Local Business

“Farewell to the Hat” Party in Leadville Today

By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today

You  might want to pull up a bar-stool for this one, as there’s some saloon news in Leadville Today that could put a few tears in your beer. The Manhattan Bar – aka the Hat – has been sold, with its new owner taking possession on June 1.  So to commemorate the occasion, the Cerises and bar-crew are holding a “Farewell to the Hat” party today, Saturday, May 26, from noon to 8 p.m.

Manhattan Bar Reflections _Danielle Orcutt

It’s time to reflect on the past 40 years of the Manhattan Bar, as the end of an era draws to a close, with new owners taking possession June 1. Photo: Leadville Today/Danielle Orcutt.

This latest chapter in the Manhattan’s story started in 1974 when the Cerises (Wally Sr. & Dave) opened Buckhorn Sporting Goods, a Leadville mainstay located in the retail space next to the bar, providing camping and fishing gear to locals and tourists. Then in 1978, the Cerises bought the entire Manhattan building, which includes the two commercial spaces at street level, as well as the 4 upstairs apartments.

The bar, which originally opened in 1943, took its name from the mining claim that bore the same, and whose profitable strikes provided the construction funds for the building, which dates back to 1888. But 40 years ago, it was a red-headed entrepreneur named Dave Cerise who took over running the Manhattan Bar, while his 21-year-old younger brother Mike ran the sporting goods shop next door.

Manhattan Buckhorn

This photo from the late 1990s shows the Buckhorn Sporting Goods shop next door to Leadville’s famous Manhattan Bar. Photo: Leadville Today file photo.

Of course, in the late 1970s, America’s highest city was rocking and rolling from Moly production. Businesses like the Hat were open nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, ebbing and flowing to the work schedule at the Climax Mine, which was running three shifts, 24/7. Lake County’s cash cow was extracting some of the world’s purest-grade Molybdenum in a 20th century method that had payrolls – and Leadville bars – packed.

Most watering holes saw a steady stream of customers, however the Hat was slowly becoming a magnet for the leather-wearing, Harley-riding crowd. And on any given Saturday throughout the 1990s, the parking spaces out front hosted a long-line of motorcycles, a somewhat intimidating sight to some passersby.

Yes, these were bikers, albeit bikers of a different kind than the ones Leadville sees today. They smoked, they drank, and they used bad language. But underneath those leather exteriors were political activists, as the Hat became the unofficial headquarters of A.B.A.T.E. (A Brother Active Toward Education), advocating for motorcyclists’ rights. The Hat has always been the working folks bar; here’s where you’ll find your builders, your pipe-fitters, your truck drivers.

In fact, when it comes to “community updates” this corner bar is usually a more accurate news source than the word of a local politician or spin-doctor. The regulars at the Hat can tell you the economic pulse of this mountain community better than any survey. Who is hiring and where? Who can’t make payroll? And most importantly, who is buying the round, cause he’s the guy with money in the bank!?!

In 1990, there were more red-headed bar owners in Leadville than anywhere else in the country. And at the corner of 7th and Harrison, you could find that bar’s “ginger” in perpetual motion. Dave Cerise, while slight in stature, was a man on the move, hauling buckets of ice, restocking the coolers or breaking up a bar brawl between two burly bikers. And this red-head was far from the fiery, temper-driven tavern owners that could be found a bit further down the avenue. Dave was friendly, quick-witted and in the end, a peace-maker.  

But by the turn of the century, the Hat’s reputation as Leadville’s dive bar grew with each drug bust, bar brawl and domestic dispute. Note: I clearly remember one such disagreement which happened just a couple of barstools down, that involved a leveled shot gun to the back of a patron’s head from a disgruntled, misunderstood wife. No shots were fired, but shots of whiskey certainly were taken after the incident was resolved in a more civilized manner.

During these darker years, one guide book described the Hat as follows: “Manhattan Bar, Leadville. A bar of rather dubious reputation, it nonetheless is one of the more well-known establishments. Most know it by its nickname.”

And while a new millennium carried with it the promise of an improved Leadville economy, the truth was that times were still tough, and many of the Hat’s patron’s were not seeing regular work. As the beer and whiskey went down, the number of unpaid bar tabs went up.

But the Cerises pushed on and kept the neon light burning bright. The Hat had became a misfit harbor for those with no place to go over the holidays, as Dave’s wife Carla would put out a bountiful Thanksgiving feast. The pool table in the back was adorned for the occasion, with side dishes consisting of wild mushrooms gathered from the woods, in addition to cranberry sauce, and more elk and venison than bird, depending on how the hunting season went.

During festival weekends, The Manhattan is standing-room-only, as the crowd streams in and out, after parades or in between ski joring runs. And because of its corner location, patrons have had to endure interactions with an ass or two when a burro fails to make that the hard right turn onto W. 7th  Street during the annual Boom Days Burro Races. The Hat is the place for reunions with old friends, as the conversations and rounds run well into the night, spilling out on to Harrison like the neon glow from its dominate sign on the Avenue.


If The Boom Days Burro Racers. can make it around that first course obstacle – The Manhattan Bar – then they usually have a pretty good chance of coming back home to Leadville. More than one ass was found its way into this corner bar over the years.

And who can forget, when in 2004 Hollywood came calling, with the announcement that Leadville’s downtown strip would be featured in the movie “Silver City.” Remember that incredibly costly sheet-medal sleeve that the director had custom-made to run up the entire length of the 30 foot, neon sign? Its temporary emblazoned letters read: “El Rincon,” which loosely translated in Spanish means “corner bar.” Rent the movie, and it’s easy to see how flawlessly the Hat played its role as the corner bar for migrant workers. Unfortunately, the film’s reception at the box office was about as endearing as the local’s response to El Rincon’s meager 15-second appearance in the movie. All that time in making the El Rincon sign, all that money spent, for a fleeting feature in the film! Alas, Hollywood and America’s corner bar may never see things from the same perspective, but it sure was fun have the movie stars hang out in Leadville’s own version of Manhattan.

Sadly, that neon signed dimmed a bit in January 2014 with the passing of Dave Cerise. Dave was the Hat’s backbone, its boss-man, he was the place where the buck stopped, along with many a Budwesier!

Since then, his brother Mike, and wife Sherry have taken over the bar’s ownership, with a reluctance that has been (fortunately) over-shadowed by their loyalty to long-time bartenders like Sam and Silver. They have kept the place open, providing jobs for people. Besides, why shouldn’t they hold out for the opportunity to get back at least part of their family’s investment after 40 years?

So when the news came about the sale – which officially takes place June 1 – it was hard not to be happy for the Cerises. It’s no easy task owning a bar on Harrison Avenue. Many think it is, and many have come and gone! But after 4 decades in the bar business, you look back, and that’s a life. So, a sincere thank you to the family and bartenders for putting up with all the beer-drinking rowdies through the years. Congratulations on the sale, and all the best to the Cerises!

Manhattan_Mike Cerise

The Manhattan Bar’s current owner Mike Cerise sits at the corner bar his family has owned and operated for 40 years on historic Harrison Avenue in Leadville, Colorado.

Unfortuantely for many of the Hat’s regulars, that may be the only good thing about the sale of their corner bar. Only time will tell how it goes with the new owner. Will the red-neck wind chimes remain? What will happen to the hen house? And what about the reasonably-priced upstairs apartments; will four more workforce residents be kicked to the curb for another Air B&B?

The word on the curb is that “nothing will change.” At least that’s what they were told in an employee meeting (!), the first, sure sign that the gentrification process has begun! Alas, back in the day, an “employee meeting” at the Hat  consisted of a shot of whiskey in between shifts, followed by a brief overview: “There’s a check in the register for the Coors delivery, and tell Larry no more credit until he’s paid off his tab.”

But for today, it’s time to tell your Manhattan story. The party starts at noon and will include their famous pool table buffet. Come, join the celebration, as glasses are raised up high, in a grand toast to our beloved Manhattan Bar:

“Before we end and then, begin, we’ll drink a toast to how it’s been! Cheers to the Hat!”  

The Manhattan Bar is located at 618 Harrison Avenue, on the corner. You may also connect with them on The Manhattan Facebook Page.

The Leadville Marketplace: Saturday’s Discount

Framed by Colorado’s two highest peaks – Mt. Elbert (left) and Mt. Massive (right), Saturday’s Discount in Leadville offers convenient shopping from gas and groceries to liquor, and now an expanded sporting goods section. Photo: Leadville Today/Kathy Bedell

When it comes to shopping for food in Lake County, the landscape is changing – again. As residents and visitors become increasingly frustrated with ongoing public health concerns at Leadville’s primary grocery store, the smaller retail outlets have been actively responding to consumer demands, expanding their offerings. In this new series, The Leadville Marketplace, readers will be brought up-to-date on what’s in the kitchen cupboard in Leadville Today. Remember, as a consumer, where you spend your hard-earned dollars can often be your best tool in affecting change and accountability in your community, particularly when it comes to food safety.

Saturday’s Discount: Yesterday and Today

By Kathy Bedell, © Leadville Today

From the outside, it’s hard to miss the nearly 8,000 square foot retail anchor on the south end of town. But if you haven’t stepped inside Saturday’s Discount in a while you might be very, pleasantly surprised. After more than two years at the helm, owners Jim & Meredith Spesock have demonstrated the hard work and dedication it takes to run Leadville’s second-in-command when it comes to retail business.

But first, here’s some history. Who can forget when Saturday’s Discount founder Frank Nickel first starting talking about, and then constructing, “that giant building” south of town. It was July 2001 and few had his vision when it came to growing Leadville’s economy. As a keen businessman, Nickel knew that by building Saturday’s at that location he would capture the passing traveler, looking to stock up on gas and snacks for their road trip. However, it was his commitment to the nearby Lake Fork Trailer Park community that laid the groundwork for the well-worn foot-path that quickly formed between retailer and loyal customer. 


Saturday’s offers an exapneded selection of groceries for residents and travelers.

Each year, things grew – a little bit here, a little bit there, with the retailer responding to customer suggestions, as well as keeping things current and modern. After 13 years in business, Frank had built a sustainable, successful store, but at this stage in his life, he was also looking to sell, in order to spend more time with family. While Nickel’s first attempt at retirement resulted in a “boomerang” sale in 2014, the present-day owners – since April 1, 2016 – seem to be the right fit, as the retail anchor heads into another record-breaking year.

“We’ve run out of floor space,” explained owner Meredith Spesock during a recent tour of the business. “So now we’re going up,” she added pointing to the towering display of souvenir t-shirts. And so, it seems, are store’s sales, with a growing percent of that being grocery items.

“We have an entire freezer dedicated to Scanga products,” Spesock said, referring to the popular meat products that come from a family ranch located south of Leadville. Shoppers can also find a decent selection of dairy products from milk, to cheese and eggs. And while it may not be a full produce department, Saturday’s does keep bananas, potatoes, onions, tomatoes and more in stock. In fact, families can find many of the items they need to get by, in between their regular grocery shopping trips.

And even though the Spesocks still consider Saturday’s to be a “convenience” store, their list of offerings is growing and changing all the time, from gas and propane, to liquor and grocery, to auto and hardware, there’s not much you won’t find, just ask!


Saturday’s owners Jim & Meredith Spesock continue to make a solid footprint in the Lake County retail landscape. Photo: Leadville Today.

However, what may come as a surprise to many shoppers can be found a bit further back in the big, boxy building. Saturday’s has expanded their sporting goods selection to now include the sale of firearms and ammunition. They carry a good selection of handguns and rifles, along with the accessories.

“We received our Federal Firearm License in early spring,” stated Jess Ruble who manages the back counter in a friendly, knowledgeable manner, but with a full understanding and respect for the regulatory guidelines and agencies that manage firearm sales.

And while the guns are a welcome, unmet addition for local sportsmen, any guess as to what is their number one seller? Gold pans! During the summer months they can hardly keep them on the shelves, as that yellow fever strikes just about every tourist once they’ve heard the rags-to-riches stories.  

Saturday's_Jess ruble_Guns

Jess Ruble discusses the new selection of firearms available at Saturday’s Dsicount located south of Leadville Today.

But the true “Eureka!” might just be heard from Saturday’s remodeled liquor department, offering beer, wine and spirits. The Spesocks have responded to customer’s changing tastes and now sell a variety of microbrews, along with a special section highlighting just Colorado products. Good selection, great prices. 

Still, with all the upgrades, it’s nice to know that some things don’t change.  The giant, mural tribute to fall Leadville Marine Nick Palmer is still on full display at the retailer.

“A lot of people stop and take pictures with it,” stated Meredith, which prompted them to move the sizeable art piece down to the floor so that folks could see it up close. It’s nice to know that some folks #neverforget, not only those who have served their country, but also those that they continue to serve, day in day out in Leadville Today.  

That’s going to do it for this first piece in The Leadville Marketplace series. Be sure to stop into Saturday’s Discount, check out all the new upgrades and changes, and then let LT know about your experience. Remember, as a consumer you do have options in Lake County.

Saturday’s Discount is located south of Leadville at 12655 US Highway 24, across from the Little Red School. Saturday’s is open seven days a week. 719-486-5700.


Brianna Graham is ready to serve you up a Hunt Brohers Pizza – or wings – from the hot-and-ready parlor located inside Saturday’s Discount south of Leadville. Photo: Leadville Today.

Community Threads: Tying Leadville Together  


Community Threads, Leadville’s Thrift & Consignment Shop has expanded its business in a new location at 609 Harrison Avenue in downtown Leadville. Owner Mark “Smokey” Burgess is ready to take your used sporting equipment for consignment and your hard, cold cash for a variety of other wares he sells, from clothing to gift items. Photo: Leadville Today/Kathy Bedell.

By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today

If you’ve been around Leadville for any length of time, chances are you know Smokey. And if you don’t know the man, then you may be familiar with Community Threads, Leadville’s Thrift & Consignment Shop, created by Mark “Smokey” Burgess eight years ago.

In the great tradition of countless business owners before him, Smokey has been pedaling his goods and wares on historic Harrison Avenue for years.  Add to that his modern-day, grub-staking approach, more commonly known as consignment, and you have a recipe for success that has grown into a bigger, new location. So take note, shoppers and vendors! It’s an “on-your-left,” for cyclists, runners and burro racers, as the retail-and-trail guru can now be found at the new Community Threads location at 609 Harrison Avenue in downtown Leadville. Colo.

Fortunately, outdoor enthusiasts won’t have to venture very far from the old digs, to find some of the best, used sporting equipment, new and re-purposed clothing, and local and state gift goodies all gathered in one spot. Community Threads keeps it pretty simple, and maybe that adds to the store’s sustained success in a town that sees businesses come and go with the seasons. Besides, Smokey has a secret weapon that keeps his threads tied to the community.Community Threads logo

“People make money off of me!” Burgess said in a recent interview with Leadville Today. “I write a lot of checks to people!”  

In fact, the consignment portion of his business has grown substantially over the years. And for locals, that can be a lifeline for keeping the bills paid, especially during the “off-season,” in a mountain town where it could be weeks in between paychecks.

“People will come in and ask, do I have anything on my (consignment) account?” says Burgess, who then answers, “Yes, you have $25. And they’ll be like, ‘yes, gas money!’”

It’s a business approach that bodes well in this legendary mining community. After all, the famous Horace and Augusta Tabor, Leadville’s first storekeepers, used that same model, providing early prospectors with enough food, equipment and whiskey for a month, to try their luck at mining. Of course, this old west form of consignment saw a sizeable kick back to the Tabors when the prospectors hit pay-dirt, attributing to a large portion of their wealth.

But all dreams start small and grow over time, whether you’re a Burgess or a Tabor. Smokey explains the humble beginnings of Community Threads:

Community Threads_Ladies Apparel_Leadville Today

Gently used sporting goods and clothing is what you’ll find at Community Threads, Consignment & Thrift now located at 609 Harrison Avenue in downtown Leadville.

“I was working out at the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center, and one afternoon I was skiing with Brian Feddema (owner of Leadville’s bike shop, Cycles of Life). He said he was moving the bike shop, and I was like, ‘Wow, so that space will be open? That’s a great spot to start a business.’”

It was 2009 and Burgess was tired of working for other people. So with a small savings, along with some help and encouragement from an old girlfriend, Community Threads opened its doors across the street from the Lake County Courthouse. Smokey planned and modeled his new business after a used-gear shop that he frequented in Gunnison, Colo.

Like many Pb-Bizs, the start-up phase was filled with lessons learned and countless challenges. But as the eight years ticked by, the front-and-center store location had not only become a major retail player on the avenue, but also a gathering place for trail runners and baby-strolling mamas, all sharing information about course conditions and the news of the day.

It may come as a surprise to some, but Burgess is more than just the consignment-shop-guy. In fact, Smokey is quite comfortable on the winner’s podium concerning any number of athletic challenges, his most recent passions leaning towards Burro Racing. This dynamic duo of retail-and-trail knowledge puts Smokey’s successful business formula at the top of the charts for anyone considering hanging an OPEN sign in Leadville Today.  It’s really not that complicated, but like most things, follow-though and putting one’s proverbial nose-to-the-grindstone are just the entrepreneurial facts of life.


Leadville’s Mark “Smokey” Burgess gets cheered across the finish line by several of man’s best friends during a 2014 Snowshoe race. Photo: Pedal Power

By 2017, Community Threads had expanded considerably, even breaking through to the rarely used former banquet space, originally occupied by the Chinese restaurant. However, even that added retail area could not keep up with the growing demand.

“I had to start turning away a lot of great gear for consignment,” said Burgess, discussing the reason behind his recent re-location to 609 Harrison Avenue. And while further expansion was one of the motivators for the recent move, it wasn’t the only catalyst. In fact, it may have been last summer’s red-hot real estate market that created the tipping point.

While it was only last month that the historic Emmett Building (the shop’s former location) officially sold to a new owner, prior to that, an unreasonable jump in tax assessment had the former owner jacking-up everybody’s rent. From the commercial, street-level spaces, to the residential units on the second floor, the speculative sticker shock had arrived on Harrison Avenue.

And while that situation has (slightly) corrected itself, it was that determination by the Lake County Assessor’s office, explains Burgess, which set into motion a series of events that had Smokey keeping his eye out for a different location to house his burgeoning thrift & consignment shop.

Community Threads New Location

Stop in to Community Threads at its new location at 609 Harrison Avenue.

“Even though I really didn’t want to move, I knew I had to take advantage of it,” Burgess said, sharing one of the endless decisions today’s business owners have to make. And while he did initially consider the 609 address, at that point “it wasn’t an option for what they were asking.” However, with a little rent negotiation assistance from Mike Bordogna with the Leadville/Lake County Economic Development Corporation, the deal was sealed. Although with hindsight, Community Threads may have been destined to be in its new location all along.

It was early morning, in late October when LT met up with Smokey in his new location. He was finishing up some interior painting. However, that was not the first time he had done that same chore, on those exact walls. Back then, it was for his friend, and business mentor Fritz Howard, owner of one of Leadville’s most successful home-grown businesses, Melanzana.

In fact, many may remember when the “soulful,” micro-fiber manufacturer was housed right there at 609, for years.

“I painted this for him when he was moving Melanzana in here,” Smokey reminisced. “I told Fritz, ‘You’ll never fill this space up!’ And two years later he was full.”

More than likely, that same sentiment will be echoed about Community Threads, as the new retail space doubles its size! And while that’s good for business, and good for Smokey, it’s also real good for Leadville, and all of its Community Threads.

Congratulations, Smokey! #AllTheBest in your new location and the #NextChapter!

Mark “Smokey” Burgess lives in Leadville with his wife Erin Farrow who is an Art Teacher in the Leadville schools, contributing her own beautiful talents to Leadville Today. Community Threads is located at 609 Harrison Avenue in downtown Leadville. They are open Monday – Thursday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Readers can connect on Facebook, or by phone at 719-486-4000.

In The Ville Head Shot

Writer Kathy Bedell owns The Great Pumpkin, A Media Company located in Leadville, Colorado which publishes LeadvilleToday.com and SaguacheToday.com. She may be reached at info@leadvilletoday.com. She moved to Leadville as a journalist in 1990.

Monks Blessed Land in Leadville on Monday

Monks in Leadville

On a beautiful late summer evening a small group joined Rev. Lisa Giroux (right of Monks) and her husband Jeff (left) as they welcomed a group of Tibetan Monks to provide a Land Blessing for the property the couple purchased on Highway 91 North of Leadville, formerly known as the Hitchin Post Motel. New plans are in the works, story below. Photo: Leadville Today/Kathy Bedell

Land Blessing by Tibetan Monks in Leadville Today

If you hear the sounds of long, sonoric chants coming from the old Hitchin’ Post on Highway 91 north of Leadville Today (Aug. 28), don’t be too alarmed. While the dilapidated building, in its recent state, has been giving new meaning to the phrase “run-down old motel,” that’s all about to change. To mark the occasion of the transformation, on Monday, Aug. 28, the Gaden Shartse Buddhist Monks will be conducting a land blessing at the property located at 3164 Hwy 91, formally  known as the Hitchin’ Post Motel.

Rev. Lisa Giroux has purchased the property with her husband Jeff and they have big plans for the area, including leveling the old motel and remodeling the former caretakers cabin. But first the couple has invited the Monks who are visiting in neighboring Aspen this summer, to conduct a Land and Community blessing. The Land Blessing will be today at 5 p.m., so plan some extra time to get there and get situated.  The public is invited, with an offering being collected by donation. Dress for the weather and attendees are asked to bring their own chairs.

Old Hitchin Post

The old Hitchin’ Post Motel, located north of Leadville off Highway 91 will eventually be transformed into a new space to be used by Rivers and Willows, a new Leadville business owned by Rev. Lisa and Jeff Giroux. Today – August 28 – the site will be the location of a special land and community blessing by the Tibetan Monks. Photo; Leadville Today/Kathy Bedell

Rev. Lisa Giroux is a self-described Modern Mystic and is well known as a Reiki Master Teacher, practicing in Lake County for decades. The couple’s newly formed company – River and Willows LLC – will be offering a variety of services, including intimate marriage ceremonies under the name Tiny Weddings.

Questions? Contact Rev Lisa Giroux. 719.293.4157 or lisa@lisagiroux.com.

About The Monks, from their website:

Gaden Shartse Monastic College is situated amid lush green hills and jungle in the remote countryside of southern India. It was founded in 1969 as an effort to re­-establish one of the great monastic traditions of Tibet.  A small group of elder monks and fifteen young boys, all of whom had managed to escape the destruction in Tibet, settled on land given to them by the Indian government in Mundgod, Karnataka. 

Today the college is at the forefront of the revival of Tibetan Monastic education, with more than 1600 resident students, teachers, scholars, and spiritual practitioners.  More than 70% of the members are between the ages of 10 and 25 and 80% of these were born in Tibet. To this day, young monks arrive at the Monastery weekly from Tibet, seeking shelter and education. Due to the success of the academic program and the quality of the teachers at the monastery, Gaden Shartse has established a reputation as being the leader in the field of Buddhist and Tibetan studies.

Leadville Community Market Kicks Off Saturday

The Leadville Community Market is kicking off its 2017 season, on Saturday, Aug. 19 in the First Mountain Bank parking lot in downtown Leadville. The weekly gathering features fresh, seasonal produce as well as crafts and creations from local artisans and businesses. It’s a great place for locals and visitors to meet for a BBQ treat or sometimes, live music!

Leadville Today is a proud sponsor of the Leadville Community Market which continues August 19 thru September 23 on Saturdays from 9 a.m. til 2 p.m. Make sure to connect with them on the Leadville Community Market Facebook Page or email – leadvillemarket@gmail.com. Get ready to come out for some community fun on historic Harrison Avenue!

Tour Businesses Down Shift Schedules

 As the summer season slowly comes to a more manageable pace for residents and local businesses, schedules are adjusted. And so it goes for several tourist-related operations in Leadville. Of course, there’s still plenty of fairer weather before the winter sets in for good, but be aware of the following changes and opportunities when educating visitors about their choices, as things shift into leaf-peeping season.

matchless-mine headframe copy

The National Mining Museum secured a Climax Community Investment Fund grant to restore the Matchless Mine head frame. Work continues this fall; visitors welcome! Photo: Leadville Today/Kathy Bedell.

 The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum (NMHFM) announced yesterday that the Matchless Mine will be closed Fridays after Labor Day, September 4. The Matchless Mine will remain open for tours Saturday through Thursday during September, and then will finally close for the season October 8.

Guided surface tours begin at 1, 2, and 3 p.m., and self-guided surface tours are available anytime from noon until 4:45 p.m. when the historic site is open. Payment for tours must be in cash at the mine or by credit card at the NMHFM. Group tours will still be conducted on Fridays during September. Group tours any day of the week must be arranged in advance with the staff of the NMHFM.

The Matchless Mine is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is significant because of the large amount of silver mined there in the 19th century and its association with Silver King Horace Tabor and his wife, Elizabeth “Baby Doe” Tabor.

Visitors will have the opportunity to watch HistoriCorps work parties rehabilitating the 125-year-old wooden head frame September 12-24. The iconic head frame looms above the last remaining open mine shaft at the site and was used to raise and lower miners and materials. HistoriCorps is a non-profit organization dedicated to engaging volunteers in preserving and sustaining historic structures on public lands (including on private lands accessible to the public) for future generations.

The Matchless Mine is located 1.25 miles east of Leadville’s Harrison Avenue on 7th Street/County Road 3. It is an integral part of the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum. The mission of the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum is to tell the story about mining, its people, and its importance to the American public. Information about the Matchless Mine and the head frame rehabilitation project can be accessed at the NMHFM website.

All Aboard for Fall Colors Weekends

Coming off one of its most successful summer season to date, the Leadville Colorado and Southern Railroad is shifting its gears to its one-a-day schedule. During the weekdays – Monday thru Friday – the train provides daily trips at 1 p.m. On the weekends the popular attraction still maintains it’s two trips at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., with special Fall Photo Weekends planned for September 9 &10, September 16 & 17, and September 23 & 24.


A popular “last hurrah for summer,” the Stork-Curve Climax BBQ Train Ride is usually a SELL-OUT. This year, this special #EndOfTheLine trek will be Friday of Labor Day Weekend, September 1. #AllAboard. Photo: Leadville Today/Kathy Bedell.

One noteworthy special ride is the Stork-Curve Climax BBQ Train Ride on Friday, Sept.1. This ride goes to the end of the line, giving passengers a vantage point and view they don’t get to see on the regular train ride. Add to that some award-winning BBQ for an evening ride and it’s #AllAboard for the last hurrah of summer! Please note that this ride usually sells out, so make your reservations today. The Leadville, Colorado and Southern Railroad closes for the season in early October, with its last trip on Sunday, Oct. 8.   

“Help Wanted:” Shortage of Workers Hits Home

As the high country heads into the thick of the tourist season, Leadville and Lake County businesses have been experiencing a smaller and smaller labor pool to draw from. And while that may be good news for the workers, for small businesses who rely on the extra help to get through the busiest part of the year, the next several weeks could prove more challenging than they have in years.


One of the busiest businesses on historic Harrison Avenue, City on A Hill Coffee and Espresso is the place to get your java fix and it’s a good place to work! Photo: Leadville Today/Kathy Bedell

According to the Labor Market Info website, while the national unemployment rate stands at 4.4%, in Colorado that number drops even further to 2.3%. And for Leadville business owners looking to fill their staff positions for the height of the busy tourist season, that number is a stark reality!

“I’m not fully convinced anyone even wants to work anymore for a fair wage,” stated one Leadville business owner whose “Help Wanted” sign has been on standby for its regular window appearance since the beginning of the summer season. “Between a shortage of people who want to work, and a housing shortage for those I can recruit, it’s going to be challenging to get through the rest of the busy summer season and maintain the quality of service my customers expect.”

Statistic from the Colorado Labor Market Information website show that right behind the heavy-hitter employers like Freeport-McMoran’s Climax Mine, it’s the seasonal need from retail stores that have the highest number of job openings. From Safeway, to Kum-n-Go, to Shopko, it’s the re-stocking of shelves and the cashier jobs needed to ring up your purchase that seem to remain unfilled.

One Leadville restaurateur, who asked to remain anonymous, stated that “if I hear one more applicant tell me that they can work at Wendy’s for $13.50/hour plus benefits, I’m gonna scream. While I can’t compete with the bigger companies over in Summit and Eagle, I do offer a decent wage in a local business that treats its employees fair and decent. But I don’t know if that’s enough anymore.”

A quick check with the Leadville Colorado Workforce Center echoed the same sentiments, adding that there has been a decline in a skilled labor numbers. In other words, it appears that the workers available in the local market are often not meeting up with the requirements from job postings. It’s also a good reminder that this local office is a great resource for busy business owners, to help sort out perspective applicants. If you have a job opening, posting it with the Leadville center can cast the net of possible applicants a bit further, in addition to vetting out those not qualified for the position. It’s a time-saver in both the hiring process, as well as the more time-consuming training process for entry level employees. The Leadville Workforce Center is located at 115 W. 6th Street, upstairs in the McGregor Building. You can also connect with them online HERE.

So locals and visitors may need to pack some extra patience when heading out to the local grocery stores or to enjoy a meal at your favorite restaurant. Buckle up, the busy season is here in Leadville Today!

Leadville Shopko Grand Opening July 10 2015_POST_1

The Leadville Shopko which had its Grand Opening in Leadville two years ago on July 10, has been challenged to keep it’s payroll full with stockers and cashiers as mountain communities sees low unemployment rate this summer. Photo: Leadville Today/Kathy Bedell

According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, here is the latest jobs report issued last Friday, July 21, 2017.

Colorado Employment Situation – June 2017

Employers in Colorado added 6,500 nonfarm payroll jobs from May to June for a total of 2,647,000 jobs, according to the survey of business establishments. Private sector payroll jobs increased 6,100 and government increased 400.

According to the survey of households, the unemployment rate was unchanged from May to June at 2.3 percent. The number of people actively participating in the labor force increased 10,300 over the month to 2,969,100 and the number of people reporting themselves as employed increased 10,500 to 2,901,900, causing the number of unemployed to decrease 200. Due to rounding, the unemployment rate was unchanged from May at 2.3 percent.

The national unemployment rate increased one-tenth of a percentage point in June to 4.4 percent. Over the year, the average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased from 33.7 to 34.2 hours and average hourly earnings decreased from $26.80 to $26.75. The largest over the month private sector job gains were in professional and business services, education and health services, and leisure and hospitality. The largest over the month declines were in construction and information.


There is no shortage of “Help Wanted” and “Hiring” signs across mountain communities as the market deals with a low unemployment rate in Colorado.

Over the year, nonfarm payroll jobs increased 54,900, with an increase of 51,600 in the private sector and an increase of 3,300 in government. The largest private sector job gains were in trade, transportation, and utilities, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality. Mining and logging declined over the year. Over the year, the unemployment rate is down one and one-tenth of a percentage point from 3.4 percent.

The number of Coloradans participating in the labor force increased 83,100, total employment increased 113,300 and the number of unemployed decreased 30,300. The national unemployment rate declined from 4.9 percent in June 2016 to 4.4 percent in June 2017.

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