There was more than one way to make money in a gold rush, and the Lawrence party set about doing so by laying out Montana City, a site on which they built a few cabins. Not everyone thought this the best site, though, so, after organizing a town company, others laid out another “city”—St. Charles—and set out for home, leaving one member to protect their paper city. Thus did urbanization arrive at the future site of Denver.


At that point the remainder of the Russell party decided to split up. Some went home to get supplies for next year’s prospecting; others went to Fort Garland to obtain winter supplies, and then rejoined the few who had stayed at Cherry Creek. The Cherry Creek numbers were increased by early-arriving rushers and the former residents of Montana City. They eventually called their site Auraria, after the hometown of the Russell brothers, who were telling folks in their hometown, according to the Dahlonaga Signal, that “prospects for gold in that country are quite favorable.”


The Aurarians founded the Auraria City Town Company in late October 1858— a month before the Denver City Town Company formed on November 22, 1858, thus becoming the first permanent community within what is now metro Denver.