Thursday, August 10, 2006

How I Spent My Summer Vacation -- Chapter 2

As mentioned in the previous post, Madame X and I planned our trip to Leadville, Colo., to coincide with the city's major summer festival, Boom Days. In the late 19th century, Leadville was a mining "boom town" -- with a population larger than Denver's at the same time.

The state of Colorado selected Boom Days for documentation and preservation by the U.S. Library of Congress as a Local Legacy of national interest.

At its peak, in the late 19th century, Leadville was home to 20,000 to 40,000 residents. Today, its population is less than 3,000, but with its healthy tourist trade and county seat status it "feels" larger than that. Many of the tiny wood-frame homes once occupied by miners -- many of them in rough shape -- are commanding high prices on the real estate market (compared to Dubuque), with many priced over $100,000). By the way, the 1,000-square-foot, two-bedroom, one bath home pictured lists for $148,000.

The festival included a parade -- it lasted about 90 minutes -- mining competitions, short- and long-distance burro races (runners pull, or be pulled by, burros), food and craft booths and various other competitions (pie-eating, road race, "moseying" in Old West garb, etc.) The long-distance burro race starts in Leadville (already above 10,000 feet) and goes UP into the rough roads of the Mosquito Pass. The race is 22 miles -- 15 miles for the ladies -- and it is grueling enough without having to remain tethered to a burro!

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