Denver, Colorado was the largest settlement in the west in the mid-1800's, and also over two hundred miles from the nearest post office at Fort Laramie. The Leavenworth and Pike's Peak Express was one of the first to establish a mail route directly to Denver. They followed the Smoky Hill route from Leavenworth, Kansas but soon expenses of the operation overbalanced the receipts, and the route was sold to Russell, Majors, and Waddell. Even though there was a campaign among the residents in towns along the Smoky Hill route to keep the mail coming their way, it was soon abandoned for the more favored Platte River route.
Denver, in 1863, claimed a population of over five thousand people. In addition to the many gambling houses, there was also four churches, a school, five brick stores, the US Mint, two banks, two theaters, and three daily newspapers. Holladay chose the Planter's Hotel for his stage office, but later moved it to a more substantial brick building.
The great flood in Cherry Creek, in May 1864, was devastating to Denver. Hundreds of people lost property. Among these losses were the city hall with all its records; the Rocky Mountain News building was totally destroyed, not a single item was ever found, including all the presses; the adobe built Methodist Church, its foundation unfortunately in the dry sandy creek bed, and not upon solid rock as Scripture dictated, melted and was washed away like sand. By late in the year of 1864, prices of goods and supplies in and around Denver skyrocketed.
Holladay's second building built in 1866, still stands at 15th and Market streets in the historic Larimer Square district.
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