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A Brief History of Lake City:
The Mining Era, 1874-1904

Gold & Silver Booms in Colorado

Discovery and extraction of precious metals was a major impetus for settling the American West, beginning with the California gold rush in 1849 and continuing when gold was discovered on Colorado's Front Range in 1858.

As prospectors fanned out into the mountains, they struck a number of placer deposits that became centers for small settlements.  Some of these 1860s settlements evolved into towns, including Gold Hill and Jamestown in Boulder County; Black Hawk and Central City in Gilpin County; Idaho Springs, and Georgetown in Clear Creek County; Fairplay in Park County; Breckenridge in Summit County and Oro City in Lake County, which became Leadville in subsequent years.

Onset of the Civil War and depletion of the most accessible ore deposits brought on a slump in mining from 1861 through the late 1860s.  In their search for gold veins, prospectors encountered silver deposits that gave rise to a silver boom that lasted from the late 1870s through 1893.

This silver boom created the mining towns of Silver Plume (1870), Caribou (1872), Leadville (1877), Crested Butte (1878), Telluride, (1878), Silver Cliff (1878), Aspen (1880), and Westcliffe (1881).  Colorado's last major silver rush took place in 1891 - 1893 at Creede, 55 miles south of Lake City. 

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 Town of Lake City, PO Box 544, Lake City, CO  81235.  970-944-2333.  
"Strapped" Miner.  Detail of a stereoview photograph taken by William Henry Jackson in Colorado in 1874.  Photo courtesy United States Geological Survey Photographic Library.  Click on photo to view large pop-up version.