Tag Archives: Mining

Colorado History Presentation

A History Presentation by Author Joyce B. Lohse:
“Mining for the Real Baby Doe Tabor”

at Historic Tattered Cover LoDo Bookstore
1628 16th St. at Wynkoop in Denver
Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.

Baby Doe Cover

A legendary pioneer woman, Baby Doe Tabor, provided us with one of the greatest rags-to-riches-to-rags stories in America’s western history. Award-winning biographer Joyce B. Lohse has written her biography set in Colorado’s days of boom and bust. The story appeals to a general audience and history buffs who appreciate the history of the West’s mining past. Her PowerPoint presentation includes historic photos, research stories, and Lizzie’s Cookies!

Baby Doe Tabor: Matchless Silver Queen, ISBN 978-0-86541-107-4, list price $9.95, is now available through your favorite bookseller, or from the publisher, . It is distributed for resale and libraries through BooksWest and Baker and Taylor.

See you there! — Joyce Lohse


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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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OMG Road

OMG Road 2

In 1880, former Union Army General and U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant visited Colorado. One of his hosts was Governor John L. Routt, a pal from Civil War days. As Grant’s host, Routt wished to show his friend the sights of Colorado’s mining districts, while attempting to recapture the excitement of their glory days.

After a tour of the mining camp of Central City in the mountains west of Denver, Routt decided to play a little joke on Grant. For the return trip down the mountains, Routt paid the veteran wagon driver to give Grant an exciting ride down Virginia Canyon Stage Road. That he did. For the 1,000 foot descent down eight-plus miles of gravel road, the driver urged his horses as fast as they would go down the narrow route. As they thundered along at a hair-raising pace around blind curves with sheer drops on one side, the wagon careened and leaned, sliding on the loose rock surface. Once they were safely in Idaho Springs at the bottom of the descent, a jittery Grant shook hands with the driver and presented him with a wad of money for a tip, in payment for his excellent driving skills and for the exciting ride down the mountain.

OMG Road 1

Last week, 130 years later, we found ourselves in Central City on a research jaunt. It was an easy drive up the recently built and lightly traveled Central City Parkway. When it was time to leave, my hubby asked which way I wished to go. Without hesitation, I responded that I wished to go down the Virginia Canyon Stage Road, CR 279, aka “Oh My Gawd Road”.  With a name like that, I wondered if it would thrill or disappoint us. After thirty-six years of mountain driving we’ve seen our share of dicey roads. There was only one way to find out.

The OMG Road had more thrills than an amusement park roller coaster, and as many breathtaking views. Although my driver proceeded cautiously in his Subaru, I experienced more than one white-knuckle breath-sucking moment. I could only imagine the heart-stopping excitement of careening down the mountainside and around blind curves behind a thundering team of horses.

AAA recommends that people driving trailers or unaccustomed to driving on gravel mountain roads avoid this one. Central City Visitor’s Center suggests that the passenger might prefer to sit behind the driver to avoid experiencing the illusion of sailing off the roadbed into thin air at each turn. Personally, I recommend reliance on a cautiously driven Subaru, and avoidance of a horse-driven spring wagon with a driver arranged by a jolly prankster.

Grant’s wild ride is described in Joyce Lohse’s book:
First Governor, First Lady: John and Eliza Routt of Colorado
Filter Press, 2002

Joyce B. Lohse, 5/23/2010


Posted by on May 23, 2010 in Western history


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Indian Summer

Aspen Leaves

Transitional shoulder months in Colorado are full of beauty and surprises. One minute, a blizzard sends you scurrying toward the hearth and a pile of quilts, then the sun pops out and lures you outdoors to linger among crunchy leaves and inhale the warm breath of Indian Summer.

As shadows lengthen and the days grow shorter, activities related to collecting, preserving and enjoying pioneer history return indoors. During a recent snowstorm, I set aside research and read a book entitled, Prayers For Sale, by Sandra Dallas. As a longtime fan of  Sandra Dallas, I would be hard pressed to find fault with anything she writes. She is a lovely person, and a terrific role model for a writer on a quest to produce worthy and worthwhile historical books and articles.

Prayers For Sale is enjoyable on many levels. It is appealing to those who savor great historical fiction and to those who simply relish a darn good read. Dallas does her usual outstanding job of characterization while weaving, or rather quilting, an intriguing and well-crafted story thread set in a Colorado mining camp. Themes of pioneer courage, friendship, mentoring, enduring love, and forgiveness enrich the story, provoking thought and delighting historical sensibilities. When I need inspiration, or I wish to be transported to an earlier time and place, Sandra Dallas always delivers. The story motivated me to resume my needlework, always a centering activity.

To learn more about Sandra Dallas, go to:

This coming Saturday, November 14, my writing path leads to the town of Elbert, on the plains southeast of Denver. Librarian Gayle Gresham has invited members of Women Writing the West to meet and greet the public at the Elbert Library Open House. Book displays and authors will be available between 1 and 3 p.m. in the public library, which shares space with the school library, at 24489 Main Street. Come out to Elbert to mingle with the authors and enjoy cider and cookies. Elbert Public Library is home of the Women Writing the West collection, over 100 books donated to their library by the non-profit national writing organization.

Joyce B. Lohse, 11/10/09

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Posted by on November 10, 2009 in Western history


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Boom Days Delivers

Nobody puts on a Western parade like Leadville, Colorado during Boom Days. This festival is a celebration of historic Leadville’s mining past as a boom town, at an elevation of 10,200 feet above sea level. The parade and festival, which take place during the first weekend in August, are the perfect excuse for the inner cowboy and cowgirl to come out and play in the cool, fresh mountain air. I was in town, with my traveling pard, Christie, not only for Boom Days, but also for a booksigning in the charming, independent Book Mine bookstore. I signed books along with another Women Writing the West member, Ann Parker, who writes mysteries set in Leadville. The whole day was splendid and a wonderful celebration of the Wild West. There seemed to be fewer horses and mules than usual in the parade, perhaps a nod to the tight economy. But it was fabulous in every other way.

It was a busy week for this western author. After traveling to Leadville on Saturday, Sunday found me at ParkerFest, at the Douglas County Library display, along with author Cynthia Becker. We had a great time, although the crowd was more interested in buying produce and crafts than biographies.

On Wednesday, I presented pioneer stories to the Longmont Genealogical Society. Talk about a wonderful group! We had a great time, and they were enthusiastic about my stories and books. I’ll return to Longmont any time.

Now, it is time for this cowgirl to stay closer to home and regroup, write some articles, do some research, and enjoy the rest of the summer. Bring on the good times, and some of those wonderful West Slope Colorado peaches!

Joyce Lohse, 8/15/09


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Posted by on August 15, 2009 in Western history


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Late Winter In Colorado

Late winter is a great time to touch history in Colorado. I recently rode up to the mining community of Fairplay with my research pal, Christie. It was a little cold and windy that day, but the sun was out, and so were we. The road took us up Buckskin Gulch, to the Alma Cemetery, for some righteous walking and tromping through the snow, and a good photo shoot.

This cemetery is special for its rich mining history and sense of individualism expressed through the various monuments, many homemade, among trees on a rugged, rocky mountainside. My article, “The Place Where Silverheels Danced” in last summer’s issue of “Women Out West” magazine tells the story of a local legend, a dance hall girl named Silverheels, who helped members of the community endure a smallpox epidemic. Her spirit lingers in the cemetery where she greets us with the jingle of nearby wind chimes. The air is crisp and fresh, a blast of vibrant life in the final resting place of pioneers.

Coming soon: On April 21, I will do a presentation about “Researching Cemeteries” at the Columbine Genealogical and Historical Society meeting at 1 p.m. in Centennial.

Joyce B. Lohse – 2/25/09

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Posted by on February 25, 2009 in Western history


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