While Isabella was making her way to Estes Park, a global economic downturn* was doing the same. The two forces met in early October 1873.
Her host has not yet returned from Denver. Two “campers of suspicious aspect” were sent ahead of him. They were followed by Mr Buchan, “one of our usual inmates.” He brought letters for everyone but Isabella, which was sad. The most important thing he delivered, however, was news.
“The financial panic has spread out West, gathering strength on its way. The Denver banks have suspended business. They refuse to cash their own checks, or to allow their customers to draw a dollar; and would not even give the green-backs for my English gold. Neither Mr Buchan not Evans** could get a cent. Business is suspended, and everybody, however rich, is for the time being poor.”
As if that weren’t enough, the indigenous people*** are burning ranches and killing cattle in the area because the white men killed buffalo on the plains and left them to rot. Colorado Springs is full of fugitive settlers who escaped with their lives and little else.
All of this would cause more problems for Isabella further down the road. Right now, however, she’s waiting for her mail and content in her cabin.
* In the U.S., this was referred to as the “Great Depression” until the 1920s when the world went through an even greater depression. The 1873 edition came about, it appears, because railroads expanded too quickly, which led to banks making riskier loans, which led to defaults, which led to the biggest bank closing, which led to a cascade of banks closing. This uncertainty lasted for years — and seriously derailed Reconstruction because it took the federal governments attention off of goals like stopping the rise of the KKK and of ensuring equal access to the voting booth**** Would we be facing massive race-based inequities now if this financial panic hadn’t happened? Hard to say — and I’m sure a couple hundred dissertations have explored the idea. More here: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/grant-panic/
** her host
*** Isabella doesn’t use the term, mind.
**** for men, mind. Women won’t get the vote until 1920.