Mo & Terry Smedley


horizontal rule

Part 8 - Leadville, Mining Museum, Tabor Opera House

Today we explored several historical sites in the Leadville area.  We focused less on trains and railroads today, but still managed to have a short ride on the Leadville, Colorado & Southern (standard gauge) Railroad.

Today was also our first day without bright sunshine.  It was quite a bit cooler today (temps in the 60s), and it rained all afternoon.  That gave me a reason to pull out the warmer clothes out of the suitcase (where they hadn't been touched!).

We explored the underground mine exhibit in the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum in Leadville. Dad will appreciate the mine roof bolts that show up in this museum display. In the neighboring Healy House historical museum, we found this "puking cow" creamer in the collection of late-nineteenth century furnishings.  We have a modern-day puking cow creamer at home. Mo liked the gardens at the Healy House, and thought we ought to do this in our front yard.
The rains came to downtown Leadville.  In the mining heyday of the late 1800s, the town was the second largest in Colorado, with a population in excess of 30,000.  Today, the population is under 3,000. I was able to ride in the cab of the GP-9 on our Leadville, Colorado & Southern excursion.  Engineer Steve is just 23 years old!  Charles Hill, also from our tour group, was quizzing Steve about railroad operations. Fellow tour members Charlie Treuhold and Lesley Mitchell also enjoyed the cab ride. A view of the foliage from the cab of our train.
Looking out the cab window.   The foliage display was brilliant today.  
Carol Bowditch eyes me warily from her seat in the caboose of our train.  If you look closely at the reflection in the glass, you can see me taking the picture. Looking out the back door of the caboose. Brilliant fall foliage. Terry enjoying the view from the cupola in the caboose.
Jay Bowditch was also enjoying the cupola ride. Elwin LeFevre had this open car to himself!  Most passengers had migrated to the enclosed cars to stay away from the rain. After we returned to Leadville from our train trip, we toured the Tabor Opera House, built in 1879 at the height of the silver mining boom. The interior of the Tabor Opera House, taken from the balcony.
The lighting panel (still in use) at the opera house. The main seating area in the opera house, taken from the stage. We enjoyed a tour of the Matchless Mine, which was originally owned by Horace Tabor and his wife Baby Doe. The central shaft of the mine (closed now for many years) drops some 360 feet below the surface.  You can see the wooden ladders the miners used to descend into the mine, where they made less than $3 for a twelve-hour workday.
This is the cabin at the mine where Baby Doe Tabor lived until her death in 1935.  The story of Horace and Baby Doe Tabor offers a fascinating glimpse into boom and bust silver mining.  Google them!