Thursday, July 26, 2012

Leadville, Shrine Mtn Pass and Fremont Pass

Even with the 70 miles extra to get into Leadville, we still did it several more times while we were in the area.   Here are a few pictures of the town.
Leadville, as it was in the 1880s, maybe even earlier.  In 1860 gold was discovered in nearby California Gulch, but it was soon exhausted.  In 1877 silver was discovered and by 1890 over 30,000 fortune hunters made this the 2nd largest town in Colorado.  Several fortunes were made during this time, but by the late 1890s, the silver bust was over.  H.A.W Tabor and the Baby Doe Mine, as well as the Little Johnny Mine, owned by Johnny and Molly (Unsinkable) Brown were just a few who made their fortunes in silver.  But some lost it as easy as they found it.  The wife of H.A.W. Tabor was found dead in the Baby Doe Mine after they lost everything.
One of the interesting stories I read was about the May Store.  David May opened a general merchandise store to supply all the minors and thousands of people who arrived in Leadville.  The May Store eventually became May D & F, one of the largest chain store at one time in the midwest.

There was no cell phone service at the campground, so on the first morning in town everyone was catching up on email, text messages and phone calls.

Opened in 1879, it served the minors and homesteaders back then, and it is still serving the tourists today.

Although the elegance is old and not what it used to be, you know this was once a really elegant saloon.  There was a picture on the wall of H.A.W. Tabor's daughter, Lillie, at her christening.  Her christening dress cost $15,000 back in the 1880s.  During the first 15 or so years, there was more than $4,000,000 in silver removed.   That was in 1800 dollars, I can't even begin to imagine what that would be in todays dollars.

With all the money flowing in town, there was the attempt to bring high society to Leadville.  The Tabor Opera House was opened in 1879.

The Delaware Hotel was another example of the elegance that money brought to this mining town.   It opened in 1886 and still operates as a hotel today.

The inside has many of the furniture from the 1880s.  It also has a nice collection of dishes,  jewelry and other items from the 1800s as well.  Walking through the Delaware Hotel was as good as visiting many museums in my opinion.

After the road cave in outside of Leadville, we had to take the long way around.  One way to shortcut that distance was taking Shrine Mtn Pass.  From Highway 24 you turn off on the road to Red Cliff.

Going underneath the Hwy 24 bridge into Red Cliff.

When we saw this home, we thought maybe we had somehow been transported to Switzerland.   It just doesn't look like your typical Colorado mountain home.

Red Cliff is a small town of about 300 people.  The building on the left is Mangos Bar and Grill.  It has three floors, with the top deck being open.  When we stopped by the 2nd floor was closed unless you wanted to shoot pool and the top deck was closed.  The Red Cliff Lodge is next door and provides condos for those who want to ski the backside of Vail Mountain. 

Continuing on down the road, it was 11 miles over to I-70, just outside of Vail Pass.  Not a 4-wheel drive, it was dirt and gravel the entire way.

Leftovers from some old homesteaders.

Near the top of Shrine Pass there is a pullout and after a short 1/4 mile walk to the lookout, you see Holy Cross Mountain.  With the higher temperatures the last few years, much of the snow and ice has melted, so the only part of the cross left is the vertical line.  The horizontal line which finished the cross has melted, but the deep crevices on the top of this mountain usually formed a cross, which became famous, and the mountain was even named after this phenomenon.

At the top of the lookout was a large sign with a story.  This is PAWs, a mountain lion who hurt his foot.  His friends in the woods, racoon, rabbit, squirrel, deer and eagle went to get help from the two legged animal, man.  Man healed mountain lion, but he was crippled and couldn't be returned to the wild, yet man knew mountain lion missed the forest.  So man provided a way for mountain lion to return to his forest and visit.  This is the story of the organization PAWs, who provide handicap accessible paths to the woods.

Fremont Pass is on Hwy 91, between  Copper Mountain and Leadville.  At the top is Climax, Colorado, home today of the Climax Molybdenum Mine.

At one time the Climax Mine supplied three-fourths of the worlds molybdenum.  It was closed in 1982, but was reopened in 2012.  Molybdenum is used by steelmakers as an alloy for hardening steel.  Although it has many uses, one use is in the making of jet engines.
I still have more to blog about Leadville, but it will have to wait till later.  I know I haven't blogged much lately, but I've had phone problems and I use my phone as access to the internet.  And besides that, I've been in places where ATT service has been non-existent.  But I promise I will get caught up.

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