It was the lure of gold that caused Leadville to be founded. Placer gold was found by Abe Lee in California Gulch, which is about a mile east of Leadville, during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush in 1860. The first gold was discovered in April, but by the end of summer, the population of Leadville would reach over 10,000.
By 1866, nearly all the gold deposits were exhausted, and many miners left. The rest moved closer to town, which had been covered with a heavy, black sand. It was discovered that this sand was actually cerussite, which contains at least 15 ounces of silver per ton.
Leadville was again a boom town by 1879. With the new influx, hotels, brothels, saloons, restaurants and more were built. Many mines also were created, and fortunes were made, especially by silver magnate and Tabor Opera House builder Horace Tabor and even the Guggenheims. Horace Tabor would even give the site its official name, based on the lead ore found in the area.
The Marker Inscription
Entering The Cloud City. Altitude 10,152 Ft.
“Here on the roof-top of the nation flourished about 1844 the most famous silver mining camp in the world. Perhaps 30,000 fortune hunters made this town about 1890 the second largest city of Colorado. Here grew fabulous fortunes – among many of H.A.W. Tabor. A Gay and cultivated social life, violent labor contests, ambitious projects like the ice palace marked the city.
In 1860, gold was discovered nearby in California Gulch but soon exhausted. The miners scattered. Seventeen years later a heavy sand discarded by prospectors as a nuisance in the pine woods hereabouts was found to be silver carbonate.
Westward loom Mount Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak, and Mount Massive. The Sawatch (Blue Earth) range to the west and the Mosquito to the east contain several of the loftiest mountains in North America.
Healy House and Dexter Cabin State Museum, Harrison Avenue and East Tenth Street, depicts life in pioneer Leadville.”
Location: 39° 15.785′ N, 106° 17.459′