Leadville Colorado Mining Class June 11-12 revised

Leadville Colorado mining during the Gold and Silver Boom and Bust

The Leadville Colorado class focuses on discovering gold and silver in the areas. The first miners lived in a tent camp near the silver deposits in California Gulch, where “gold” was found in 1860. At that time, Leadville was called “Slabtown.” However, by 1880, Leadville had gas lighting, water mains, 28 miles of streets, five churches, three hospitals, six banks, and a school for 1,100 students. Many buildings constructed with bricks hauled in by wagons sprang up, and businesses filled them rapidly. At its height, it boasted over 30,000 residents.

In this class, we will become acquainted with the town itself and uncover what brought people here. We will learn about the citizens themselves and understand the importance of the area to these people and their significance to the town, Colorado and Internationally. Many of these individuals made essential discoveries, developed technologies, and later embarked on generous philanthropy due to their financial successes. Some were involved in local, State, and Federal government. Finally, some were important for their engineering and architectural accomplishments. These colorful personalities were important to Leadville’s development but expanded beyond that to the present.

We will also learn more about the environment including the geology, geography, and ecology of the area.

June 13, 14 2022- $205 with 1 credit or $150 without credit

Colorado School of Mines Teacher Enhancement Program

Leadville Colorado was once named the wickedest city on earth. As of late, this high-elevation mountain town was recently named in USA TODAY's 2020 10Best Historic Small Town list.

The town was founded in 1877 by mine owners; Horace Tabor, prospector, businessman, and Republican politician, jointly with mining engineer August Meyer. Meyer recognized the value of the area's lead carbonate ores. He built a smelter, developed local infrastructure, and helped organize the new city. These two men were at the heart of the Colorado Silver Boom thus the development of Leadville. The people built Leadville on a flat land area below timberline at an altitude of 10,152 ft., which established its other nicknames of "Two Mile High City" and "City in the Clouds.

The first miners arriving here lived in a tent camp near the silver deposits in California Gulch, where Abe Lee first discovered" gold" in 1860. The area later became Oro City. At that time, Leadville was called "Slabtow," but when the residents petitioned for a post office and chose the name Leadville." By 1880 Tabor and Meyer's new town had gas lighting, water mains, 28 miles (45 km) of streets, five churches, three hospitals, six banks, and a school for 1,100 students. Many businesses sprang up in buildings constructed with bricks hauled in by wagons. At its height, it boasted over 30,000 residents. 

Some of Leadville’s most famous and notorious residents and others who passed through and made their mark included:

  • The “Unsinkable Molly Brown”
  • Horace and Baby Doe Tabor
  • August Meyer
  • Doc Holiday
  • Oscar Wilde
  • Jack Dempsey
  • David May (founder of the May Department Stores and later became Macy’s)
  • Jessie James
  • Wyatt Earp
  • The Guggenheims
  • Charles Boettcher

Another well-known, famous visitor to Leadville was President Ulysses S Grant. He rode the newly-completed Denver and Rio Grande Railroad up to Leadville in 1880, where five bands and a 100-gun salute greeted him. He gave a short speech on a platform erected in front of the Clarendon Hotel built by Tabor. President Grant was wildly popular in Colorado.

Of significance today: We can thank President Grant for the passage of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution. The Amendment gave formerly enslaved people the right to vote. He wrote: "The adoption of the 15th amendment constitutes the most important event that has occurred since the nation came to life" He viewed it as his greatest achievement as President.

Class Itinerary:

Day one

We will meet in Leadville at the Silver Llama @ 615 Harrison Ave Unit B at 8:00 am, where we will give a presentation on Colorado's Mineral Belt and what sparked the gold and silver "Boom" that occurred in Colorado and what eventually caused its "Bust." We will present the day's schedule and take a walking tour through much of the 70 square blocks designated as a National Historic Landmark District. Along the way, we will visit the Tabor Opera House, Horace and Augusta Tabor's home, The Jewish Synagogue; take a look at the Assayer's Office as it remains intact. As we go, we will take note of other important buildings and discover the part they played in Leadville and Colorado mining history.
3 hours contact time

Note: Much of Leadville's downtown—70 square blocks surrounding Harrison Avenue—is designated a National Historic Landmark District of Victorian Architecture. Victorian was a popular style when they built the town. Leadville has an abundance of these original buildings still being used.

In this colorful district, much of the construction was between the 1870s and 1905. A few were built later, replacing buildings lost to fire and other unfortunate consequences. The city walking tour includes the Tabor Opera house, the largest Opera House west of the Mississippi, The Silver Dollar Saloon (not its name at the time), visited by Oscar Wilde, historic churches, a Jewish Synagogue, and many others.

Other places of interest include the Healy House Museum (family home of August Meyer), the Dexter Cabin, The Delaware Hotel, The Silver Dollar Saloon, and The Tabor Opera House. Online maps and information: 


3 hours

11:00-1:00 AM

As the U.S. National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum, A Smithsonian recognized museum. We will see fascinating exhibits ranging from a giant dinosaur track to meteorite, realistic walk-in mine replica, and view incredible mineral specimens. You will be subject to a wealth of information about the minerals found in the area and mining processes developed and used here.


1:00 pm

Lunch on your own: 45 minutes

2:00–4:30 pm

After lunch, we will walk to The Colorado & Southern Railroad Depot. We will take the LC&S train along the old Denver, South Park & Pacific, and the Colorado & Southern lines to the Continental Divide. We will further learn how Mining and Railroads played a massive part in local history.

Along the route, the spectacular views of Freemont Pass, the two tallest peaks in Colorado, Mt. Massive and Mt. Elbert, are incredible.

The conductor will narrate the fascinating history of the railroads, ghost stories, tales of the wild west, and information about this extreme, beautiful environment. 

2 1/2 hours contact time

7 1/2 hours total Day One

On arriving back in Leadville, you can visit other locations earlier than we did not have time.

2 1/2 hours train

7 1/2 hours total Day One

Day Two

8:00-8:45 AM

Meeting again at the Silver Llama at 615 Harrison Ave Unit B Leadville, CO 80461, we will present the day's schedule and re-cap the previous day. There will be a presentation on how the various industries and new technologies developed in the area and how they impacted mining, extraction, mineral processing, and transportation. We will also talk about people who were vital in developing those technologies and how they made lasting and significant marks on Colorado and the United States.

45 minutes contact time

9:00-10:00 AM

We will visit Horace and Baby Doe Tabor's Matchless Mine for a self-guided tour of the site and learn its importance in Leadville History. We will uncover their famous "rags to riches" story and ultimate tragedy.
1 hour contact time

10:00–12:15 am

ROUTE OF THE SILVER KINGS As we follow this 20-square-mile dirt, car-friendly road through the historic mining district surrounding Leadville, we will make several stops along the way. We will take a closer look at large mining operations, power plants, ghost towns, mining camps, smelters. While exploring them, we will note the people associated with them. Marveling at the unbelievable views of the Continental Divide, it's incomprehensible that these hardy men and women were able to take on this difficult feat at Tree Line using early technologies while dealing with harsh elements. We will continue along the Mineral Belt Trail, viewing the early placer mining sites in California Gulch where Abe Lee discovered gold. We will understand the difference between Glacial Valleys and V-shaped valleys, which can help determine where minerals are likely.


2 1/4 hours

12:30-2:30 PM

We will tour the National Fish Hatchery, where they have raised fish to stock the Country's inland waterways for more than 125 years. After 2000, the hatchery began to grow the greenback cutthroat trouColorado'so's endangered state fish and other native species. We will learn about the importance of maintaining the Colorado Waterways and the native fish.
We will also learn proper catch and release procedures.

This afternoon as we tour the National Fish Hatchery we will learn about fish biology and its importance in the Colorado Waterways. We will learn more about how these hatcheries are working to combat endangered fish species. We will enjoy a picnic lunch together, answer questions and give an overview of Twin Lakes and its importance as a hub between Aspen and the East side of the Continental Divide. We will also talk about Twin Lakes as an early resort area for the wealthy of the area during its heyday. We will also learn about proper catch and c

1 hour

11:15-11:40 drive to Twin Lakes 

Lunch  l hour

12:40 We will meet up at Twin Lakes where we will tour the village, described in 1885 "s "the most charming summer mountain resort in Color "do."   There is a general store, hotel, blacksmith shop, and schoolhouse from the mining days, all listed on the National Historic Register.

We will learn about proper catch and release techniques for fishing which help conserve native trout speciThe resource, Colorado's fishing regulations, contains useful tips on how to release a fish and safely remove hooks.oks. If you have a fishing license we can offer a lesson on Fly fishing, and catch and release techniqueswe'ree're lucky! his is considered an environmentally, sustainable sport or activity. owever, If don'ton't have fishing license then we will visit Interlaken Resort. onsideColorado'sdo's most beautiful resort in the late 19th century, today, some of resort'srt's buildings remain standing and are open and free to the public. ost notableDexter'ser's private cabin, which was designed to reflect his nautical interests. he resort can be accessed via boat or a short, easy hiking trail that starts at the southeastern end of the larger lake.

2 1/2 hours

Return to Leadville

3:35 pm We will take a bike ride or walk along part of the Mineral Belt. he trail is 11.6 miles long. he Guggenheims were one of many who made their fortune in Leadville and along this trail you can see the headframe where they struck the motherlode. riginal cribbing and pools from the mining days, and unobstructed viewsColorado'sdo's two highest peaks, Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive are impressive. he route is also accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act. ith numerous trailheads around town to let you choose your distance, the Mineral Belt Trail is perfect for people of all ages and ability levels. lass I and II eBikes are permitted. f you are not up to biking the trail then you can hike or walk a portion of it with one of the class teachers.

Keep in mind the high altitude which will make it more challenging. bring some snacks or food, plenty of water and sunscreen and layered clothing).

Additional information


1 Graduate Credit $205, No Credit $150

no credit

If you are taking the class for no credit the cost is $150


For further questions please contact Danette Ulrich 303 419-3693 or danetteu@gmail.com


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