"There has been but one Leadville.
Never will there be an other."
quote from Olden Times
in Colorado aptly describes this grand and
glorious city from the past which continues to
awe visitors with its magical appeal.
Leadville, Colorado by
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often called "The Two Mile High City" and "Cloud City,"
was the highest
incorporated city in the United States at 10,430 feet. However, that title has
now been replaced by Alma,
(highest incorporated municipality). Located at the
foot of two of
highest peaks - Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive, Leadville is one of
America's last remaining authentic mining towns.
Self-described as quaint and absolutely original, Leadville has been
designated as a National Historic Landmark District. The small
city is comprised of seventy square blocks of Victorian architecture
and is adjoined by the twenty square mile Leadville mining district,
where many old mines and cabins dot the landscape.
in the area began in 1859, when gold was discovered
California Gulch. In 1860,
Horace and Augusta Tabor
arrived in the Gulch, where Horace
tried his luck at placer mining, and Augusta
became the camp provisioner, acting as cook, laundress, banker and
postmistress. By 1861, over 5,000 prospectors were swarming the
area and the settlement of Oro City was established. The Tabors
followed in the miners wake for several years, moving from one mining
camp to another, but, finally returned to Oro City in 1868 and reopened
But, the placer deposits quickly played out and
even though the Printer Boy Mine successfully opened in 1868, Oro City
was almost deserted by the 1870's. Most of the miners quickly
left to follow gold discoveries in
Buckskin Joe, Payne's Bar, which is now Idaho Springs, and other mining camps on the eastern
slopes of the Continental Divide.
However, in 1875 a metallurgist named
Alvinius Woods and his partner William Stevens discovered that the
local sands which had made sluicing gold so difficult were composed of
carbonate of lead with an extremely high silver content. They were
able to keep their secret for and quietly began to buy up many of the
abandoned gold claims in the area.
Nevertheless, when Woods sold his interest
in the partnership for $40,000, the word was out, leading to a second
boom in the area. Thousands of prospectors again flooded the gulch which, eventually led to
the founding of Leadville. In January 1878, the city of Leadville
was incorporated and by 1879, the population had reached 18,000. In
the summer of 1878, Horace Tabor struck it rich after grubstaking two miners on a small claim. Quickly he became the alleged Silver King of Leadville.