7 History Tours to Take in Leadville, ColoradoAugust 12, 2019
Leadville, Colorado, was one of the West’s wildest silver boomtowns in the late 1800s, and many reminders of its history can still be seen today. Check out these seven kinds of history tours in Leadville and nearby Twin Lakes, Colorado.
1) Downtown Museums
Plan a full day to explore Leadville’s many museums—all within walking distance of each other—and learn the area’s intriguing history.
- Healy House and Dexter Cabin – A lavishly restored Victorian home built by August Meyer for his bride and a plush 1870s log cabin built by James Dexter, Colorado’s first millionaire. (Open through September)
- Heritage Museum – Discover Leadville memorabilia, including a replica of Leadville’s famous Ice Palace. (Open through September)
- House with the Eye – Offers a fascinating example of a Leadville Victorian home in the Silver Rush days.
- National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum – Called “the Smithsonian of the Rockies,” this 25,000’ space lets you explore mining’s past, present, and future. (Open year ‘round)
- Tabor Home – See the house where Horace Tabor lived with his first wife, Augusta. (Open through Labor Day)
- Temple Israel – Learn about pioneer Jewish life in this frontier synagogue. (Open through October)
2) Matchless Mine Surface Tour
The love triangle of Horace, Augusta, and “Baby Doe” Tabor is a Colorado legend. So is the rags-to-riches-to-rags story of Horace and his second wife Baby Doe.
Come to Leadville and tour the Tabors’ Matchless Mine, which became one of Leadville’s most-productive silver mines ever. Look down the shaft of the mine that produced untold riches and stand inside the small one-room cabin where Baby Doe, later widowed and penniless, spent her last days. (Guided and self-guided tours through September)
3) Historic Tabor Opera House
Tour the Tabor Opera House, celebrating its 140th anniversary in 2019, for a taste of the fine life during Colorado’s 1880s Silver Rush. Built in just 100 days by mining magnate Horace Tabor, this grand old opera house brought arts and culture to one of the West’s wildest boomtowns.
Luminaries such as Buffalo Bill, Oscar Wilde, and Anna Held appeared at the Tabor, as did a live circus with tigers. Today, you too can tread the boards where many a famous performer walked. Stand on the stage and peer out at the original red velvet seats. Look for the trap door that legend says was cut for magician Harry Houdini. Or sing a song to test the acoustics of this beautiful theater.
Beneath the stage, touch heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey’s boxing ropes, left after his fight at the Tabor. See the enormous bellows from the pump organ of famous American composer and conductor John Phillip Sousa. Then head upstairs to the grand ballroom, which exudes an elegant grace despite its need for renovation. Look through its tall windows to Colorado’s two highest peaks.
Complement your tour with a performance! Shows are held on select weekends through mid-September. (Tours Tuesday through Sunday through August, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; call for the September tour schedule)
4) Leadville’s Scenic Train
On the Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad, you’ll ride through untamed wilderness to the Continental Divide, tracing the old Denver, South Park & Pacific and Colorado & Southern lines. This journey is full of breath-taking panoramas across the Arkansas River Valley and humorous narratives about Leadville’s colorful past.
On this two- and one-half hour adventure through the untamed wilderness, you’ll learn the history of Leadville and its legendary former residents—the Unsinkable Molly Brown, the Tabors, the Guggenheims, and Doc Holliday.
Be sure to check out the special rides with BBQ, fall photo ops, and the Top of the Rockies Zip-line specials. (Trains twice a day on weekends, daily weekdays until Oct. 6, 2019)
5) Evergreen Cemetery & Ghost Walking Tours
On guided walking tours in Leadville, you can discover the stories of early residents and of those whose spirits are said to still roam the city today. These tours lead you to the Paupers Field in Evergreen Cemetery and throughout downtown and the historic Delaware Hotel, where stories of energies abound. (Friday and Saturday afternoons and evenings through Sept. 30, 2019)
6) Leadville’s East Side Mining District Safari Driving Tours
On weekends, get to know more about Leadville’s early residents and the East Side Mining District—in which many scratched out a hard living and others amassed untold wealth. Caravan-style driving tours through the mining district both show you historic mining structures and tell you the history of Leadville’s mines. (Saturday mornings through Sept. 30, 2019)
7) Twin Lakes Interlaken Boat Tours
Hop aboard a scenic narrated boat tour of Twin Lakes, nestled among Colorado’s highest peaks. You’ll motor across the shimmering glacial lakes and land at the historic Interlaken resort, a late-1800s getaway for wealthy mining tycoons. As you roam these old buildings, you’ll get a sense of what it was like when people came to enjoy Twin Lakes over 100 years ago. Along the way, you’ll learn about the area’s geology, wildlife, history, and folklore. Please reserve in advance. (Daily through September)
Passport to Leadville History
Last chance this year! For admission to the Tabor Opera House tours, the Matchless Mine, and all downtown Leadville museums, plus discounts on the boat tour, train ride, and Sunday-Wednesday night stays at the historic Delaware Hotel, buy a Passport to Leadville History. This money-saving and convenient Passport is good through Labor Day for one visit to each museum. It is transferable. Order it online or buy it from participating sites throughout Leadville and Twin Lakes. (Through Labor Day, Sept. 2, 2019)