Christopher James 288 pages hardcover
In the late 19th century, railroads and mining were the linchpins of Colo- rado's economy. Nowhere was this more evident than around the booming town of Leadville. In 1880, when over $14 million of silver was pulled from the mines, two narrow gauge railroads reached the town. It wasn't easy.To get to Leadville, the Denver & Rio Grande first had to defeat the Santa Fe railroad in the great Royal Gorge War. The Denver South Park & Pacific had to build over two mountain passes and survive financial strife. By 1887, a third railroad, the Colorado Midland had surveyed and built the first standard gauge railroad into the Rockies. It not only served Leadville but crossed the Sawatch Range with some of the most spectacular railroad engineering ever attempted. Together, these three railroads helped make Leadville one of the most famous mining camps in the world. First silver, then gold, lead and zinc, and finally molybdenum kept the railroads and the town alive until, one by one, each railroad fell to the automobile and the changing world of mining. In 1988, a new railroad, the Leadville Colorado & Southern, building upon the ghosts of the past, began carrying Leadville passengers over a right-of-way that was built in 1884. Silver Rails is the story of Leadville's railroads, then and now, and the town they helped build.