Russell’s Pike’s Peak Venture

As one cons the history of Russell and Waddell and the record of their vast undertakings he is impressed again and again by the fact that many of their decisions, especially those made by Russell himself, were premature. The first and most conspicuous example of this was the organization of the Leavenworth & Pike’s Peak Ex-press Co., in the winter of 1858. Russell and John S. Jones, the promoters, invited Alexander Majors to join them in the under-taking, but he declined to do so. The development of the Rocky Mountain country at that time, he said, was such that a line of stage coaches from Leavenworth to Denver would not be a paying proposition. Waddell agreed with him. Jones and Russell dis-regarded their opinion and put the concern into operation at a cost of about $79,000, most of which was borrowed money. Majors & Waddell were right, and by November 1, 1859, the new company was in debt $525,582. Russell, Majors & Waddell took over the bankrupt concern, assumed its debts, and incorporated it in a new, and also premature stage and express company, called the Central Overland California & Pike’s Peak Express Co. David A. Butter-field organized a stage line to Denver six years later with no better success. There were other mistakes in judgment and premature investments, but these suffice to indicate one of the fundamental reasons for their failure.