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The city's fortunes declined with the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in , although afterwards there was another small gold boom. Mining companies came to rely increasingly on income from the lead and zinc. The district is credited with producing over 2. A bitter strike by Leadville's hard rock miners in —97 led to bloodshed, at least five deaths, and the burning of the Coronado Mine. In a letter to a London business contact, mine owner Eben Smith wrote, "The strikers got the worst of it in the raid on the Coronado and Emmet [mines], there were 10 or 12 killed; we do not know how many, and a great number wounded; they take care of their wounded the same as the Indians but every now and then a fellow turns up that the rats have been eating or who has gone to decay that we know must have been shot World War II caused an increase in the demand for molybdenum , used to harden steel.

It was mined at the nearby Climax mine , which at one time produced 75 percent of the world's output. By the Climax Mine was the largest underground mine in the world. Taxes paid by the mine provided Leadville with good schools and libraries, and provided employment for many residents. When the market dropped in , Leadville's economy suffered and many people lost their jobs.

With little industry other than the tourist trade, most of the former miners left and the standard of living declined. Climax reopened in and started production in It currently is the most efficient mine producing the metal in Colorado and is estimated to have a production life of thirty years. The many years of mining left behind substantial contamination of the soil and water and the Environmental Protection Agency designated some former mines as Superfund sites, such as California Gulch.

Pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children are still encouraged to have their blood-lead levels checked.

Leadville, Colorado

As the population boomed, by Leadville had the reputation as one of the most lawless towns in the West. Fearing the town would be lost to the lawless element, Mayor Horace Tabor sent for Mart Duggan , who was living in Denver, as a replacement. Duggan is little-known today, but was well known at the time as a fearless gunfighter. Using strong-arm and lawless tactics, during his two stints as marshal Duggan brought order to Leadville by when he stepped down.

He was shot and killed in by an unknown assailant, most likely an enemy he had made when he was a Leadville marshal. Historian Robert Dearment writes, "Mart Duggan was a quick-shooting, hard-drinking, brawling tough Irish man, but he was exactly the kind of man a tough, hard-drinking, quick-shooting camp like Leadville needed in its earliest days.

His name is all but forgotten today, but the name ' Matt Dillon ' is recognized around the world. Such are the vagaries of life. Alice Ivers, better known as Poker Alice , was a card player and dealer of the Old West who learned her trade in Leadville.

Born in Devonshire , her family moved to America when she was a small girl. They first settled in Virginia , where she attended an elite girls' boarding school. When she was a teenager, her family moved to Leadville when the silver boom drew hundreds of new residents to the area. At the age of twenty she married a mining engineer who, like many of the men at that time, frequented the numerous gambling halls in Leadville.

Alice went along, at first just observing, but eventually she began to sit in on the games as well. After a few years of marriage her husband was killed in a mining accident and she turned to cards to support herself.


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Alice was attractive, dressed in the latest fashions, and was in great demand as a dealer. Eventually Alice left Leadville to travel the gambling circuit, as was common of the male gamblers of that time. She continued to dress in the latest fashions but took to smoking cigars. Well known throughout the West, gambling halls welcomed her because she was good for business. Texas Jack Omohundro , Confederate scout, cowboy and stage actor with "Buffalo Bill" Cody's travelling revue, died of pneumonia a month before his 34th birthday in summer in Leadville where he was living on a small estate with his wife, ballerina Giuseppina Morlacchi.

Around , shortly after the gun fight at the O. Corral , Doc Holliday moved to Leadville where he dealt faro. Despite overwhelming evidence implicating him, a jury found Holliday not guilty of the shooting or attempted murder. Gunfighter and professional gambler Luke Short also spent time in Leadville. In she married a mining engineer who was twelve years older, James J.

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The Brown family acquired great wealth in when Brown was instrumental in the discovery of a substantial gold ore seam at the Little Jonny Mine. The mine was owned by his employers, the Ibex Mining Company. A Broadway musical based on her life was produced, along with a film adaptation of the musical, both titled The Unsinkable Molly Brown.


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Meyer Guggenheim of the Guggenheim family started out in Leadville in mining and smelting. The family went on to possess one of the largest fortunes in the world. Family members have become known for their philanthropy in diverse areas such as modern art and aviation, including several Guggenheim Museums.

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The reviews were mixed, and the press satirized Wilde in cartoons as an English dandy decorated with sunflowers and lilies , the floral emblems of the Aesthetic Movement. A Kansas newspaper described the event:. Oscar Wilde's visit to Leadville excited a great deal of interest and curiosity. The Tabor-opera house where he lectured was packed full. It was rumored that an attempt would be made by a number of young men to ridicule him by coming to the lecture in exaggerated costume with enormous sunflowers and lilies and to introduce a number of characters in the costume of the Western "bad men".

Probably, however, better council prevailed and no disturbance took place. Mayor David H. Wilde later recounted a visit to a local saloon, "where I saw the only rational method of art criticism I have ever come across. Over the piano was printed a notice — 'Please do not shoot the pianist. He is doing his best. The town has made major efforts to improve its economy by encouraging tourism and emphasizing its history and opportunities for outdoor recreation.

The town's altitude and rugged terrain contributes to a number of challenging racing events, such as the Leadville Trail series of races. It is often used as a base for altitude training and hosts a number of other events for runners and mountain bicyclists. Leadville has the highest elevation of any city in the United States. Leadville lies in a valley at the headwaters of the Arkansas River which flows through the southern Rocky Mountains and eventually empties into the Mississippi River. Mount Massive , Turquoise Lake lies on the western outskirts of Leadville.

Turquoise Lake is a feature of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project. According to the U. Census Bureau , the city of Leadville has an area of 1. Leadville has an alpine subarctic climate with cold winters and mild summers, bordering on a cold semi-arid climate. The average January temperatures are a maximum of The average July temperatures are a maximum of There are an average of mornings annually with freezing temperatures, which can occur in any month of the year.

Average annual precipitation is The wettest calendar year was with The most precipitation in one month was 4.

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The most precipitation in 24 hours was 2. Average annual snowfall is The most snowfall in one year was The most snowfall in one month was As of the census [31] of , there were 2, people, 1, households, and families residing in the city. The population density was 2, There were 1, housing units at an average density of 1, The racial makeup of the city was Hispanic or Latino of any race were There were 1, households out of which The average household size was 2.

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