Old Prospector Statue
Public Art: Old Prospector Statue
Sculptor: © Alphonse Pelzer
Description: A 12ft high, 490lb handmade copper
statue of a gold miner (1842-1902) holding a chunk of gold in one hand whilst leaning on a pick. It may look
like it has seen better days, but considering it is handmade and over 115 years old, it is holding up.
Location: The Old Prospector statue now resides on
the south side of 15th Street between Araphoe and Curtis Streets, Denver, Colorado, United States.
Original Location: Believe it or not,
the Old Prospector statue was originally atop the 7
story Mining Exchange building from 1891 to c. 1962.
Background: In the late 1880's
Colorado and Denver were experiencing a gold boom of sorts. During this time a group of wealthy gold miners
bought some land in Denver to build the Mining Exchange building (1891) via
funds from subscribers. Many of Denver's prominent citizens, including John Evans (first governor of
Colorado), C.B. Kountze, (prominent banker and founder of the present Colorado National Bank), Henry C. Brown
(built the Brown Palace Hotel) and W.N. Byers ( owner and publisher of the Rocky Mountain News) contributed to
the fund. When the building was completed it housed the Central Savings Bank (later the
Central Bank and Trust Co.), the Colorado Mining Stock Exchange and the
Mining Record, one of the oldest mining weeklies in the United
History: Sculptor Alphose Pelzer was commissioned in
the early 1890's to create a statue for the top of the seven-story Mining Exchange Building, the financial hub of
Denver at the time. Pelzer used Colonel John William Straughn as his model for the 12 foot sculpture.
|The Old Prospector
In 1891, this 12ft high, 490lb. hand made copper statue was erected on the top of the seven storey
Colorado Gold Mining Stock Exchange building, on this site until 1962. The sculptor, Alphonse Pelzer,
modeled this statue after flamboyant and colorful "Colonel" John William Straughn, a civil war veteran,
prospector and wheelwright who lived from 1842-1902.
The statue symbolizes industry, patience and enterprise.