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

Settlement & Town Building:  Boom Town Building

During the first three years, Lake City progressed rapidly from settlement to town.  At first, most buildings consisted of crude, one-room log cabins with dirt roofs.  Tents sheltered many residents and a few businesses.  Larger log buildings functioned as businesses, boarding houses, and residences.  Lake City soon achieved a more permanent appearance.  "Log cabins are giving way to commodious frame buildings," announced the Silver World on September 11, 1875.

The town had 400 inhabitants with 67 buildings, several dozen more under construction, and "a new store opened every day."*  To meet the demand for building materials, four sawmills, a planing mill, a shingle mill, and a sash and door company were operating by 1876.

Availability of lumber products fueled the building boom and also encouraged improvements to existing buildings.  Property owners covered log buildings in clapboards, expanded with frame additions, and expanded log business buildings with false fronts.  Many early log huts were torn down or relegated to storage sheds.

The boom attracted statewide attention and produced a number of the extant buildings in the Lake City Historic District (42 of the properties within the district were built between 1874 and 1878).  Initial construction took place in somewhat random fashion, sometimes with little regard for lot lines or platted streets.

Town trustees remedied the helter skelter layout by passing ordinances around 1877 requiring that buildings infringing upon the street or sidewalk right of way be moved behind the legal property line.  The settlement took on the appearance of a town as streets were widened, trees planted, and ditches dug to provide water for trees and lawns and to fight fire.**

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*   The Silver World, September 25, 1875, 3.

**   Houston, Grant E.  Lake City Reflections.  Gunnison, CO, B&B Printers, 1999, first edition 1976, 42.
 Town of Lake City, PO Box 544, Lake City, CO  81235.  970-944-2333.  
Burro train with lumber by Harry H. Buckwalter.  Click image for larger pop-up view.
Lake City, Hinsdale County.  Photo detail from a stereoview card, Robert N. Dennis Collection of Stereoscopic Views, New York Public Library.  Click image for larger pop-up view.