Kit Morgan: The Gold Rush Town of Leadville

Hi there! Kit Morgan here! It’s so nice to be invited to write for the Petticoats and Pistols Blog. Thanks so much for having me.

Today I want to tell you about a fun project I’m involved in. I love creating entire communities, so when western historical romance author Caroline Lee asked me to help spearhead a multi-author project with her, I was in!

Multi-author projects are difficult at best, especially when creating an entire town, its inhabitants, and the type of town it’s to be. In this case, we had to create a boomtown on a downward slide. A place where the gold was petering out and the miners were leaving in droves. To make things a little easier and have a guide (because lets face it, none of us were around back then) we found a town located near our fictional setting that went through all the same things our town was going to be experiencing. Leadville, Colorado. So we started digging and discovered all sorts of things! (Click on the pictures below to enlarge them.)

The basic story line for our town, which we named Noelle, follows a group of businessmen with a problem on their hands. Now that the gold is petering out, they’re trying to figure out a way to stay, make the town a real town, and not have to lose everything they’ve built up. The answer? Get the railroad to create a spur to Noelle. To do that they need to either find more gold or get folks to settle fast so the railroad will take notice. They go for both. Twelve mail-order brides are on their way while, at the same time, what miners are left work double time to find more gold. The railroad does take notice, but gives the town a deadline to achieve this feat. If Noelle doesn’t meet the required deadline, no spur will be built. And that’s when the fun begins.

But much the same thing happened in Leadville back in the day, sans a mail-order bride scheme to save the town. The town may have run out of gold, but other things saved the day. I’m not telling you what otherwise the surprise will be spoiled should you read the books. Still, towns lived and died quickly in the old west, and Leadville was no exception. This is why it made such a wonderful model for our story line.

By 1880, just three years after Leadville was founded, it was one of the world’s largest and richest silver camps, with a population of over 15,000. Income from more than thirty mines and ten large smelting works producing gold, silver and lead amounted to $15,000,000 annually.

Noelle isn’t quite so prosperous. But we sure are having fun with it! Myself, I’ve written two books that take place in Noelle. The Partridge: The First Day, 12 Day’s of Christmas Mail-Order Brides, and just released, Ophelia A Valentine’s Day Bride.

Our town is still growing and trying to become respectable. Though we don’t expect it to reach to 15,000 people in its first few years, it is growing. Slow but sure, one happy romance at a time.

 

  

 

Have you ever been to a gold rush town? What attracted you? I’m giving away one digital copy of the books above — one to two different winners. Leave a comment to enter.

Guest Blogger

32 Comments

  1. I am pretty sure that I have been…. But it has been so long, that I don’t remember much. I think we went during a family vacation back when I was a little kid. I vaguely remember thinking it was neat, but I don’t remember much! It looks like I need to plan that for my family now!

    1. I don’t remember ever going to a gold rush town as a child. I didn’t finally see one until I lived in California for a time as an adult.

  2. I vividly remember two Gold Rush towns we visited: Leadville, Colorado, and Deadwood, South Dakota. Leadville was first a gold rush town that turned to silver mining when they thought the gold had run out, and also lead, zinc and copper, and then gold once again later on. It was a wild, lawless town I recall, also famous for Doc Holiday (after the O.K. Corral) and Molly Brown (who later survived the sinking of the Titanic).

    General Custer is thought responsible for starting the Gold Rush on Indian lands in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where the nearby towns of Deadwood, Lead and Custer sprang up. Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane are buried in Deadwood.

    Can you tell I love travel and history? Oh, and do I love that part of the country!

    1. I’m doing a book event in Deadwood in June! I can’t wait to see it! It’s called Wild Deadwood Reads. Ought to be a lot of fun!

  3. Good morning, I’ve been to Cripple Creek, Colorado, I’m not sure it was gold or silver discovered there. However it’s a fun town with rich history to follow, I even rode the train it has up into the mountains to look at the old mines. Wow that was an amazing ride. You have a great Friday and thank you for visiting!

    1. I have a book on Cripple Creek, Colorado! I’d like to visit it one day.

  4. I wenpt to a few as a child with my family. I can’t think of the names of the towns in Colorado at the moment. I’d love to go to many of them now that I love Historical Western novels. I love the opportunity to read your book in the series!

    1. Having lived in California for a time, I’ve been to Angel’s Camp, Sonora and my favorite, Columbia, CA where I set one of my stories in another series. (Minnie, Book 3 Historical of Cowboys and Debutantes). Anyway, I love old mining towns. But I’ve never seen any other than those in California. But they’re part of what inspired me to start writing western historical romance.

  5. I’ve never been to a gold rush town. But it would certainly be interesting. Thank you for your post. Your books sound very interesting and I look forward to reading them.
    Carol Luciano

    1. They are very interesting! What I love most about visiting gold rush towns is that they make you feel like you’re in the 1800s! You can just imagine the townsfolk in the streets, the wagons, and horses. For a writer, it’s pure bliss!

  6. No I’ve never been to a gold rush town but maybe one day. I have enjoyed the 12 days books I’ve read of the series so far and I am currently in the process of getting them all in print

    1. Yes, I need to take mine to print! The covers are so gorgeous, I want all twelve just to put them on display!

  7. Several years ago I visited Leadville, Colorado. It was a wonderful time!

    1. Ah me, one day I’ll get there!

  8. I have never been to a Gold Rush town except in books. I can’t wait to read yours it sounds really good.

    1. I hope you enjoy my little stories. And if you ever get the chance to visit a gold rush town, do it! They are so fascinating.

  9. As a child and a teen I was thrilled to go to Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA. Back in the 50’s & 60’s it wasn’t anything like it was to become. No, “my” Farm was a small ghost town that was brought in and rebuilt and there were a couple of restaurants that were pretty elite at the time. Plus they served boysenberry pie!!
    The name of the ghost town was Calico and had the saloon, a mercantile, a candle making shop (my favorite), a blacksmith shop, and others that I’ve long since forgotten. They even had a stagecoach (with holdups!) and a really cool gold mine ride complete with explosions. So, yes, I’ve visited a ghost town, just a bit customized is all.

    1. I remember Knott’s Berry Farm! I went there once a long time ago. Pretty cool place.

  10. Hi Kit….Welcome to P&P! We’re so happy you’re here. Leadville and Cripple Creek are such fascinating towns. I’ve been there and toured the area and history was all around me. I felt I walked in the footsteps of those people who once lived and worked there. Just loved the atmosphere that felt as though I was stepping back in time. Your Brides of Noelle series intrigues me and you have such a great lineup of authors. Congratulations! Wish you ladies much success!

  11. Thanks, Linda! One of the things I loved about the project was learning all about Leadville! I so want to see it in person one day. And Cripple Creek!

  12. No I have not visited a gold rush town… maybe one day.

    1. Oh, definitely do, Colleen! They are so educational and fun!

  13. I have not yet visited a gold rush town. But, I’m looking forward to doing so vicariously through The Brides of Noelle.

    1. Well, we have more books coming so you’ll get a chance to watch the town grow!

  14. Hi Kit, I am from the Netherlands (Europe) and when we visited our relatives in 2002 we went to the Colombia State Historical Park in California. At this popular place our kids learned how to pan for gold. We had a wonderful time there.

    1. I LOVE Columbia State Park, Annette! I live in California for a time and used to go there. I even set one of my stories there! Minnie (Cowboys and Debutantes). It’s such a cute and fun place. I hope you ventured into Sonora up the road!

  15. No, I’ve never been to one but I loved seeing them in westerns. Thanks for your giveaway.

    1. They are soooooo fun! I love them!

  16. I never have but I will.

    1. Which one would you like to see? I’m looking forward to seeing Deadwood this summer.

  17. I saw a copper mine pretty neat. I have not seen a gold mine.

  18. No, I haven’t visited one but I hope someday. I love the town that you all created.

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