EASTIN, L[ucian] J[ohnston] (1814-1876), publisher. Caption title: Emigrant's Guide to Pike's Peak. Leavenworth, Kansas Territory: L.J. Eastin, l March 1859.
2o (476 x 329 mm). 8 pages. Bold title in Gothic types, large wood-engraved map entitled "Map of the Gold Mines and Three Prominent Routes Leading Thereto" (288 x 134 mm; 11 3/8 x 5¼ in.), text in five columns to the page, the sheet UNCUT AND UNOPENED AT TOP EDGE, page 4 with large woodcut of cigar-store Indian. (Minor soiling along folds, central fold professionally reinforced in a few places, marginal hole patched, minor spotting.) Enclosed in a protective folding case. Provenance: Denver Public Library, deaccessioned ca 1990, pencilled accession number.
ONE OF ONLY TWO EXTANT COPIES OF THIS EARLY COLORADO GOLD RUSH GUIDE, IN A UNIQUE FORMAT AND WITH AN IMPORTANT MAP OF THE ROUTE TO THE ROCKIES, USED NOWHERE ELSE
L.J. Eastin was the editor and publisher of the Leavenworth Kansas Herald. When the first gold strikes in the Colorado Rockies and along the Platte were announced, and the gold rush commenced, Eastin had the brilliant idea to use his newspaper's press to issue a guide to the gold diggings in the form of a newspaper. This unique format also generated extra revenue from extensive paid advertising. (In fact, paid advertising is a notable feature of almost all the Colorado and California gold-rush guidebooks.) Eastin evidently commissioned a detailed wood-engraved map which he touted as the most accurate of its type. But while the guide evidently enjoyed runaway sales (in excess of 200,000 copies, Eastin asserts) to the would-be-prospecters who flocked to Kansas City and Leavenworth, Eastin's choice of format virtually ensured his ephemeral guide would become exceedingly rare.
In column 1, page 1, Eastin energetically plugs his guide, proudly reporting that "The City Council of Leavenworth, knowing the reliability of the map, subscribed for 20,000 copies." Copies could be had, he notes, at the rate of 10 cents per hundred. He adds, rather facetiously: "It is the cheapest work ever published. The map alone is worth the money." Page 2 features a glowing account of Leavenworth City, Kansas and the Rockies (4 columns), and page 3 prints many first-hand accounts of reports from the Colorado diggings, plus articles headed "The Gold Region--Stirring Scenes," "Reliable Gold News," "Letter from Gen. Larimer," etc. There are numerous advertisements for railroads ("Pike's Peak passengers, take notice..."); boot shops, outfitters (some with prices for each commodity or tool); wholesale grocers, freight steamers on the Missouri, etc. Page 4 is devoted to a detailed discussion of the various routes across the territory to Colorado; page 5 presents more first-hand accounts (some dated December). Page 8 appears to contain the most recent reports, including letters of 14 January 1859, a description of Auraria City, and yet another advertisement for the Emigrant's Guide, this time explaining that the map "gotten up at great expense," was by "two scientific gentlemen--Maj. F. Hawn and O.B. Gunn, whose knowledge of the country and the routes is unquestioned."
The fascinating map clearly shows the three principal route across Kansas Territory to the bonanza in the Rockies, each labeled. This first, labelled "the Northern route via Ft. Kearney," runs from Fort Riley north to the Platte, then west along the South Fork to Fort St. Vrain and the Long's Peak region. The "Route via Smokey Hill Fork" runs westward along the Smoky Hill Fork to Cherry Creek, Denver City and Auraria; 3) the southernmost "Route Via Bent's Fort" follows the Santa Fe Trail along the north side of the Arkansas River via Bent's Old Fort and Bent's New Fort to Pueblo and then Pike's Peak. The map shows a wealth of detail, both around Kansas City and Leavenworth and to the north (Omaha is depicted); considerable care was taken by the mapmakers to show the course of the major rivers and their tributaries (these were sometimes the only landmarks available), and many features in the gold regions.
As Charles Eberstadt observed, the guides to the Pike's Peak gold fields have long been "perhaps the rarest of the several groups of overland guides to the West" ("On Colorado Guidebooks of '59," in Bookman's Holiday, pp. 33-43). For years, only a single copy of this gold rush guide in newssheet format was known to have survived the vicissitudes of the overland trails and the makeshift mining camps. That copy, formerly in the William C. Braislin Collection (sale, Anderson, 21 March 1927, lot 653, $525), was subsequently acquired by the Denver Public Library. Some years ago the present copy, the second extant, was discovered, given to the library and eventually de-accessioned as a duplicate. No other copy of this remarkable gold rush guide is ever likely to come to light. Hafen 6; Wheat Mapping the Transmississippi West 975.