Saturday, September 10, 2011

Leadville, CO

Leadville claims to be the highest incorporated city in the United States (10,430 feet elevation). One of its nicknames is The Two Mile City. It was a wild boomtown in the 1880s and made its fortune in silver, which was mined in a heavy carbonate of lead. Because so many Colorado towns already had silver in their names, the locals settled on Leadville. 

In the 1860s, gold was discovered nearby and thousands came to the valley for their share. There is said to have been more than 6,000 prospectors; roughly eight million dollars in gold was taken. It lasted about six years.

Silver replaced it in 1877 with the discovery of one of the richest and most famous silver districts.  By 1880, it was one of the world's  largest silver mining camps with a population of over 40,000. (Less than 3,000 live there now.) Leadville produced over seven million dollars worth of the metal. This old photo shows workers loading silver bars.

With the likes of resident Doc Holliday and other less notorious outlaws, Leadville has seen some wild, Wilde days. In 1882, Oscar Wilde lectured at the opera house while on tour. 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.'" Apparently, the town was full of saloons and red-light districts. It has been estimated that at its peak, the town was consuming over 200 kegs of beer a day. During World War II, Leadville was a popular spot for visits by soldiers at nearby Camp hale, but only after the town acted to curb prostitution; until then, the Army had declared the town off-limits for its personnel.

The sidewalks are raised high from the road.

I liked the hitching rings.

These full-size hatchets were door pulls on a cabinet in one shop we visited.

We had been told we had to eat dinner in Leadville at a place called Quincy's Steaks and Spirits. Well, our timing was a little off and we arrived mid-afternoon. It rained off and on as we skipped between the little shops on the main street, passing the time. In fact as we waited for the restaurant to open at five, it rained so that we sat on the wall in our raincoats with the hoods up so as to be one of the first inside. We were hungry, having had little for lunch, and we were not at our destination for the night.

We found the restaurant to be all it had been advertised to be. It had the feeling of an old saloon and I swear it could have been an updated Miss Kitty efficiently running the place. (For you youngsters, she was a character on the popular TV show, Gunsmoke.) On the ends of each booth were jacket hooks. B's red rain jacket is hanging in the picture. Note the tin tiled ceiling and the antique chandelier.

The menu is limited to steak or vegetable lasagna for entrees, with potato, salad and rolls. Beer, wine and other spirits were available. It was a good meal for a great price and served in a very reasonable time. Within a minute of opening their door, they had filled every table. Apparently, the word spreads. There are one or two other locations in the state.

 Leadville was a fun place.

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