During the fabulous reign of Colorado Silver, innumerable prospectors passed by Pike’s Peak on their way to the silver strikes at Leadville, Aspen, and the boom camps in the Saguache, Sangre de Cristo, and San Juan mountain. Then, in 1890, a carpenter named Winfield Scott Stratton discovered gold along Cripple Creek. By 1900, this six square mile area on the south slope of Pike’s Peak supported 475 mines and led the world in gold production. Against this backdrop of frenzied mining and gold fever, Pike’s Peak tells the story of Joseph Rogier, a man who seeks and finds his fortune in Colorado, and then loses everything in pursuit of something more important.
Arriving in Colorado Springs in the 1870s, Rogier becomes a successful contractor and builder and helps to raise a little mountain town into the Saratoga of the west. He rears a large family and scoffs at the “alfalfa miners” chasing silver strikes everywhere. But with the discovery of gold at nearby Cripple Creek, Rogier is shaken and methodically squanders his prosperous business and all his property attempting to reach the “great gold heart” of Pike’s Peak.
Waters’ is a psychologically modern novel whose universal theme is expressed on the grand scale of the opening of a territory. It is both a marvelously colorful and detailed account of the days when Colorado boomed and Denver became a big town, and an allegory of one man's furious pursuit of the truth within himself.