Home Table of Contents Sample Chapter Author
Sierra Grande Press, P.O. Box 658, Sandia Park, New Mexico 87047 • silverrails@sierragrandepress.com

 

 

Order Reviews Return to all reviews
Silver Rails: The Railroads of Leadville, Colorado by Christopher James Review by Bob Brown I always look forward to a new book about Colorado mines, ghost towns, or railroads—and I couldn't wait to get my review copy of this new book on Leadville and its railroads. I was not disappointed. The new book is beautifully designed and printed on good quality paper, with some 400 photos, reproductions of maps, painting, engravings, and railroad ephemera—many never published before. While many of the maps are reproductions of old maps, there are numerous maps especially drawn for this book. So many, that I will keep my copy handy for fact checking. The book tells the story of Leadville, its people, and the laborers, railroaders, empire builders and angry stockholders who endured avalanches, fires, accidents, financial ruin and even murder to build and operate the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe, Denver & Rio Grande, Denver South Park & Pacific and the Colorado Midland in the Leadville area. There is even a list of some 43 "paper" railroads in the area that were never built. I found the railroad and mining ephemera especially interesting. I always like to see reproductions of maps, schedules, menus and wine lists in a book. These items give me the feel for the era. I can't resist mentioning my favorite reproduction in the chapter on Leadville's entertainments. It shows a token given out by a Ms. Laura Evens. Around the edge of the token are the words Leadville, Colorado, Laura Evens. In the center are printed "EAT DRINK DANCE GO TO BED OR GET OUT." There are also two hearts on the face of the token, just in case an illiterate miner did not get the message. The 16 chapters, plus an Epilogue, Appendix, Bibliography, Notes, Timeline of Leadville's Railroad History and an Index, describe the prehistory of Leadville, the discovery of silver, the scramble to get to the silver, the "war" for Leadville and the Royal Gorge, the processing of silver, the arrival of the standard gauge Colorado Midland, the 20th Century and the Great Depression, the mining of molybdenum, a run of Extra 76 to Climax, and the story of a couple who bought a railroad for $10 and turned it into the present day Leadville Colorado & Southern. Al this with several paintings and a beautiful cover photo of Colorado & Southern #76 taking water at the Climax water tank. Oh, and did I mention, the end papers with maps of the D&RG Leadville yard and the Arkansas Valley Smelter with its D&RG tracks? This is a beautiful book, well worth adding to your library of Colorado material.