What, you might ask, did Christmas look like in Leadville way back when? Let’s take a look.


Local workers spend the Christmas holiday constructing the frozen walls of the Leadville Ice Palace. According to the Herald, many destitute residents viewed employment as a present in itself. More than $5,000 in wages is distributed among the Ice Palace workers on Christmas Day.

The director general of the project also provides his employees a quarter day off: “The men were greatly elated over this pretty compliment, and it was a Christmas greeting that the workingmen will not soon forget. Had the work not been so urgent, Mr. Wood would have no doubt have given them the entire day,” the Herald reported.


Christmas shopping starts early in Leadville with Yuletide window decorations adorning storefronts and an abundance of snow lining Harrison Avenue. Ladies pin holly leaves to their dresses and gentlemen fasten sprigs to their front lapels. “These windows wear something different each day,” a little girl reportedly mused while gazing up at one of Leadville’s glittering storefronts.

Shopkeepers boast that the Christmas trade commenced earlier than ever before and with much fervor. “Either the purchaser’s taste is refining or prosperity counts,” said one clerk.


Leadville’s benevolent societies receive and dispense alms at the corner of Fourth Street and Harrison Avenue. The Relief Core and the Elks Lodge distribute clothing, provisions and money to more than 150 families.

The four prisoners incarcerated in the city jail are provided a good Christmas dinner. “For the time being everything will be done to make them forget their troubles and enjoy their Christmas,” the Herald wrote.


After months of restrictions on social gatherings due to the 1918 influenza, the board of health lifts public health regulations just in time for Christmas. Locals hold small dinner parties followed by dancing, and the Leadville Telephone Club hosts a Christmas tree party.


The Herald alerts residents that Santa Claus will spend the Sunday before Christmas in Cloud City before retiring to his cave on Mount Massive to catch up on sleep while his reindeer enjoy good pasturage. “Just what he will have in his bag nobody seems to know, but it is said that there is a fine crop of popcorn growing on his farm near North Poleville and that he brought a generous supply for the Leadville children,” the Herald wrote.


The fifth floor of the Tabor Opera House catches fire during a Christmas Eve production. Theatergoers are ushered out of the burning building by firemen who attempt to extinguish the fire in sub-zero weather.

“As the roaring flames added their brilliance to the dazzling incandescent glow of the theater many thousands of men, women and children in a last minute Christmas rush flocked to the scene to watch,” the Herald reported.


This year, our staff’s holiday message to you and yours comes in the form of an editor’s note published in the Herald on Dec. 25, 1897:

“We have reason to believe that nowhere is there greater reason for rejoicing and gratitude and hopefulness than here. Nowhere is there greater occasion for accepting the fullest and highest meaning of the Christmas message, ‘Peace. Good Will!’”

Rachel Woolworth

Herald Editor

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