Date of this Version
One not acquainted with the early history of this commonwealth may be startled, while looking through a file of newspapers handed down from the fifties, to see the headline, "Discovery of Gold in Nebraska." The explanation is that Pike's Peak itself was once included within the generous limits of this territory. By the act of congress, which brought into existence Kansas and Nebraska, the twin children of Douglas' ambition to do something spectacular in national politics, the boundaries of the latter territory were described as extending from the northern boundary of Kansas to the southern boundary of the British Possessions, and from the Missouri river and the western boundary of Minnesota on one side to the summit of the Rocky mountains on the other. This vast tract contained about 351,558 square miles of land, and at one time over 15,000 square miles on the western slope of the Rockies was added. In the early days the counties were marked out on the same magnificent scale. Though along the Missouri river they were soon reduced to a more manageable size, yet farther to the west they were for a long time planned with such dimensions as it was natural for men to give, who half doubted if away from the Missouri bottoms the land would ever be worth ten cents a township.