Monthly Archives: March 2011

Real Boom Town Treasures

mine ruins

mine ruins

Publication date of my latest book, Baby Doe Tabor: Matchless Silver Queen, is fast approaching. As we struggle through final edits in an attempt to provide the most interesting and correct factual information possible, I am enjoying revisiting Colorado’s mining history as I have throughout the process. Just as I learned about railroads and their impact on our country’s western expansion during my work on General William Palmer: Railroad Pioneer, I have experienced a similar learning curve about mining for Baby Doe Tabor’s story.

Research has taken me to Leadville, Colorado several times. I enjoy immersing myself in its rich history and breathtaking¬† landscape (literally, at an altitude of 10,200 feet,) while searching for my own nuggets of information and stories to preserve and share in biographies. My most recent trip took me to California Gulch, a stretch about three miles from Leadville, which was the site of the area’s earliest frantic mining activity.

Oro Ruin

Oro City Ruin

Nothing much is left of Oro City in California Gulch, where Horace Tabor first arrived in 1860. The Mineral Belt Trail through the mining camp reveals only a handful of partial building remains and mine ruins as a reminder of the frantic, fleeting days when Oro was a boom town. Nearby in Leadville, rich history has been preserved and restored at every turn, to be enjoyed, shared and absorbed by those who visit. After all, the stories of the lives of their pioneers are the real boom town treasures which have endured to the present.

Save the date:
Boom Days in Leadville, August 5-7, 2011

Joyce B. Lohse, 3/25/11



Posted by on March 25, 2011 in Western history


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Archeology and History


Macaw at Petroglyph National Monument

Why was I riveted to an old Indiana Jones movie last evening? Besides Spielberg’s magic and a young Harrison Ford, it had a lot to do with the archealogical tale of unfolding mysteries through material evidence of past human life. The story also touched lightly on the issue of truth as opposed to myth, one of my favorite speech topics regarding our more modern western history. How cool is that!

Recently, I visited Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Located close to town, we hiked and scrambled through rocks containing messages from the ancients. A brochure contains a quotation by Pueblo Elder, William F. Weahkee: “Each of these rocks is alive, keeper of a message left by the ancestors … There are spirits, guardians; there is medicine …”

Deciphering the messages requires much study and imagination. The macaw, used as a symbol for the site, is probably indicative of trade and prosperity for the value of its feathers. Nothing is certain in this science. These beautiful images and symbols can also be appreciated for their artistic value. After this visit, and a past jaunt to the Talking Rocks north of Thermopolis, Wyoming, I am hooked. Next time, I encounter a petroglyph site, I will make sure I have my cowboy hat, boots, and water jug, and plan better for the hike and scramble over the rocks. Also, I agree with Indy … I can do without the snakes.

Joyce Lohse, 3/6/11


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