So much of Leadville’s fame, fortunes, and tragedies stem from its prolific gold and silver strikes. Its economic ebbs and flows mirrored mining activities and its current popularity as a tourist destination is due in part to its rich mining history.
According to geologists, Leadville contains the largest pockets of precious ores in North America. Despite the 1860s-gold rush, the subsequent silver boom, and the extraction of millions of dollars of zinc, lead, and copper, estimates suggest that only a small fraction of available precious metals and ores were mined, which means there’s still a lot available.
Visitors can get a sense of Leadville’s deep connection to mining by exploring several historic mines. Some, like the Mineral Belt Trail and the Route of the Silver Kings, are larger areas with interpretive signs that tell a big story. Others, like the Matchless Mine and Baby Doe’s Cabin, tell a more specific story, that of Horace Tabor and his wife, Baby Doe. For an intimate, hands-on tour, the Hopemore Mine shows visitors what is was like to be a miner during Leadville’s heyday.