Unlikely Roommates

By Sally Boelens

Rocky Mountain News Article Backgrouns

The original Rocky Mountain News and Uncle Dick Wootton’s rowdy "Western Saloon" once shared a building along Ferry Street, known today as 11th Street (if it continued through campus). It was a dangerous time to work for the Rocky Mountain News as customers below would shoot their pistols into the ceiling, just nearly missing the staff. The Rocky Mountain News Photo of the original Rocky Mountain News building. Photo courtesy of the Denver Public Library Western History and Genealogy Department. On April 23, 1859, Rocky Mountain News published their very first newspaper out of the attic of Uncle Dick Wooten’s saloon that once stood right on the present day athletic fields. The newspaper’s founders William Newton Byers, Thomas Gibson and John L. Dailey decided on the name Rocky Mountain News because they didn’t know which town they were going to settle in and wanted it to appeal to a larger audience. They chose the location because it had plank floors and glass windows, which was a rarity for the time. A different office location was chosen after the early Platte River flood destroyed the structure. More recently, the Rocky Mountain News closed its doors in 2008, just shy of its 150th birthday, but you can still witness one of the pages of the very first issue in the Denver Public Library.


Richens Lacy "Uncle Dick" Wootton

Photo of Uncle Wootton

Although pictures of Uncle Dick Wootton's saloon did not survive, this illustrates what a saloon of the time period would have looked like.

Self-portrait of Uncle Wootton

Portrait of Uncle Dick Wootton Portrait of Richens "Uncle Dick" Wootton. Photo courtesy of Colorado Virtual Library: A Service of the Colorado State Library.











Richens Lacy “Uncle Dick” Wootton stopped in Denver in 1858.  He came from Taos, New Mexico to the Denver to do some business. During his stop, he opened two barrels of “Taos Lightning” whiskey and openly shared it with the locals, for free! Legend says that by that very evening, he earned the name “Uncle Dick” for his generosity and became a favored friend among the locals. They urged him to stay so that he did. He opened up a  general store that was better known as the once popular and rowdy  “Western Saloon” of the late 1850s and early 1860s. ​