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Today Leadville, CO is a charming and quaint tourist town for those that travel into the Rockies. But the Leadville, CO of today belies the history that this historic town has to tell.
Originally called "Cloud City" because of it's elevation of 10,152 feet, Leadville, CO is the highest incorporated city in the country. Placer gold mining was started in 1859. Gold was found in 1860 in California Gulch which in turn brought prospectors with gold fever to Leadville, CO by the thousands. In 1877, the silver "mother load" was found on Iron Hill outside Leadville, CO and people like Horace Tabor , his wife Augusta and JJ and Molly Brown made fortunes from both precious metals. In 1880, silver production in Leadville, CO reached $11 million dollars annually and stayed at approximately that level until the Silver Crash of 1893. The city of Leadville, CO was officially incorporated in January of 1878. By 1893, the population of Leadville, CO reached 60,000 people.
The gold and silver that was mined in Leadville, CO had to be transported down the mountain to Buena Vista and from there out on the railroad. The 1st leg was primarily done via Stagecoach. One notorious outlaw that robbed the stagecoaches leaving Leadville, CO in 1879 was Jesse James. Today, you can still see the old Stagecoach road along Highway 24.
Legend has it that the Stagecoach was being consistently robbed even though the schedule of the Stagecoach was never made public. The local sheriff could not figure out how the "outlaws" knew when the Stagecoach was leaving Leadville, CO with the gold and silver. So, the lawmen devised a plan to ambush the outlaws. The sheriff and his men hid along the stagecoach route and jumped the robbers when they attempted their heist. The outlaws were shot dead. When the outlaws mask's were removed, it was discovered that one of the robbers was in fact the wife of one of the lawmen! The outlaws had "insider information" on the the Stagecoach schedules! The wife of the lawman was buried right there beside the stage line route. Today you can still see a marker from Highway 24 that reads:
"My Wife, Jane Kirkham, Died March 7,1879, aged 38 years 3 months 7 days".
Because of the affluence found in Leadville, CO many famous people visited the town, among them Doc Holiday, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, the "Younger Gang", Jesse James, Harry Houdini and John Phillips Sousa.
After the Silver Crash of 1893 decimated the silver mines in Leadville, CO, the re-discovery of gold revitalized mining. It was during this period that the Ibex Mining Company became a standout in the industry by acquiring many of the old mines and reopening them. Lead and zinc started being mined in large quantities as well as manganese and bismuth. This diversification in mining allowed Leadville, CO to maintain a moderately productive level until the time of the Great Depression when low prices and the high cost of production forced the closure of most of the Leadville, CO mining operations.
Molybdenum, affectionately called "Molly" was discovered at the Climax mine 14 miles northeast of Leadville, CO. "Molly" is a necessary alloy in the production of steel and by the 1940's the annual production of "Molly" was over $13 million annually.
Today, Leadvile, CO is a charming and beautiful Victorian town. I highly suggest that if you have the oportunity to visit that you do. You can visit the Tabors Matchless Mine which today is open for tours.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.