"Leadville" Leadville by leafmcgowan

Leadville Travel Guide: 33 reviews and 73 photos


One of Colorado's most famous historical mining towns. It was a town that brought many settlers to the area. It was rich in history and minerals with a colorful history outlining the Wild wild west. The city is a statutory city and county seat in Lake County Colorado. Elevation is 10,152 feet and is the highest incorporated city and second highest municipality in the United States. Originally the area led Gold rushers during the 1860's Pikes Peak Gold Rush near present day Oro bringing miners into the region. With discovery of silver in 1874, It started as a Rocky Mountains mining town for silver off the headwaters of the Arkansas River. Prospectors discovered several silver-lead deposit lodes in the area. Historic figures Horace Austin Warner Tabor and August Meyer founded mines in the area setting off the Colorado Silver Boom by 1880 giving birth to one of the world's largest silver camps hosting over 40,000 inhabitants. By the 19th century it became the 2nd largest city in Colorado after Denver. It was the tromping ground of "Buffalo Bill" Cody's travelling revue and became the resting spot for infamous Texas Jack Omohundro. City became a very dangerous feuding grounds of the Wild West. It was brought under control by legendary lawman Mart Duggan. Home to many swindles where miners sold mines as prosperous when they were dry even though after some were dug deeper only to discover more ores such as in the case with "Chicken Bill" Lovell who dumped a wheelbarrow of silver ore into a barren Chrysolite barren pit he sold to Horace Tabor. By 1882, Oscar Wilde lectured at Leadville's famous Tabor Opera House. Because of this, one of their new lodes was called "The Oscar". The city was then graced by outlaw Doc Holliday in 1883 after the infamous O.K. Corral gunfight. Leadville saw miner strikes from 1896-1897 that led to death, destruction, revolt, and arson. By the 1950's production fell and city abundance dried up with the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1893. A small gold boom hit the area that was later followed by lead and zinc mining. Through its history, Leadville produced over 2.9 million troy ounces of gold, 240 million troy ounces of silver, 1 million short tons of lead, 785,000 short tons of zinc, and 53,000 short tons of copper. During World War II, Leadville came infamous for prostitution, gambling, and entertainment. In the 1980's, the largest remaining prosperous mine "Climax" closed. Much of the local soil and water became deemed contaminated by the EPA scaring many out of the area. Even though it has since been cleaned up, the city shrunk to less than 2700 population by 2005. The town has brought back tourism with hiking, camping, outdoor recreation, and several festivals such as "Boom Days" and "Crystal Carnival". It was the setting for the Unsinkable Molly Brown, The Silver King,Under Siege 2, Silver City, Switchback, and Day of the Dead.

  • Last visit to Leadville: Jul 2010
  • Intro Written Jan 6, 2011
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