In the late 1800's, transportation of goods and people could be an arduous undertaking.
Gold and silver fever led many to endure travel up the Arkansas River from Canon City to Leadville.
Although arguably the largest and most notorious, Leadville was far from the only mining camp in the Upper Arkansas Valley.
Small communities sprouted up and down the Arkansas River and its tributaries where thousands of mine claims produced silver, gold and other ores.
Nearby historic Vicksburg and Winfield tell their own stories of mining's boom days.
Granite was itself the center of a rich mining district and the supply point for the Clear Creek district to the west.
By 1891 its population had reached 400 and was still growing.
Granite also boosted two stamp mills running at full capacity to process local gold ore.
The Call that Started it All
In the Spring of 1860, prospector Abe Lee hollered, "I've got all of California right here in my pan!"
In a heartbeat, thousands flocked to "California Gulch" for their share.
Although it only lasted 6 years, the local gold rush was replaced in 1877 with one of the richest and most famous silver districts in the world. Leadville alone produced $700 million of the precious metal.
The railroad arrived in 1880 and by 1882 Leadville was at its peak. The estimated population was over 50,000, including outlaws and millionaires.
Silver baron Horace Tabor earned his fortune there and the tragic story of Elizabeth "Baby Doe" Tabor unfolded on Leadville's streets.
The infamous dentist-turned-gambler-and-gunslinger Doc Holliday spent time in the area in the 1880's, as did Susan B. Anthony, Frank and Jessie James, Oscar Wilde, Buffalo Bill and Texas Jack Omahundro.
(PLASS-er or PLES-er) is the mining of alluvial deposits - deposits of sand and gravel in modern or ancient streambeds - for minerals.
"Panning for gold" is a type of placer mining familiar to many people.
Many precious metals (most often gold) and gemstones are found in alluvial deposits, moved by stream flow from their original source.
Evacuation of the deposits is done through open-pit mining or by various methods of tunneling into riverbeds.