Healers and Hellraisers


On the afternoon of March 7, 1860, more than 600 residents from the rival settlements of Auraria and Denver City gathered on the north bank of the Platte River. Thin, fast-moving clouds obscured the sun and a fitful wind swept down from the Front Range. The prairie was faded — the color of animal carcasses that littered the overland trail — and made more desolate by bristling tree stumps. The crowd consisted mostly of men; miners with gold-crazed eyes and the long, tangled beards of prophets; saloon keepers and shopkeepers who had shucked their long aprons for the afternoon, and shuffling settlers in buffalo overshoes.

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