Colorado Gold Rush: Mining in Leadville

Today you are going back to the time of the Colorado Gold Rush. By the end of the day, some of you may be millionaires…and some of you may be dead.

So begins our Time Travel Field Trip to 1859. It’s unlike any history lecture, textbook or presentation you’ve ever seen. Why?

History is so often taught as a fait accompli, something where the conclusion is already known, something that happened a long time ago to other people.

This is different. Click on the links to learn more.

Colorado Gold Rush: Mining in Leadville focuses on:

  • Key economics concepts applied to real situations from Colorado’s past.
  • How did mining change Colorado? Financial, political, geographical and environmental impacts
  • Panning for gold and choosing the best claim on the river
  • Frontier justice: punishments for crimes in the mining towns
  • Boom and bust cycles
  • Deep rock mining
  • Life in the Wild West town of Leadville (they drugged your drink, took all your money, and stole your boots!)
  • Opportunity cost of getting a loan to stake a deep rock claim
  • Choose to get rich through owning a shop or continuing to mine (three millionaires in Leadville earned their money by “mining the miners”)


  • (S.1-GLE.1-RA.1) Individuals recognize important events and can put them in chronological in order to understand cause and effect such as discovery of gold and the Gold Rush.
  • (S.1-GLE.2-EO.d) Describe the impact of various technological developments. Topics to include but not limited to the state of Colorado, including changes in mining technology.
  • (S.1-GLE.2-RA.2) Technological developments continue to evolve and affect the present. For example, environmental issues have had an impact on Colorado from the Gold Rush to modern pollution.
  • (S.3-GLE.1-EO.a) How and why did Colorado become a state? What economic incentives brought people to Colorado?
  • (S.3-GLE.1-EO.b) The realities and impact of the Colorado Mining Industry.
  • (S.2-GLE.1-IQ.2) What advancements in Colorado’s mining technology have affected the economy? Why did settlements and large cities develop where they did in Colorado?
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