History

It was silver, not gold, that brought riches to the lucky few in Leadville, but after the bottom dropped out of the silver market in 1893, the city took a serious nosedive. Other minerals kept Leadville alive, however, particularly after the discovery of molybdenum (atomic number 42), which was extremely popular in wartime as it helped to reinforce steel; Germany, Japan and the Soviet Union were the three biggest customers of Climax Mine during the 1930s. Unsurprisingly, the US government subsequently designated Climax (located atop Hwy 91 and still in operation) the nation's most important mine in the following decade.