The most prosperous mining at the time in Colorado was the Leadville Silver Strike of 1877-78. The gold rush and silver discovery in the old mines went hand in hand to make the state mineral rich.
Some gold was discovered in the 1860's all over the state. Way before the grand strike in Cripple Creek in the 1890's, silver had been discovered in gold mines that had been played out.
Georgetown had the first silver discovery in 1865. Followed by Central City. Both were very prosperous mining operations.
Silver was the queen of the 1870's in Colorado. Silver ore was found from the north to the southwest corner of Colorado.
Leadville's silver strike put Georgetown and Central City to shame. Mining fever was back in the mountains of Colorado.
Prospectors had come to Leadville in the 1860's to find gold but were disappointed. Many left to find richer digs.
Those that stayed and decided to continue mining in Leadville reaped the rewards.
Leadville was a miner's dream. In 1879-80 over $20 million worth of silver was mined. Colorado had a new name, "The Silver State." Everywhere miners looked, they found silver, maybe with a little gold thrown in.
Silver was in the mountains all over Colorado. But, miners soon found out that Leadville wasn't the only large strike.
Another great silver camp was Aspen. Everybody knows the town as a famous ski resort. It didn't start out that way. Silver made it popular.
During this time, many western legends made Leadville their home. Bat Masterson, the famous gambler and gunfighter had a small stake in the Leadville silver strike.
Kit Carson, scout and explorer also found his way to Leadville. Doc Holliday, the notorious gunfighter, also made appearances here.
With silver flowing like water, the state of Colorado was very prosperous. Nothing could stop it.
But something did. The price of silver started to fall. A couple of reasons for this was foreign countries were not making silver coins anymore, so they had no need for the ore.
Very few industries had a use for silver, so no one needed it.
Leadville and the state were producing so much silver, that there was too much of it. So prices started to fall.
Finally, in 1893, the U.S. was forced into an economic depression. The banks failed, businesses closed and people lost their jobs. This didn't happen in stages, it happened all at once.
It became no longer profitable to mine silver and so the mines closed. The entire state of Colorado suffered. Silver was the backbone to its prosperity.
These were very bad times. People all over the state wondered if they would ever get back their land of plenty and the riches she held.
It wasn't long til they found out. It came with another gold discovery in Cripple Creek a few years later.