Leadville, Colorado
and
the Silver Boom
of the 1880's

 

Harmon and a partner invested in silver mine at Leadville, Colorado. When the mine came in rich, he and his wife went to Leadville. It was a wild frontier town... Harmon lost one eye in a mine accident. The two traveled back and forth between Colorado and Iowa and finally brought their family to Leadville. On one occasion Louisa (his wife) and the children were on the train when it was stopped by robbers… the women and children were told they would not be harmed if they kept quiet.

 

Next they moved to the Grand Valley, near Palisade, Colorado, where Harmon had peach orchards. He was influential in getting irrigation started, and was director of a bank.” “Later they moved to California where he developed lemon orchards at Whittier.

The Glitter of Gold? No, Silver!
The Glitter of Gold? No, Silver!

In 1874, during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush that started in the 1860’s, miners at a find near Oro City, Colorado, labored to sluice the precious metal but were hampered by a heavy darkly-colored sand. One of them being a metallurgist tested the sand and discovered it was rich with silver. When the news became public, two-hundred prospectors a day poured into a small berg in the area that would become known as Leadville. (Photos courtesy of www.miningartifacts.org)

Overnight Success
Overnight Success

By 1880 Leadville had become the world’s largest silver camp with a population of over 40,000. Geographically, at over 10,000 feet elevation the town was treacherously cold, but the inhabitants, prospectors seeking their fortunes at any cost, were even more dangerous. The town populated faster than the infrastructure could be created and gained a reputation of wild wickedness. By 1883, the town had ninety-seven salons and countless gambling halls. (Photos courtesy of www.miningartifacts.org)

When to Hold and When to Fold
When to Hold and When to Fold

Leadville claimed it created more millionaires in a ten-year period than any other city in the world. Amidst the gaudy nighttime atmosphere, a high-society of upper-class social life arose. Harmon and his partner bought and sold the Little Johnny Mine very quickly and profitably. Although Leadville had produced more than $200 million in silver ore, repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1893 made silver almost worthless. (Photos courtesy of www.miningartifacts.org)

The Glitter of Gold? No, Silver!
The Glitter of Gold? No, Silver!

In 1874, during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush that started in the 1860’s, miners at a find near Oro City, Colorado, labored to sluice the precious metal but were hampered by a heavy darkly-colored sand. One of them being a metallurgist tested the sand and discovered it was rich with silver. When the news became public, two-hundred prospectors a day poured into a small berg in the area that would become known as Leadville. (Photos courtesy of www.miningartifacts.org)

1/3

mouse over pictures for captions - click for expanded view

"Farming is not for the

weak-of-heart. Like gambling, today’s fortunes can quickly

become tomorrow’s losses."

—Anonymous