dependent on mining. He suspected that agriculture would be a key to surviving in a boom and bust extraction economy.  As early as 1865, he undertook to build an irrigation ditch stretching from the South Platte River in Waterton Canyon all the way to what has become Ferril Lake in Denver’s City Park.[lix]   That project had been first undertaken in 1861 by the Capitol Hydraulic Company, which later abandoned it due to poor engineering.[lx] Smith saw the need for such an irrigation project if Denver was to grow. He contracted with the city to complete the project for $10,000 and one-half of the capital stock.[lxi] The canal itself allowed Denver to expand into areas which lacked water.  This proved especially true of Brown’s Bluff (Capitol Hill), an area partially developed by Smith in 1868 when he petitioned the city to annex land he owned.  Coincidently, Smith’s newly constructed ditch flowed near land he owned as well as lots owned by his business partner and future son-in-law, Henry Miller Porter. Smith’s initial estimated cost proved to be low. He poured a total of $40,000 dollars into the project by the time it was completed in May of 1867.[lxii] Smith’s company, The Platte Water Company, received the number one priority right to water out of the South Platte River.[lxiii]

Never one to overlook an opportunity, Smith noticed a natural depression in what is now Washington Park.  He ran the ditch through this area and used the resulting shallow lake to harvest ice, which he stored in a nearby icehouse.[lxiv]   Smith Lake, as this popular boating lake in Washington Park is still called, has since become one of Denver’s favorite post card views. 

With a steady flow from the South Platte and reservoirs such as Smith Lake, Smith’s Ditch relieved the city of its dependence on unreliable private wells, expensive water wagons, and bottled water. Some planners even hoped to use the ditch as a means of transportation with small flat-bottomed boats.[lxv]

Although nothing came of using Smith’s Ditch for anything more than irrigation, his investment was enormously successful. Farmers and homeowners bought shares of water and cut smaller canals off the main ditch to irrigate their land.  Soon, extensions of Smith’s ditch ran from Capitol Hill to Denver’s Central Business District.  Some estimates counted 1,000 miles of lateral branches off the main ditch.[lxvi]

Flora Stevens, an early Denverite who had moved to Kansas City, Missouri, fondly recalled growing up along Smith’s Ditch, “Each owner had his minute ditch running from the ‘Big Ditch.’ Inside the lot father created a network of threads which coursed among the rows of peas, corn, tomatoes and other of the vegetable family.”[lxvii] Stevens wrote as the city was covering in and filling many of these smaller laterals.  She fondly recalled playing in the ditch as a girl and asked readers of the Rocky Mountain News,

“Have you any such cool, gushing, rippling, splashing, wonderful water in Denver today? Are there any briny torrents and little girl Crusoes, and fat, waddling babies rescued from overwhelming destruction today... if not then you have lost something.”[lxviii]

Not everyone had such a rosy opinion of the ditch or of Smith’s management of the water. Historian Louisa Ward Arps profiled the ditch in her work Denver in Slices.  She notes that these lateral ditches:

brought trouble as well as water.  Mothers scolded small boys who waded into them on hot summer days despite the broken glass. The boys loved to . . . divert the streams for private projects not appreciated by property owners further down the street. Drinking water being scarce, some grown people drank the ditch water and swelled the ranks of typhoid patients. This despite the fact that the streams were filled with litter.[lxix]

Owners complained of Smith’s stewardship of the project, the litter in the laterals, as well as the cost of the water itself.  As the city of Denver began to realize how vital Smith’s Ditch was to the growth of the city, it arranged a ninety-nine year lease with Smith and the Platte Water Company.  As part of the agreement, the city would pay the Platte Water Company $2,500 a year and the company would allow the city to cut ice from Smith Lake.[lxx] Although this secured the city’s long-term rights to the lake and the water, Smith still managed the ditch. Ultimately the city was still unhappy with the company’s management of the ditch and in March of 1875 city leaders called for the passage of a $60,000 bond issue. It paid ten percent interest for twenty years in order to buy the ditch. When this issue did not pass, the city approved a lease-to-purchase agreement on May 19, 1875, by a margin of 14 votes.[lxxi] The city assumed control of ditch on May 25, 1875, and renamed it City Ditch.  Smith was completely paid-off seven years later. He pocketed $22,564.14 in interest in addition to the $60,000 purchase price.[lxxii]

By 1882, the Water Commissioner had thirty “water police” to monitor water usage and attempted to ensure the quality of the water. Thirsty people continued to drink the water with disastrous consequences. “If a man drinks that water,” reported The Rocky Mountain News, November 16, 1879, “he imbibes wiggletails. If he drinks whiskey he gets the jim-jams.”

Wiggletails, injuries, drownings, and disease continued to plague the ditch until it was almost completely covered in 1935 with funds supplied by the Denver Water Department and the Works Progress Administration.[lxxiii] However, Smith greened both the city and his own fortunes with this essential artery. After selling Smith’s Ditch in 1875, at a healthy profit, he moved on to his next projects.

Heating the Prairie

Only a few years after selling Smith’s Ditch to Denver, Smith helped establish another water related business.  In December 1879, he and three-business partners incorporated the Denver City Steam Heating Company. Their new company had capital stock of $500,000. Smith was elected the President while his son Charles, was elected secretary.  The company’s purpose was to “sell and provide steam for the heating of stores, dwelling houses, and all buildings in the city of Denver, for motive power, cooking purposes, and to such other purposes as steam may be required.”[lxxiv] The company obtained an exclusive franchise for the city and installed their system.  The first customers received heat on November 3, 1880.  Some claim that the resulting system is the world’s oldest commercial district heating company with many buildings in Denver continuing to use the infrastructure laid by this company.[lxxv] Smith sold his shares in 1883, when he left Denver, but his son-in-law, Henry Porter, and son, Charles Smith, continued to run the business until 1909, when Porter negotiated the sale of the company to The Denver Gas and Electric Company.[lxxvi]

A Family Business

In 1874 Smith’s daughter, Laura, married Henry. M. Porter, a respected colleague of Smith.  According to lore, Porter first met Laura when she was a girl of thirteen. Smitten, he supposedly declared that he would “wait for her to grow up and then marry her.”[lxxvii] Denver historian Jerome Smiley mentioned the match in his History of Denver reminding his readers that Smith was “one of the leaders in many great enterprises for the development of city and state.”[lxxviii] It is clear that Porter was fond of his children: his business letters are peppered with anecdotes regarding the couple’s children.  In 1885, while Smith was in Oakland working on the California & Nevada Railroad, Porter filled him in on the goings-on in Denver. 

Dear Sir,

Your letter of July 27 at hand and found us all well except our baby.   It was taken with summer complaint and went up to Idaho[Springs] where it is cooler and the milk we feed it on better and the baby is getting along all right now.   I was up on Wednesday and Sunday (yesterday) it is cool and pleasant up there, but Laura doesn’t like it so well as at home, because she can’t have as many comforts but she is very patient and willing to stay as long as it is necessary to do so which way be a week. …

Smith’s sons also joined the family businesses.  His son Henry was the proprietor of the American House for a time. That job then fell to the youngest son, Charles, who ultimately took on a majority of his father’s businesses.   Charles had attended a commercial college in Pennsylvania before returning to Denver in 1876.   He worked as a railroad ticket agent before his father began to integrate him into his business affairs in 1879.   Along with running the American House and Inter-Ocean Hotels, Charles worked with his brother-in-law Henry Porter to construct the Charline Apartments in Denver as four luxurious town homes. These elegant red sandstone town homes were subsequently subdivided into apartments. Designed by the prominent Denver architects Ernest P.Varian and Frederick J. Sterner in a chateauesque style, the Charline cost $75,000 to construct. In 1902, Charles Smith had John J. Huddart remodel the Charline in 1902 to, among other things, enclose the front porches and add ornamental ironwork and balconies. According to the Denver Times, Mary 25, 1902, Huddart’s $50,000 remodel also made the Charline “a modern apartment house” and remodeled the stables “for the keeping of electric, steam and gasoline vehicles belonging to the tenants.” The Charline still stands at 1419 - 41 Pennsylvania Street in the Pennsylvania Street Denver Historic District.  Charles also handled his father’s bonds in the California & Nevada Railroad as the elder Smith distributed his possessions when nearing death.

Although Smith must have enjoyed working with his sons and son-in-law, there were a few telltale signs of tension between Charles, Henry Porter, and J.W. Smith.   In a letter to Smith from Porter dated July 18, 1885, Porter expressed some frustration with the family businesses ventures; “I told you in Oakland to write full instructions and I would follow.   You wrote me one thing Charles said you wrote another... When you and he agree about what you want to do and want me to do say so to me and I will do it.   I don’t want here after to be accused of doing wrong by anyone.”[lxxix]

Civic Life

Unlike many of his peers, the relatively humble John W. Smith did not name his buildings, businesses, or landmarks for himself. Except for Smith Ditch and Smith Lake, none of his works commemorated this titan of Denver commerce. Although, Smith was well respected among his peers—he was elected to be the first president of the Board of Trade (now the Chamber of Commerce) in 1867—he is little remembered in Denver today. Compared to other businessmen of his station, he was introverted and subdued in temperament. A 1912 profile of Smith asserted that he “would never talk unless he had something to say, and, he would never overrate anything.”[lxxx]  This is a stark contrast to the likes of boosters such as Horace A. W. Tabor and William N. Byers.

Moreover, Smith was a giver as well as a moneymaker. In 1882, he donated generously to the building of a new chapel for the United Brethren, an American religious sect closely tied to the Methodist Church. The still standing structure at 900 Galapago Street has been landmarked by the City of Denver. Smith was generally remembered as not being a member of any church but gave freely to various denominations.[lxxxi]  According to family lore, the diverse nature of his generosity may have stemmed from his desire to “cover his bases” and please whichever version of God greeted him in the afterlife.[lxxxii] Late in life, Smith adopted certain Christian Science beliefs. His wife, Elizabeth, was on the board of managers for the Denver Ladies Centenary Association, a Methodist organization that was organized raise funds to build a parsonage and chapel to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the founding of American Methodism. John Wesley Smith was also among the founders of the Colorado Seminary—later the University of Denver. He, along with twenty-seven others, became the first trustees of the institution and donated towards its construction. Although the school was organized under the Methodist Episcopal Church, the trustees included a clause stating, “no test of religious faith ever shall be applied as a condition of admission into the Seminary…”[lxxxiii]

From his first years in Denver, Smith took an active interest in his community as well as his business. After being elected President of the Denver Board of Trade in 1867, Smith did much to champion the growth of Denver. Along with promoting the Denver Pacific Railway, the Board of Trade distributed pamphlets designed to attract eastern investment for the Denver area. Smith continued to work for Denver’s growth with the Board of Trade, after 1884 known as the Chamber of Commerce, until he left for California in 1883.

Smith left an indelible stamp of Denver in other ways as well. As he did in Kansas and in Pennsylvania, Smith purchased considerable real estate once his family relocated to Denver.   In addition to his holdings in Downtown Denver, Smith also purchased land on Brown’s Bluff—now known as Capitol Hill.  This tract, known as Smith’s Addition was added to, became part of the City of Denver in 1868.   The subdivision included the land east of Kansas Avenue, now known as Logan, to Canal Street, now known as Washington. Its northern cut off stretched a few lots north of Colfax.   It extended to the south several lots past Olive Street, now known as 13th Avenue. Smith built his own home at 1455 Logan, where his wife Elizabeth, who remained in Denver when Smith went to California, lived until her death in 1900.[lxxxiv] Smith and Henry Porter donated a block of land valued at $53,800 for the building of the capitol.[lxxxv]

Smith, like every businessman who invested in real estate, had to contend with economic fluctuations.   In 1885, Henry Porter, who was maintaining Smith’s real estate holdings in Colorado, wrote to say “Times are dull a good deal of complaint- good many houses, buildings, where they are filled some more will be empty for a while until the country grows.   Very little demand for real estate except about the capitol grounds, and not much there. “.

A Few Stumbles

Although his obituary in the Rocky Mountain News claimed that “All of the ventures proved successful” “ not all of Smith’s investments grew as he would have hoped. [lxxxvi] In his 1901 History of Denver, Jerome Smiley noted that:

Early in 1869, after the success of the Black Hawk smelter had been thoroughly demonstrated, and desiring to make Denver the seat of a similar establishment, the late John W. Smith, a man of much enterprise and public spirit, endeavored to organize a company to build the Denver Smelting & Refining Works, with $50,000 capital.  He designed locating the plant in “West Denver” on land he proposed to donate.  Some progress was made toward organization, but the project was finally abandoned.[lxxxvii] 

Furthermore, in 1877, some of Smith’s businesses failed to produce the outcome he would have hoped and some of his properties were assigned to J.W. Horner, Esq. News of the assignment made it to the Pueblo business community.   The Colorado Weekly Chieftain noted:

Much regret and surprise were expressed yesterday…at the assignment of Mr. John W. Smith.   The news came entirely unheralded, and no one had the least inkling that his affairs were in a disordered condition until the statement was made public…Mr. Smith’s liabilities are not such as would be considered large by most men of his resources.[lxxxviii]

Smith may not have agreed or he simply may have decided not to support those particular efforts any further. The Chieftain noted, “His failure was due to the lack of ready cash and to Mr. Smith’s own anxiety, more than any other cause.”[lxxxix] In the last year of his life, Smith wrote: “Sometimes I have not known where the money was to come from, but it always did come…” [xc]


In 1883, Smith moved to Oakland, California, upon the advice of his doctors.  He had suffered for several years from Bight’s Disease, a historical name for a painful kidney infection, and his physicians believed the lower altitude would help his affliction. A 1912 article in The Trail cites an undated letter from Smith:

I was ill before I left Denver—Bight’s Disease—but few knew of it.  I could not ride in my buggy or in a horse drawn car on account of the belief in pain.  For three years here in Oakland, I “doctored” and what a lot of medicine I took! I drank 150 gallons of mineral water and tried the guessing capabilities of twelve doctors.  On June 6, 1886, I promised never to use any material remedies again.  I then commenced the study of Christian Science and, learning that all so-called ailments of the flesh are only false thoughts and beliefs—illusions—I began to (as we say) get well. [xci]

Smith’s family also had advice for maintaining his health.   Henry Porter advised his father-in-law to avoid frozen foods saying:

Lately I have noticed that most of our kidney troubles come from eating iced things.   Ice Water, Ice Cream and Iced lemonades and--- chill to the stomach and the internals that produce derangement of the whole system. Did you ever think of it? One doctor said he never heard of kidney troubles called Bright’s disease until ice was used.  

Smith credited his management of the disease in part to eating one meal a day and keeping his weight under 200 pounds.  These remedies were effective for over 10 years. Smith died on November 16, 1895, at the age of 80.  His son Charles was with him as he passed away at his home at 408 13th Street in Oakland, California. He was interred three days later in Oakland’s Mountain View Cemetery.

Richard Leach, historian for The Trail wrote that Smith had “keen judgment and untiring energy. He had determination and persistence, qualities which make him a master of men.”[xcii]  Although, modest in his success, the city of Denver and the Rocky Mountain region were forever changed by his contributions.  Leach, added that Smith was:

A man of quick decision, keen judgment and untiring energy, he forged his way to the front very early in life…He was a financer from the cradle; the instinct for making trades was very noticeable in him even in boyhood…In his dealings with others he was honest to a fault, but was keen to detect knavery and fraud.[xciii]

Denver would likely have not been as successful so early if not for the efforts of John W. Smith. Perhaps what is most interesting about Smith that he had so many interests at a given time. Unlike other Denver founders he cannot be easily pegged as a railroad titan, miner, real estate developer, or as a miller, he invested in so many areas of the local economy. While the name of John W. Smith may not be as familiar to Denverites as that of Tabor, Cheesemen, Moffat, or Evans, Smith’s endeavors laid foundations in water, milling, mining, and hotel-keeping, transportation, and resource management that made it possible for Denver to blossom into the Queen City of the Rockies.


*Kathleen M. Barlow is a history graduate student at UC Denver where she edits the Historical Studies Journal. She is the King Fellow at the Center for Colorado and the West at Auraria Library. She works on the Colorado Book Review and oversees the Center’s photo digitization of the Noel Collection in collaboration with the Denver Public Library.


[i] “Emigration”, Rocky Mountain News, June 6,1860.

[ii] “Storm,” Rocky Mountain News, June 6, 1860.

[iii] History of the City of Denver Arapahoe County and Colorado (Chicago: O.L. Baskin & Co (Vickers, W.B.), 1880), 212.

[iv] A melodeon is a small, portable organ.

[v] Ted White. Interview by Kathleen Barlow, December 15, 2009.

[vi] Denver City did not shorten its name until 1865, when it became the territorial capital

[vii] Carl Abbott, Stephen Leonard and Thomas J. Noel, Colorado: A History of the Centennial State (Boulder, CO: University of Colorado Press, 2005), 46.

[viii] Ibid, 47.

[ix] Stephen J. Leonard and Thomas J. Noel, Denver: Mining Camp to Metropolis (Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado, 1991), 10.

[x] Henry Villard “To the Pike’s Peak Country in 1859” Western Voices: 125 Years of Colorado Writing.  ed. Steve Grinstead and Ben Fogelberg (Golden: Fulcrum Publishing, 2004), 7.

[xi] “First Modern Hotel of West, Built in 1868, Being Torn Down,” The Denver Post, 17 December 1933.

[xii] Walt Ruggles “John W. Smith: An Interesting Sketch of a Colorado Pioneer” Leadville Weekly Herald. October 16, 1880.

[xiii] Jacob Smith – Born Between 1788-1791 in Pennsylvania.   Susannah S. Miller born Jan 24, 1799 D. 1863 in Tuscola Douglas Co, Illinois.

[xiv] 1852 – Tax List (the researcher listed the title as ‘1852 List of Tavern Keepers Borough of Newton Hamilton)   Name of Owner of Real Property – John W. Smith 1 acres valued at John W. Smith, owner 1-1/2 acres of seated town lots; and occupied by the following;

Thomas Postlewart ½ lot; David Goldsmith 1 lot, James or Thos Latherow; 1 lot Arcade Building; 1 lot shop; J. Swisher ½ lot; R. C. Craig 1 lot; H. Chapple 1 lot; 1 lot warehouse; 1 lot H. Chapple; John W. Smith, owner 1 lot value at $1050 and 1 lot (store) valued at $1250.   

[xv] Walt Ruggles “John W. Smith: An Interesting Sketch of a Colorado Pioneer” Leadville Weekly Herald. October 16, 1880.

[xvi] Abbott, Carl; Stephen Leonard, Thomas J. Noel. Colorado a History of the Centennial State p 46.

[xvii] Villard, Henry “To the Pike’s Peak Country in 1859” Western Voices: 125 Years of Colorado Writing.  ed. Steve Grinstead and Ben Fogelberg (Golden: Fulcrum Publishing, 2004), 6.

[xviii] Ibid.

[xix] “End of J.W. Smith’s Illness” Rocky Mountain News. November 16, 1895.

[xx] Alice Polk Hill.   Colorado Pioneers in Picture and Story. 1915 p 165-167

[xxi] Dawson’s Scrapbook v52 p 109 Rocky Mountain News 1882

[xxii] Dawson’s Scrapbook v52 p 109 Rocky Mountain News 1882

[xxiii] Dawson’s Scrapbook v52 p 109 Rocky Mountain News 1882

[xxiv] Alice Polk Hill. Colorado Pioneers in Picture and Story. 1915 p 165

[xxv] Jan E. Wagner and Morris Pierce,PhD. Steam on the Frontier, 1880-1995.

[xxvi] 1875 City Directory – Leach and Smith Grocers

[xxvii] Jan E. Wagner and Morris Pierce,PhD “Steam on the Frontier”, 1880-1995.

[xxviii] Jerome Smiley. History of Denver. 1901. P 875

[xxix] William J. Convery. Pride of the Rockies p 55

[xxx] For more information on Mullen see William J. Convery, Pride of the Rockies

[xxxi] Lois Cress Denver Post

[xxxii] Ibid.

[xxxiii] Frank Fossett. Colorado: a historical, descriptive and statistical workon the Rocky Mountain gold and silver mining region. Daily Tribune Steam Printing House, 1878. P 418

[xxxiv] David Cook.  Hands Up: or thirty-five years of detective life in the mountains and on the plains. The W. F. Robinson Printing Co., 1897 p21.

[xxxv] David Cook.  Hands Up: or thirty-five years of detective life in the mountains and on the plains. The W. F. Robinson Printing Co., 1897 p26

[xxxvi] “The Last Word” Leadville Daily Herald. November 2, 1880.

[xxxvii] The story of the first trans-continental railroad: Its projectors, construction and history. W. F. Bailey, Pittsburg, PA: Pittsburg Printing Press,1906. P 118

[xxxviii] “First Colorado Railroad” Colorado Tribune May 19,1868 p1 and Thomas J. Noel, “All Hail the Denver Pacfic: Denver’s First Railroad” The Colorado Magazine,, L/2

(Spring 1973), p. 106.

[xxxix] Erle Hanson. The True Story of the California and Nevada Railroad: Narrow Gauge in the East Bay . p 2

[xl] Erle Hanson. The True Story of the California and Nevada Railroad: Narrow Gauge in the East Bay . p 9

[xli] Richard Leach. “John W. Smith” The Trail.   Vol 4 p 7.

[xlii] Ibid.

[xliii] The First Modern Hotel in the West being Torn Down” Denver Post

[xliv] The First Modern Hotel in the West being Torn Down” Denver Post

[xlv] Ibid.

[xlvi] Edward M. McCook was part of the “fighting McCooks”, a family of Ohioans who reached prominence as officers in the Union Army during the Civil Two brothers, Daniel and John McCook, and thirteen of their sons were actively involved in the army, making the family one of the most prolific in American military history. Six of the McCooks reached the rank of brigadier general or higher. Several family members were killed in action or died from their wounds. Following the war, several others reached high political offices, including governorships and diplomatic posts.

[xlvii] The First Modern Hotel in the West being Torn Down” Denver Post

[xlviii] The First Modern Hotel in the West being Torn Down” Denver Post

[xlix] Sandra Dallas .Cherry Creek Gothic p 85

[l] “Ford’s New Hotel Will be Called the Inter-Ocean” Rocky Mountain News Aug 29, 1873 p4 c1

[li] Sandra Dallas .Cherry Creek Gothic p 85

[lii] Rocky Mountain News.   May 5, 1876 p 4 c1

[liii] Rocky Mountain News. February 17, 1877 p 4 c 1

[liv] Rocky Mountain News. April 5, 1882. P8 c4

[lv] Sandra Dallas .Cherry Creek Gothic p 85 / Rocky Mountain News Sept 1, 1885 p3 c6.   Interestingly, the Inter-Ocean was charging about fifty cents a night when it closed in 1962.

[lvi] R.G. Dun Collection, Baker Library Historical Collections- Harvard University #20713 Oct. 1/70

[lvii] R.G. Dun Collection, Baker Library Historical Collections- Harvard University #20713 Oct. 1/70

[lviii] Wilber Fiske Stone. History of Colorado v.1. p 397

[lix] Firedman, Don “The City Ditch—Its Importance as a Water Facility. Speech given October 27,1977

[lx] Ibid,

[lxi] Ibid.

[lxii] The ditch reached Capitol Hill in 1867.   It was expanded in 1875 when the city acquired the ditch. Melrose, Frances. Rocky Mountain Memories.   Rocky Mountain News. Sunday Feb 26, 1989 p 10-13

[lxiii] Melrose, Frances. Rocky Mountain Memories.   Rocky Mountain News. Sunday Feb 26, 1989 p 10-13

[lxiv] Phil Goodstein. The Ghosts of Washington Park. P 9

[lxv] Phil Goodstein. Haunts of Washington Park p 10

[lxvi] Phil Goodstein. Haunts of Washington Park p 10

[lxvii] Flora Stevens “Wonders of the Ditch Told, Supplying Water to Denver in the Pioneer Days” Rocky Mountain News -7-8-1923

[lxviii] Flora Stevens “Wonders of the Ditch Told, Supplying Water to Denver in the Pioneer Days” Rocky Mountain News -7-8-1923

[lxix] Luoisa Ward Arps. Denver in Slices  p 68

[lxx] Phil Goodstein. Haunts of Washington Park p 10

[lxxi] Phil Goodstein. Haunts of Washington Park p 10

[lxxii] Phil Goodstein. Haunts of Washington Park p 10

[lxxiii] Melrose, Frances. Rocky Mountain Memories.   Rocky Mountain News. Sunday  Feb 26, 1989 p 10-13

[lxxiv] Jan E. Wagner and Morris Pierce, PhD “Steam on the Frontier”, 1880-1995.

[lxxv] Jan E. Wagner and Morris Pierce, PhD “Steam on the Frontier”, 1880-1995.

[lxxvi] Mark Foster. Henry M. Porter: Rocky Mountain Empire Builder. P 108

[lxxvii] Foster, Mark S., Henry M. Porter: Rocky Mountain Empire Builder. (Niwot: University of Colorado Press,1991),53.

[lxxviii] Jerome Smiley. History of Denver 1901. P 872

[lxxix] Porter Papers CHS

[lxxx] The trail 1912

[lxxxi] The trail p 7

[lxxxii] White, Ted.   Interview by Kathleen Barlow

[lxxxiii] Smiley History of Denver Vol 1 p 700

[lxxxiv] Death Notice. Denver Daily News. March 1900

[lxxxv] Block 81 in Denver Colorado Transcript. October 5, 1881. Page 2

[lxxxvi] Rocky Mountain News 11/16/1985

[lxxxvii] Jerome C. Smiley History of Denver 1901. P 551

[lxxxviii] Assignment of J.W. Smith “Colorado Weekly Chieftain” Jan 25, 1877 p 3

[lxxxix] Assignment of J.W. Smith “Colorado Weekly Chieftain” Jan 25, 1877 p 3

[xc] The Trail p 7

[xci] The Trail p 7

[xcii] The Trail p 7

[xciii] The Trail p 7