Temple Israel
Leadville History

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Brief History of Leadville

The town of Leadville sprang from the nascent mining industry’s dashed and renewed hopes. Gold was discovered in California Gulch in 1859, south of Leadville’s current site, during the Pike’s Peak gold rush. Around 5,000 prospectors lived in the settlement of Oro City, founded in 1860. The brief gold boom sputtered out due to the heavy black sand choking the mines.

In 1878, metallurgist Avlinius Woods and partner William Stevens discovered that the black sand was actually cerussite (lead carbonate: PbCO3), which had a high silver content. Subsequent digs in the mining camp, then called Slabtown, struck major lodes of silver deposits. Slabtown changed its name to Leadville in 1877.

By 1880, Leadville boasted the largest and richest silver strikes in Colorado and grew to a population of over 24,000 people.

Recommended Book Sources about Leadville
  • Blair, Edward. Leadville: Colorado's Magic City. Boulder: Fred Pruitt Books, 1980.
  • Griswold, Don L. and Jean Harvey Griswold. History of Leadville and Lake County, Colorado. [2 volumes] Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 1996.
  • Buys, Christian J. A Quick History of Leadville. Lake City, Colorado: Western Reflections Publishing Company, 2011.

Temple Israel Foundation
208 West 8th Street
Leadville, Colorado 80461

Temple Israel Museum
201 West 4th Street
Leadville, Colorado 80461

Hebrew Cemetery
SW Corner of Evergreen Cemetery
North end of James Street, Leadville
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