Leadville, Colorado
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.


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."


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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)