As a historic biographer, my focus is writing about pioneer characters, which often takes me to places with a colorful past. When I researched and wrote my award-winning biography, Baby Doe Tabor: Matchless Silver Queen, my search for truth and information about The Tabors and their Matchless Mine took me to the nooks and crannies of Leadville’s mining district. Interestingly, the fun did not end once the book was published by Filter Press in 2011.
This June, I was invited by Bob Hartzell, former director of the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum in Leadville, to present the story of Elizabeth Tabor during a special event. After several emails and phone calls, plans were in place. Museum members were invited to a banquet to honor Mrs. Tabor followed by my PowerPoint presentation about the Tabors’ life in the boom town and my research findings. Guests were invited to wear period clothing, which motivated participants, including myself, to show off Victorian finery. A signed copy of my book was included at each place setting.
After the banquet, the group of twenty people drove cars to the shack at the Matchless Mine where Mrs. Tabor lived her final years. We shared more stories in the dimly lit cabin. Although we witnessed no supernatural occurrences, we felt strongly that Mrs. Tabor’s spirit was present.
The next morning, we met again at the Matchless Mine for a tour of the site. Our guide was retired geologist Fred Mark, a remarkable researcher who combined a passion for history with his professional knowledge and expertise in geology and mining. After hiking over some rough terrain to study the property, we returned to the restored headframe where I signed more books.
My weekend in Leadville, sharing stories with knowledgeable history buffs, was easily one of my most fun and fascinating experiences as a writer. Leadville is still working its magic, and I look forward to more adventures there.
For those who visit Leadville, 100 miles west of Denver, there are many historic attractions. Stop by the visitors’ center on Harrison Avenue to pick up brochures and maps, for current access, hours, and road conditions. They can provide directions for a walking tour in town as well.
HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS IN LEADVILLE:
- National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum – 120 W. 9th St., open year round
- Matchless Silver Mine and Baby Doe Tabor’s Cabin – 1 ¾ miles east on 7th St., open May-September
- Mineral Belt and Road of the Silver Kings – in California Gulch, site of Oro City’s ghost town and Tabor’s General Store, follow Monroe Street from Leadville
- Tabor Home Museum, home of Horace Tabor and his first wife, Augusta – 116 E. 5th St.
- Annunciation Church, where Elizabeth Tabor worshipped, at Poplar and East 7th St.
- Tabor Opera House, 308 Harrison Ave., open May-Oct, closed Sundays.
- Delaware Hotel – 700 Harrison Ave., built in 1886, offers various walking tours.
- Silver Dollar Saloon – 315 Harrison Ave. – built in 1879.
- Baby Doe Room in the Lake County Public Library, for quiet reading and
research among period antiques.
- Heritage Museum – 102 E. 9th St., – open May-Oct.
- Healy House & Dexter Cabin – 912 Harrison Ave., open May-Oct daily.
- Boom Days Festival – historic celebrations and parade – 1st weekend in August
Joyce B. Lohse is administrator for Women Writing the West. When she is not writing historical biographies, she enjoys lurking around in cemeteries and archives looking for stories.
Joyce B. Lohse – Centennial, Colorado