The Herald Democrat
100 Years Ago
Leadville: A Prose Poem
Sunday, April 10, 1921
“And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything. I would not change it.”
— “As You Like It,” William Shakespeare
“Leadville!” What a word! Stand in awe before it! For indicating as it does that lead is found in its environs, it means that the products of this wonderful city find their way into all the activities of human life, and play a not unimportant part.
Did it ever occur to you what a blessing to mankind lead really is? Did you ever stop to ponder that by the utilization of lead, converted into type and spread on the pages of reading matter, that the banker is informed of the conditions of the world’s financial structure, of the inflation and deflation of its moneys, of the reserve of gold behind its circulating medium; the agriculturist learns of the condition of the world’s crops, the probabilities of the weather that affects them, the movement to and from the primary markets, and the world’s consumption of his products; the people of a government learn of the doings of those in whom they have entrusted their leadership; the public learns of every condition and phase of human life, the inflection and deflection, the rise and fall of this, that and the other thing that directly or indirectly concerns them; and people of earth are brot into closer union, a better understanding of each other, all thru the utilization of lead in the matter of a vehicle for conveyance of thought. Truly, Leadville, in giving to the world such a metal, is doing a real service to mankind.
Lead is of course a “substance,” and substance is something that cannot be destroyed; therefore, dear old Leadville will live on forever.
And now let’s play a little with words. Let’s find another definition of Leadville. Could it be called “Lead-ville?” “Lead-ville,” to be sure, means a village (or city if you please) that leads. And cannot this, in many respects, apply to our own dear little city? Another interpretation of the word might be found by making it the “goal” of enterprise. In other words, a locality for which we set out that “leads” us on. So, all in all we have a very pleasing and very proper little city up here on the crest of the earth.
Shakespeare’s words, quoted above, came to me as I started on the Colorado & Southern train out of Denver with Leadville as my goal. I was being led to Leadville. Before leaving Denver, word had been passed that the scenic route up the hillside would be quite pleasing to the eye. I found it all of this, and also quite pleasing to the mind.
As our little train gurgled its way up the mountainside and panorama after panorama was opened to view, huge boulders, perpendiculars, horizontals, etc., passed into view. Then, almost unknown to me, came the thot of “stubbornness.”
The rugged, unyielding, cumbersome stones reminded me of the ordinary human consciousness, and the little train, braving all and chugging steadily on, brot to my mind the straight and narrow road of directed conscience. There all about me were the pitfalls, the temptations, the harshness of the ordinary mortals’ daily travel; but moving steadily on and on, upward and upward, was the little patch of good that is resident in every human being. By sticking to the road cheerfully, deliberately, and with proper fuel administered at given intervals, the little engine is brot to the summit. I thot, how wonderful it all is! All one has to do to reach the heights of developed character is to emulate the example of that patient little train. It did not pull itself onto an elevator to be propelled to the heights by an exterior power, nor did it stand at the bottom of the mountainside and wish itself on top. “Lead-ville” was its destination, and it set out to reach there. True it is that it did not always climb. It met each obstacle that it encountered, and be it said to its credit, it surmounted each one. At times it descended slightly, but always it gathered renewed strength for the larger climb, and always it plugged faithfully on. Finally, over at Boreas pass it reached the height, and what found it? All about everything was panoplied in snow — emblematic of purity.
So, dear folks, Nature has given you every incentive for forward movement and every reason to be proud of dear old “Lead-ville.”
It is a good thing for “brethren to dwell together in unity.”