Leadville Mining District

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LEADVILLE MINING DISTRICT, Colorado's longest lived, is located at the headwaters of the Arkansas River. In 1860, gold placers discovered in California Gulch spurred the first rush, but the gold was exhausted by 1865. A much bigger boom followed in the 1870s with the discovery that the local lead carbonate ore was rich in silver. Leadville, incorporated in 1878, became a celebrated silver and smelter city. In 1893, however, the silver crash and subsequent labor troubles ended Leadville's heyday. Molybdenum was the main product in the twentieth century; the giant Climax mine, twelve miles north of Leadville, produced 60 percent of the world's supply by the late 1950s. This era ended when Climax shut down in 1982. It has reopened only for brief periods.


Griswold, Don L., and Jean Harvey Griswold. History of Leadville and Lake County, Colorado: From Mountain Solitude to Metropolis. Denver: Colorado Historical Society, 1996.

Philpott, William. The Lessons of Leadville. Denver: Colorado Historical Society, 1995.


See alsoColorado ; Gold Mines and Mining ; Mining Towns ; Silver Prospecting and Mining .