The Leadville mining district is located in Lake County, around the town of Leadville. Though today's Leadville population is around only 2,600 people, it has experienced past population explosions during boom times with populations in the tens of thousands. The town of Leadville was founded in 1877 by mine owners Horace Austin Warner Tabor and August Meyer.
Mines at Leadville have produced gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, and manganese. California Gulch placers were some of the richest gold discoveries in the district along with the Printer Boy gold lode. While mining for gold in nearby Oro City (now incorporated), heavy sands, which had been a former nuisance to gold placer mining operations, were discovered to be silver-bearing cerussite. These sands were traced back to their origin at Leadville around 1875, and the silver boom started. This marked the beginning of Leadville's most productive mining period, which declined after the collapse of the silver market in 1893. Zinc was the main product from 1903 until the 1920s. The Black Cloud Mine was the last operational mine in the district.
It is important to mention the very distinguished geologist Samuel Franklin Emmons, when discussing the Leadville mining district. In 1879, Emmons became the first geologist in charge of the Denver based Rocky Mountain division of the United States Geological Survey, which had only just been formed. His first task was to determine the mineral wealth of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Deciding to begin at Leadville, Emmons set to work on his ground breaking 1883 geologic atlas and 1886 monograph of the Leadville mining district, which was world renowned for its painstakingly detailed presentation of geologic information. It set a new standard in economic geologic publications.
Below: Notable topographical features in the Leadville mining district.