Despite the weather still clinging to winter, we’ve reached the summer season. The big one. And businesses are more than ready to feel the onslaught of tourists, even if they won’t be heading over Independence Pass in our direction quite yet. Twin Lakes folks will have to wait a while longer.
In any case, we’d like to remind everyone that this is the perfect time to promote Leadville’s unique history along with the goods and services that are being offered.
Many businesses already do this, and restaurants head the list. First to come to mind are the Pastime Bar and the Golden Burro restaurant. A patron doesn’t leave these places without a good dose of Leadville history through the menu or other means.
If your business is located in the historic district, you have something to sell. Some of our tourists come to Leadville specifically to see the historic buildings, especially those lining Harrison Avenue. A frequent scene is an out-of-towner heading down the avenue with a Heritage Guide in hand checking out the history of the buildings. We watch as tourists stand in the middle of the avenue in order to get a good shot of this building or that, often risking life and limb. As far as we know, we haven’t lost any in this manner, but we’ve seen some near misses.
So our question to you is whether you and your staff know the history of your building. That’s step one in getting ready for the season. Judging from our experience at the Herald, people often want to know a bit more about downtown buildings.
The Herald building has a special history, but probably no more special that the histories of other buildings in town (except, of course, to us). We were built as a mortuary and we look like one. Death was a big business in the early days of Leadville. It was simply difficult to stay alive up here, especially through the brutal winters. Then there were the gunfights . . .
The Herald has been at its present location since 1924, and we especially like giving tours of the basement including the old press. It’s fun to give visitors a little extra they didn’t expect.
The retail shop of the Trail 100 is the same place where Doc Holliday shot his last man, Billy Allen. This is one of our more famous gunfights, and businesses occupying that building over the years have promoted that information. Yes, it’s in the Heritage Guide but people seem to want to know a bit more. They always seem disappointed that Billy Allen didn’t die, however.
The former post office, now city hall, seems to add more historic artifacts every time we go there. This is a case of taking advantage of the past, even though people don’t normally go to city hall and spend money.
Even the newer structures in town often occupy the location of former historic buildings, many of which were destroyed in fires. Sometimes those fires were photographed, and copies can be obtained from the Lake County Public Library and might make a window display. “At this location . . .”
Perhaps some day, as has happened in the past, we’ll all have plaques or even printed notices for our windows that explain our history. This could be a project of Main Street or the Historic Preservation Commission.
In any case, the museums are open, the snow is almost melted, and we all get to experience summertime in Leadville once again.