Sept. 2, 1904: Coins begin rolling at mint
Michael Madigan, Special to the Rocky
Published December 23, 2008 at 8:51 a.m.
The construction of the U.S. Mint and its dedication
Sept. 1, 1904, added another impressive structure and
nationally significant landmark to the maturing core
of the city of Denver. In the next day's edition,
however, the Rocky didn't seem to treat it with great
regard. There was no mention of it on page 1, and the
ceremony was covered with a stiff headline and brief
story on page 14, the last page of the paper.
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DIRECTOR ROBERTS PRESIDES AT THE DEDICATION OF THE
UNITED STATES MINT
"The new United States mint, located at the corner of
West Colfax avenue and Evans street (now Delaware)
was formally taken possession of by government
officials yesterday morning. Director of the Mint
Roberts, now in Denver on his way to Washington from
Alaska, was master of ceremonies at the dedication.
"The exercises took place on the roof of the new
building. They were simple and brief, and the new
flag which will hereafter fly from the great pole on
the top of the new building was raised by three
veterans of the civil war."
Maybe it was the fact that the mint was another
over-budget, much-delayed government project that
pushed it to the back of the paper, as if to the
back of everyone's minds. The site for the new mint
was bought in 1896 and construction began in 1897.
Before departing the same night on the Union
Pacific, Director of the Mint Roberts prodded
state officials about production:
"If Colorado will settle her strikes and get to
work, the output of the mint will reach
$30,000,000 in gold the first year, besides
$2,000,000 in silver."
Even after its dedication, the minting of coins
didn't swing into full gear for nearly two years
later, when the mint finally began producing gold
double eagles ($20) and eagles ($10) and assorted
denominations of silver coins.
Still the wild frontier
Beginning in 1860, to handle the millions of
dollars in gold and silver pouring into the
city from the mines, the enterprise of Clark,
Gruber & Company pressed gold coins and ingots
in an office at 16th and Market streets. In
1863, that became the United States Assay
Office. But even though the building was
equipped with coining machinery, not a single
coin was ever struck there.
Congress postponed the making of coins in
Denver, citing, according to one official,
" ... the hostility of the Indian tribes
along the routes, doubtless instigated by
rebel emissaries (there being a Civil War)
and bad white men."
Conflict near and far
The day after the mint was dedicated, the
Rocky's front page was taken up almost
entirely by news of the quickly escalating
Russo-Japan War over Korea.
RUSSIAN ARMY IN FULL FLIGHT TOWARD MUKDEN
Beneath the banner headline, the paper ran
side-by-side telegraph accounts of various
battles from both the Russian and Japanese
The only local story on the cover was about a
split in the state Republican party on the
eve of primary elections for city and county
of Denver offices.