Leadville Mining District

Year Listed: 1998
County: Lake County
Construction Date: 1860s
Threat When Listed: Demolition

The Leadville Mining District is an architectural testament to the silver boom in Colorado. It is arguably on e of the most important cultural landscapes that remains from Colorado’s frontier mining days.  The Leadville Mining District includes four stages of mining activity (gold placer, silver lodge, gold lode, and base metal) that began in 1860 and continues into the 21st century.  Famous Coloradans such as Meyer Guggenheim, David Moffat, and Horace Tabor made their fortunes here after the discovery of silver in 1877. The area has been designated a National Historic Landmark District.

Colorado Preservation, Inc’s designation of the Leadville Mining District created controversy among individuals across the state as the threat came from potential demolition by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA, Colorado legislators, Leadville citizens and the preservation community began a dialogue soon after the site was listed in order to ensure that preserving as much of the remaining historic fabric was a priority during the Superfund clean-up effort.

Recognizing that public and environmental health was a top priority, a compromise was reached for Stray Horse Gulch that caused the least harm to the historic resources while at the same time accomplishing the stated environmental goals. Unfortunately, that remediation effort is now considered unsustainable in the long term, and the waste rock piles (recognized as contributing features to the National Register Listed District) are now being eyed for more aggressive treatment that will likely include consolidation and capping.  The EPA is working closely with the residents of Leadville and the preservation community to develop the best possible outcome through a series of pilot studies which began in 2009.

A 12-mile Mineral Belt Bike Path was built through and around the mining district and has been a tremendous success.  Visitors are able to bike, walk or ski along the path and learn more about the history of the Leadville Mining District by reading the installed interpretive signage. Sadly, some of the best examples of cabins and head frames have been lost to vandalism and arson, and those that remain are in need of stabilization to prevent collapse.

Little work has been done in recent years. Meetings occurred with the Lake County Economic Development Corporation, but the site needs a determination on its future needs and environmental remediation efforts.

Additional Links:
Enviornmental Protection Agency
Leadville/Lake County Chamber of Commerce


Donate to CPI

We hope you will extend your appreciation for Colorado's heritage by helping us take advantage of this $1 to $1 matching campaign. Learn more about our matching campaign and make your tax-deductible donation today!

Featured Project

Preservation for a Changing Colorado

Historic preservation has a direct economic benefit to communities and Colorado! Take a look at the 2017 study, which considered the ways adaption of historic places has a direct financial effect on the state.

This updated, most resent study, was the result of a partnership between Colorado Preservation, Inc and History Colorado, funded by a grant from History Colorado's State Historical Fund. Prepared by Clarion Associates, the new report document the economic benefits of rehabilitation projects, analyzes property values and neighborhood stability in local historic districts, and summarizes the increasing impact of heritage tourism, private preservation development and the success of Colorado’s Main Street program.

In a key finding, researchers determined that for every $1 million spent on historic preservation in Colorado it produced $1.03 million in additional spending, 14 new jobs, and $636,700 in increased household incomes across the state!

The 2017 report also considers the important role preservation plays in helping Coloradans provide new spaces for creative communities and co-working, create and sustain meaningful places, responds to the state’s changing demographics, and addresses climate concerns.

Click Here to see download and read the full report, "Preservation for a Changing Colorado".