8 Great Reasons You’ll Dig Leadville & Twin Lakes HistoryDecember 19, 2020
If you’d like to learn more about Colorado’s past, explore Leadville and Twin Lakes history this winter! Here, links to the past abound. From museums to winter trails to Victorian architecture, you’ll find unique character in our genuine and historic mountain towns. If you’re on a ski vacation and need a break from the slopes, or your family members don’t ski, exploring our history is an excellent way to enjoy the area.
Check out these eight great reasons you’ll dig our history. Please note that masks and social distancing are required inside all public spaces. Thank you for your cooperation in helping keep everyone safe and our businesses open!
1) You can ski or snowmobile past real mining headframes.
For an active tour of mining history, travel our Mineral Belt Trail and East Side Mining District to see original mining headframes and relics, plus jaw-dropping views of surrounding peaks. The Mineral Belt Trail includes interpretive signs, to help you better understand the area’s colorful mining history.
- Mineral Belt Trail : Snowshoe, cross-country ski, or fat bike.
- East Side Mining District: All of the above + snowmobile tours and above-treeline views.
2) Downtown Leadville has a Victorian vibe.
Stroll through 70 square blocks of National Historic Landmark District in downtown Leadville, renowned for its Victorian architecture. Explore the numerous shops, saloons, and restaurants. Check out our self-guided tour (p. 12 of the Leadville/Lake County Heritage Guide) and the best ways to walk back in time in downtown Leadville.
3) Wild West saloons are still open.
Stop into the Silver Dollar Saloon to see the original diamond-dust mirrors, intricately carved bar, and the many historic photographs. Oscar Wilde wet his whistle here, and it’s said to be the state’s longest-operating saloon. Choose from tasty menu items like smoked salmon cigarillos and lamb French dip.
Around the corner is Leadville’s Historic Pastime Cafe, voted the best burgers and BBQ in Leadville. It is the last existing saloon on old State Street where there were once 64 saloons. We did say Leadville was the Wild West!
Dine in (limited seating, to prevent the spread of Covid-19) or pick up carryout.
4) Walk-in mine replicas stir your imagination.
The 25,000 square foot National Mining Hall of Fame & Museum tells the story of mining, its people, its importance to the American public, and to society’s sustainability. It’s full of life-sized mine replicas, mining equipment, dioramas, crystals and gems, and fun for the whole family!
5) You can see how wealthy miners lived.
You’ll learn about life in an 1880s silver boomtown at the beautifully restored Healy House Museum and Dexter Cabin. See lavish Victorian furnishings collected by Leadville pioneers. Tour the 1879 log cabin of mining investor and businessman James V. Dexter–it’s surprisingly plush.
6) You can tour a frontier synagogue.
In Leadville, you can learn about the lives of Jewish pioneers during Leadville’s mining boom era. The oldest of the area’s frontier synagogues, Temple Israel, was built in 1884 and welcomes visitors. Marvel at its collection of artifacts about Leadville, the city’s resident Jews, Temple Israel as a synagogue, and life in a mining town in the 1880s and 1890s.
7) Twin Lakes is magical in winter.
Visit historic Twin Lakes for a glimpse of late 1800s life. You can do the Twin Lakes walking tour all year long. See a schoolhouse built in 1895 that served through 1959, a dance hall built in 1888, an adobe hotel, a blacksmith shop, and much more.
While much of the small village is closed in winter, the Twin Lakes Inn & Saloon, formerly a stagecoach stop and brothel, is open Thursday-Sunday this winter. Enjoy romantic lodging and delicious dinners and brunches. Curbside pickup and local delivery is available, and the dining room seating is limited to give you Covid-safe options. The Inn is a great jumping-off point to explore the area and celebrate Twin-ter! Including ice fishing and admiring the views of Twin Lakes.
8) You can snowshoe or bike to a ghost resort.
Trek to a ghost resort you can only reach by trail or by ice! Snowshoe or mountain bike to the Interlaken Resort, on the shores of Twin Lakes. An escape for wealthy miners in the late 1800s, it can be reached only by a four-mile round-trip trail in winter.