Early Auraria: The Euro-American Community Prospectors Settle in Auraria

By Elenie Louvaris

Prospectors Settle in Auraria

Auraria--originally a camp frequented by Arapaho Indians---was settled by prospectors where the Cherry Creek and South Platte meet. Prospectors and town builders, such as the Russell brothers, settled in Auraria in 1858 after finding seven ounces of gold in the South Platte. The discovery of gold led to the establishment of Auraria Town Company (ATC). Town founders were given parcels of land by ATC to form the town and later more land was donated to establish churches, sawmills, printing shops, and hotels. 


A modern image of Smedley house restoration.  Courtesy of Aimee Wismar



A depiction of 1860 Auraria, showing the new booming settlement of log cabins, tents, and houses. Courtesy of Jerome Smiley, History of Denver, Rebecca Hunt Collection.


William Smedley, 1020 9th Street

 William Smedley, a Quaker, was the first dentist in Denver and lived at 1020 9th street until late in his life. Smedley's house is the oldest surviving building in the 9th street park and was restored to reflect its original green and white frame from 1872. Smedley's property later became known as Casa Mayan, a restaurant owned by the Gonzalez family. Casa Mayan was a hub of Mexican-American culture. 


An example of other Euro-American busineses in Auraria; Merchants Biscuit Company, located on 9th and Walnut streets. Courtesy of Jerome Smiley, History of Denver, Rebecca Hunt Collection