The Guide tells the story of 14 stops and more than 20 sites along the Route of the Silver Kings in the Leadville Mining District, one of the richest and best-known mining camps in the United States.  Mining began when placer gold was discovered in April 1860.  140 years mining ended January 1999 when American Smelting and Refining Company’s Black Cloud mine and mill closed.  The U.S. Bureau of Mines estimated that there are 1329 shafts, 1628 prospect holes and more than 200 miles of workings in the district, U.S. Bureau of Mines, R.I. 4581, p. 13.  Seventeen smelters are listed in the May 30, 1879 issue of the Leadville Daily Evening Chronicle.  The district was served by 3 railroads; the Rio Grande arrived in 1881, the Union Pacific (Denver South Park and Pacific, Colorado and Southern, Leadville Colorado and Southern) in 1884, and the Colorado Midland in 1887.  The district produced 3,300,000 ounces of gold, 265,400,000 ounces of silver, 2,400,000,000 pounds of lead, 1,900,000,000 pounds of zinc, 110,000,000 pounds of copper and significant amounts of manganese and iron, compiled from; U.S.G.S. PP 148 p 112, Fig. 41, U.S.B.M R.I. 4581 1949, p 14, Mineral Resources of Colorado First Sequel, p 176, USGS gold, lead, silver and zinc prices,, A.S.A.R.Co. 10K Reports 1992 to 1995.

On your tour, please treat the mining district with care; it is located entirely on private land. The few remaining structures are fragile and dangerous.  Respect “No Trespassing” signs; do not enter mine shafts or tunnels; no rock hounding, treasure hunting, metal detecting or digging.

Stops – marked by yellow stars on the maps and by numbered rectangular signs on posts along the roads. 

Locations marked with numbered squares or triangles on the maps are not marked along the roads.  Stops and locations are described in detail in the Narrative Guide.

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