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Vol. 4 - No.09 September, 2022 Nooseletter Home SUBMIT AN ARTICLE
Chronicle of the Old West
Dakota Livesay | Old West Historian
We've all played the telephone game where a message is whispered in the next person's ear, and then been amazed when a completely different message is returned to us. Something similar happened in Denver back in 1880.


Continued.... (see below)
Hop Valley Riot
As the West entered into the 1880’s there was a tremendous amount of prejudice against the Chinese who had been brought to the West to build the railroad. Ten years earlier Denver, Colorado had encouraged the Chinese to come there in the hopes of relieving the labor shortage conditions.

Although by 1880 there were less than 300 predominately male Chinese in Denver, The Rocky Mountain News maintained that because of their ever growing numbers, “white men would starve and women would be forced into prostitution.”

Because of the access to drugs in the Chinese district, cowboys would often visit there. The main area of this district was appropriately called “Hop Alley.”

On the evening of October 30, 1880 some drunken cowboys assaulted a Chinese. Another Chinese man in the process of defending his friend fired a shot from his gun, hitting no one. But, like that “telephone game” you played as a kid, it was no time before the story had mutated to “a Hop Alley resident had killed a white man.”

Mobs gathered. Windows were shattered, and many queues were clipped from Chinese heads. One group lynched an elderly man. Unfortunately, no one was held accountable for the tragedies.

However, as with all tragedies, there were bright spots of heroism. Desperado Jim Moon was in a Chinese laundry retrieving some shirts when a mob came in with the objective of lynching the owner of the laundry. Pulling his pistol, Moon yelled at the crowd, “If you kill Wong, who will do my laundry?”

Moon was credited with not only saving Wong, but also an additional 14 other Chinese hiding in the back.
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