Letters from William Lake to the Clinton Age 1892

August 9th, 1892
And the Rockies as seen by
Two Clintonians-Clinton People in the Queen City – Etc.

Denver, Colo., Aug. 9th. Editor Age:-Perhaps your readers would be interested to know how the Clinton people are enjoying themselves in Denver. The trip was a pleasant one, despite the heat and dust. Our engine became disabled Sunday afternoon and the section in our rear pushed us into Columbus, Neb., where it's engine was transferred to our section and we proceeded on our way, arriving here Monday at 11:30 a.m. As far as we can learn the Clinton people secured good accommodations. Monday afternoon we spent in sightseeing, partly in the sunshine and partly in the rain. The city is in gala attire and is handsomely decorated in all the Masonic colors and emblems interspersed with national colors.

Some of the buildings are handsomely and gracefully draped and festooned in china silk. Merchants vie with each other in their display of elegant good and attractive windows. Everywhere are conspicuous the Masonic emblems both indoors and out. Hither and thither are passing sir knights and ladies, their breasts covered with gay and glittering badges.

Everybody is good natured and everybody is welcome. The greetings displayed in various decorations both ??lawns, electrical display and on buildings are ??ue. Notwithstanding the tens of thousands pouring in. Denver is equal to the occasion, and is taking care of them and furnishing entertainment and amusement in a complimentary manner. Last night occurred the grand illumination. The principal streets are spanned by mammoth arches bearing words and Masonic emblems beautifully wrought in various colors by electric lights. The most elaborate decorations are at the Intersection of Welton and Sixteenth streets. From each of the four corners rises a slender tower forty feet high and crowned with turrets, the towers are spanned by mammoth arches which are covered in designs and tiny globes of light. The effect is that of being adorned with all manner of precious stones. Here suspended from an arch is a large Maltese cross in black outlined with diamonds and set with garnets and gold. Here is suspended a magnificent red cross inlaid with jewels, there the cross and crown of light sparkling with gems. At each corner a star inlaid with a cross of rubies. Yonder is a life-sized picture of a knight clad in armor and mounted on ??steel, it is framed in pearls. Now look to the north and then to the south, as far as the eye can see, behold an archway of light down the long visas. Red, yellow and green are alternating colors, as are also purple and gold. They are strung by lavish hand and beads of pearls at frequent intervals – myriads of strands- over the street until it is canopied in light. Now look to the east and then to the west and the view repeats itself, while on every hand are the brilliant incandescents and above all the great search lights casting forth their beams of radiance in the far, far distance. The streets are full, the cars crowded, the air filled with music, and the bands are marching everywhere. The multitudes surge hither and yon. Free amusements are here and there. The operas turn thousands away. In the Trinity M. E church-one of the largest and handsomest in America-is given three evenings this week in honor of the knights conclave free grand pipe organ concerts, by Prof. Pfeferkorn. There is no lack of amusements, or people to attend them. All are glad they came and Denver receives them graciously with an outstretched hand of welcome.

Mrs. J. S. Lowell

Denver, Col, August 11, 1892

Editor of the Clinton Age: We left Clinton on Saturday night at 10:30 and arrived at Denver at 11.30a.m. Monday. I was really surprised to find Denver so fine a city. Magnificent brick and stone buildings and streets paved with asphalt and stone; electric and cable street care lines and with it's smelters and factories Denver has taken a front rank among American cities. The citizens gave the knights templar a royal welcome. All the buildings were beautifully decorated and the business streets have all been beautifully illuminated with electric lights of different colors arranged in Arches, cross and Crown, keystone and various devices together with the courthouse, which is most beautifully illuminated of all. The illumination has continued on every night so far, and I am sure the Denver have done their best to Atizer?es us. They must have expended thousands of Dollars. The concourse of people here was immense. The city was crowded. There must have been 30,000 Knights here, in uniform. I am sorry to say, less than 20,000 took party in the parade. Myself and John Hart were all who took part in the parade from Clinton. I was on drill and on the march from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and I did not feel at all fatigued. I visited the Grant smelting works in company with John Alfred, a prominent Clintonian, and was surprised to find one of the proprietors and general managers, Mr. James, was a fellow countryman, having been born within six miles of my birthplace. I knew his father and all his family well. They said they were going to enlarge their works to double their present capacity.

Denver has a great future before it and will undoubtedly become a very large city. The mineral resources of the country tributary to it are so great. I think the railway managers and employees are entitled to great credit for the careful movement of so immense a number of people with so few accidents over their lines which were taxed to their utmost capacity and I am sure the railway companies of Colorado have been very accommodating in their efforts to please the visitors to Denver. I should like to spend two or three months in these mountains, but unfortunately for me, the state of my finances will not permit it, so I have to turn my face homeward. I went to Silver Plume, up in the mountains today, and I traveled over forty miles of the crookedest railroad I ever saw. It seemed as if the engine was bound to run into the tail end of it's train. I do not think there is one hundred yards of straight track in 40 miles and it's uphill too, 170 feet to the mile, through a narrow gorge with a rapid brook running through it in some places not over 30 feet wide with rocky walls in each side 500-600 feet and mountains thousands of feet above that, and mines upon the sides of the mountains where you would think a man could not stand so steep are they. While viewing these majestic mountains in all their silent grandeur my soul was filled with reverential awe towards the great Creator.

"Who lifteth up the mountains at His will.
Any by his word the raging seas can still."

Yours truly,
Wm. Lake

Denver, Colorado, Aug 14, 1892

Editor of the Clinton Age.
Dear Sir: Since writing you before, I have been to Colorado Springs and Manitou. I went down the Denver & Fort Worth railroad- a crooked road. In going thirty-eight miles you make an ascent of 1800 feet. There are three horse shoe curves on this road in going 100 miles. One place the track runs around a curve of five or six miles to make one mile of the journey. The country along the line would be just as good as Iowa if it only had rain or cold be irrigated. There are some valleys on this route that are as fertile as the valley of the Nile, while the high land on each side was almost as barren as the deserts of Egypt, and it never will be any different unless the Almighty changes the climate so as to give abundant rains. The soil is so rich in some places that although not an inch of rain has fallen this summer and the land was not irrigated, I saw some fine crops of potatoes – twenty- five acres in one field- and I also saw corn from three to four feet high with ears on the stalks, that have had no irrigation. But what astonished me most of all was to see the horses and cattle in such good condition. I visited a day at the ranch at Eastonville and the owner of the ranch had 7,000 sheep and 800 cattle and several horses. His cattle were all really fat and his horses too, and they got no grain or corn-nothing but the grass. You would think to look at the pastures that cattle would starve on them. There is a wonderful amount of nutrition in the grass here that I cannot account for it. I went to Manitou and down to one of the soda springs, iron springs and Sulphur springs, but the soda spring I think the most wonderful of all here. You have soda water better than you can buy, already sweetened, springing up from the bowels of the earth. Yu can take flavoring extracts with you and have any kind of soda water you desire. There is not much comfort in going with such an immense excursion as this. It was a crush and private houses were all filled at Manitou and everywhere else. I got lodging on a cot in the dinning room of a private-house by paying $1.00 for it for the night. There was about a hundred who could not get lodging at any price so they spent the night walking up to Pikes Peak. I met them coming down in the morning tired and weary. I went to the Pike's Peak railroad office to try to get a ticket and found about 300 inline to purchase tickets at $8.75 each for the trip and the railroad could only take 180, so I saw it was no use to buy them. I went to my lodging. The next morning I got up about 5 o'clock and although I woke up with the mountain fever yet I started for the Pikes Peak railroad but to my great disappointment I found fully 200 persons in line waiting to purchase tickets, a great part of whom had been there before 4 o'clock in the morning. I then started to walk up the track to the Peak and got up about 3 miles ascending 100 feet to the mile, when owing to the fever, I had to give it up and return and as my finances were short I had to return to Denver. As you may want to know what the mountain fever is I will say it is just like the ague only you don't have any chills. I like this mountain country and would like to linger here if I could afford it. Every mountaineer loves the mountains and I love my old mountain home although the Welsh mountains are but pigmies to these. I hope to be home soon.

Au revoir, William Lake