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The real Leadville has been replaced

Letter from S. Roger Kirkpatrick

Leadville – January 1997 – Colorado Central Magazine


In your review of the book on Lost Landscapes you mention three towns that are still alive and well(?) even though they should not be from author Thomas Power’s perspective.

Of the 100-plus times I have been in Salida since 1983, I have noticed no real changes. I’m certain some locals would argue this point, but small and slow changes are not seen by outsiders.

It is a stretch to call Saguache a town. A wide place in the road or series of intersections might be more apt. But, if you insist, it is a seedy, rundown place with lots of empty buildings. Why? I don’t know. but it is not an example of success.

Actually, I am willing to concede both Salida and Saguache as being examples of places that have endured with minor changes over time.

Leadville is another matter. Leadville persists as a shadow of its pre-1983 self. No one who was in Leadville before 1983 would think it is doing okay. The irony is that those who only know it since say 1986 would think it is recovering and prospering!

The economy is no longer locally driven but is driven by Denverites, Texans, and the minimal wage workers of the ski resorts. Some of the lowest paid workers toil for some of the richest resorts and are, in fact, undocumented, used to be illegal, aliens who live in conditions that most would call substandard.

There are side effects such as becoming the junk car capital of Colorado, the substandard housing capital, the undocumented worker capital, and the list goes on.

My point is that while there is a town called Leadville, it is a new town and exists as such as opposed to what persists as the old Leadville.

S. Roger Kirkpatrick

Marietta, Ohio