Leeds Mountain Gold & Silver Mining Company 1880's - Colorado

Leeds Mountain Gold & Silver Mining Company 1880's - Colorado

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Leeds Mountain Gold & Silver Mining Company 1880's - Colorado
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Beautifully engraved unissued certificate from the Leeds Mountain Gold & Silver Mining Company dated 188X. The company was located in the Monarch Mining District in Chaffee County, Colorado. This historic document has an ornate border around it with vignettes of men mining and of a mill site along the waterfront with mountains in the background. This item is over 119 years old. Chaffee County and the 14ers Region enter a new century prosperous and growing. While the Valley's roots still lie in its agricultural, railroading and mining heritage from the 1800s and 1900s, the valley is now moving into a new era, where pioneers of a different sort are finding their livelihoods in arts, health and recreation industries. The region's history goes back to the 15th Century. When Columbus discovered the Americas, Ute Indians were already roaming the Upper Arkansas Valley. Spanish and French explorers passed through the valley in the 17th and 18th centuries. Juan Batista de Anza led a contingent of 645 men through the San Luis Valley and over Poncha Pass in 1779, searching for Chief Cuerno Verde - Greenhorn - and his band of Comanches. The men in De Anza's troop are believed to be the first whites to enter the valley. In 1806, explorer Zebulon Pike led an expedition to Colorado where he discovered and named Pikes Peak. That Christmas, Pike and his party of 15 camped next to Squaw Creek where it meets the Arkansas River. Four miles north of Poncha Springs on U.S. 285, that campsite today is a marked historical site. Trappers and traders came next, and with the discovery of gold in California in 1849, prospectors began scrambling over the passes of the Continental Divide, sifting and digging their way through Colorado's Rockies. Gold's discovery at Oro City in 1860 and huge silver strikes at Leadville in 1870 brought mining booms to the region. Settlers and railroads followed, striving to serve the mining camps. In 1876, the push westward and mining's growth spurred Colorado to join the union of the United States. Buena Vista incorporated in October 1879 and Salida and Poncha Springs followed in 1880. In the 1880s, Buena Vista, Poncha Springs and Salida all developed as railroad towns. Indeed, in the late 1880s and 1890s, the engines of no less than three railroads - the Denver & Rio Grande Western, the Denver, South Park & Pacific and the Colorado Midland - steamed their way through the region. But the boom times were short-lived. The railroads became victims of competition, changing regulations and a faltering economy. By 1926, only one railroad still operated, the D&RGW. As a D&RGW division point with 500-plus employees, Salida prospered. But in the mid-1950s, the railroad began a gradual pullout, first abandoning the line through Poncha and over Marshall Pass to Gunnison. By the mid-1960s, the D&RGW's Salida presence amounted to about 50 employees, just a fraction of its former work force. Today, the Union Pacific, the successor to the D&RGW, owns the line through the Upper Arkansas Valley, but operates with only minimal traffic. Through the years, mining and agriculture also played key roles in the region's history. Indeed, many of Chaffee County's best-known landmarks are tied to either mining or railroads, including the 1,772-foot Alpine Tunnel through the Continental Divide, the Midland Tunnels near Buena Vista, and the 365-foot Smeltertown Smokestack near Salida, considered the world's tallest smokestack when built in 1917. It was the resurgence of mining in the late 1960s and 1970s that drove a modest boom in the region. In 1970, the Climax Molybdenum Co. north of Leadville employed about 1,700. By 1980, the mine supplying "moly," a steel-hardening agent, had 3,100 miners, with some 900 living in Salida, Poncha Springs and Buena Vista. But the energy bust of the mid-1980s shattered the region's mining economy. By 1987, only a handful of miners still worked at Climax. Today, like railroads, the region's mining days are history living in the memories of proud men and women who followed the prospectors who first began settling in and developing Chaffee County and the 14ers Region. It took several years for the valley to work its way out of the mining bust. But by the mid-1990s, the valley began coming back. Only this time, instead of railroads or mining, a variety of industries fuel a "new" economy. These include lone eagles, a state prison, small manufacturing, retirees, real estate, construction, health and medicine, tourism and recreation. Over the years, the visitor industry has always been a factor in the economy. But recreation blossomed over the past decade with growth in skiing and rafting to where today it is the valley's dominant industry. From a rope tow in the 1960s, the Monarch Ski and Snowboard Area developed to become a regional force with 150,000 skier-day visits per year. From scratch, from nothing, boating grew from the late 1970s to where the Arkansas is the nation's top rafting river with some 300,000 boating the Arkansas every year. Emerging as a force, as well, are the arts. From a modest beginning, galleries in Buena Vista and Salida now occupy prominent business locations. The Old Courthouse Gallery in Buena Vista and Salida's Steam Plant serve as anchors for arts in the county. Sunset Magazine named Salida "Best Arts Town in the West." As the 14ers Region prospered entering the 20th Century, it begins the 21st Century looking with optimism at what the future holds. Only today, mining and railroads are all but gone, a part of the valley's historic lore. Rolling into 2000, a new economy beckons with its own dreams, opportunities and matching challenges.


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  • leedmoutgols
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  • Coins & Currency
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  • Antiques
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