June 2, 2011

Mines, Museums, and Mountains: a Trip to Leadville

Over Memorial weekend, we took a daytrip to Leadville, Colorado. Partly to see a new city and partly so we didn't have to play Monopoly with the kids again. We drove through the mountains for about 2.5 hours to get there. Despite the weather being downcast yet warm in Denver, in the mountains it was sunny and cold enough to keep the snow from melting apparently.

Upon reaching Leadville--a small town from back in the glory days of mining--we stopped at Golden Burro Cafe to grab lunch, then went to the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum. Pretty sweet pic of the streetlight, huh?

The museum was interesting, housing lots of different types of ores...

(That's Wulfenite up there.)

...old mining equipment...

...photos, which I took expressly for my grandma, whose dad had been a miner in Montana, as well...

...a model railway which sucked the kids in more than anything else...

...and full-size dioramas of the mines of yore...

Outside, on the terrace, we got a great view of the whole town...

...and of the back of Kayden's throat:

Then we headed up to Baby Doe Tabor's old cabin.

Click here to read more and to see where a Colorado royal had lived...and died. OooooOOOOoooooh!

The tour of Baby Doe Tabor's cabin was my favorite part of the day. Our tour guide, Debbie Jo was funny and knowledgeable and clearly very passionate about Colorado history. First, we walked around to the back of the cabin (which started out as the administrative office) to the mine entrance:

Then we walked through the small building where the aboveground operations took place:

Lastly, we went into the cabin. If you look about four inches above Kayden's head, there is a notch in the door frame. This was done to show how tall Baby Doe stood (approximately five feet tall).

The cabin was unintentionally creepy. The walls are covered in newspapers from the 1930s (the papers were donated by a museum admirer and were hung to show how the cabin looked while Tabor lived there) to keep out drafts. The one-room cabin was fairly small and mostly windowless. To imagine living there for many years made me a little anxious and claustrophobic.

The tour guide told the story of Baby Doe Tabor while referencing the photos on the wall:

(Rather than me telling it and probably botching it, you can read about it here.)

Finally we grabbed some ice cream cones, saw some drive-by sites, then split back to Denver. And then played Monopoly with the kids, anyways.

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