Our joy knew no bounds, we huzzaed, whooped and yelled at the prospect of being loaded with gold in a few months, and gave vent to any amount of hisses and groans for our apostate companions that were making all speed for home. We congratulated ourselves, sir, that we inaugurated a new era in the history of our beloved country.1 At this point, the “Paul Revere” of the story arrived at the camp.
While at Fort Laramie, trader John Cantrell had heard about men prospecting on the South Platte and decided to visit them on his way home to Westport, Missouri. Arriving on July 31, he stayed for a few days, secured some gold dust, and started home. By late July, even before Cantrell reached home, rumors of gold discoveries reached newspaper offices along the Missouri, traveling via that mysterious mountain “telegraph.”
Both Leavenworth, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, papers printed highly exaggerated stories based on reports “direct from the mountains.” The former claimed that 500 miners were making, on the average, $12 per day.2 The latter cut that figure to 150 miners making $8 to $10 per day. Considering the times, both stories must have caught readers’ attention. The Journal of Commerce could not restrain itself: “The gold discoveries are creating great excitement in the mountains.”