By Frank Waters
“…An eloquent, impressive job, an old-fashioned kind of novel about real people, without gimmicks or false dramatics, and with a great deal of fascinating mining lore.”
During the fabulous reign of Colorado Silver, innumerable prospectors passed by Pike’s Peak on their way to the silver strikes at Leadville, Aspen, and the boom camps in the Saguache, Sangre de Cristo, and San Juan mountains. Then, in 1890, a carpenter named Winfield Scott Stratton discovered gold along Cripple Creek. By 1900, this six square mile area on the south slope of Pike’s Peak supported 475 mines and led the world in gold production. Against this backdrop of frenzied mining and gold fever, Pike’s Peak tells the story of Joseph Rogier, a man who seeks and finds his fortune in Colorado, and then loses everything in pursuit of something more important.
Arriving in Colorado Springs in the 1870s, Rogier becomes a successful contractor and builder and helps to raise a little mountain town into the Saratoga of the west. He rears a large family and scoffs at the “alfalfa miners” chasing silver strikes everywhere. But with the discovery of gold at nearby Cripple Creek, Rogier is shaken and methodically squanders his prosperous business and all his property attempting to reach the “great gold heart” of Pike’s Peak.
Waters’ is a psychologically modern novel whose universal theme is expressed on the grand scale of the opening of a territory. It is both a marvelously colorful and detailed account of the days when Colorado boomed and Denver became a big town, and an allegory of one man’s furious pursuit of the truth within himself.
Frank Waters (1902–1995), one of the finest chroniclers of the American Southwest, wrote twenty-eight works of fiction and nonfiction. More info →
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At 14,110 feet, the weather station atop Pikes Peak, Colorado, was the highest in the world in 1873. Young men trained by the Signal Corps took turns living year-round on the isolated mountain, where they endured loneliness, primitive living conditions, lack of financial support and appreciation, and deteriorating health. Most did so with dedication and good humor.
This reprint makes available again Frank Waters’ dramatic and colorful 1937 biography of Winfield Scott Stratton, the man who struck it rich at the foot of Pike’s Peak and turned Cripple Creek into the greatest gold camp on earth.
In Below Grass Roots, the second book in Frank Waters’s Pikes Peak saga, turn-of-the-century Colorado Springs is prospering with the mining boom and a growing tourist industry. Patriarch Joseph Rogier becomes ever more obsessed with the treasures of the towering mountain and tries to enlist his son-in-law Jonathan Cable in his mining schemes. Cable instead leaves for Navajo country with his young son.