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Welcome to my newsletter where I share updates about my writing projects and discuss the importance of historic places.
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Volume 1, Issue 5, July 25, 2016
Welcome
 
The Colorado gold and silver rushes during the 19th century created incredible rags to riches stories for some while others lost everything. The historic sites featured here illustrate those two extremes. One is a Victorian home in Denver; the other is a shack in Leadville that was home to a widow after her multi-millionaire husband lost his entire fortune.

Cynthia Collins
cynthia-collins.com
Cynthia Collins  
Molly Brown House Museum
The Molly Brown House Museum was the home of James Joseph "J.J." Brown and his wife, Margaret, who later was known as the "unsinkable" Molly Brown. They purchased a Victorian mansion in Denver, CO, in 1894 after the original owners had lost their fortune in the silver crash of 1893. The Browns, meanwhile, had become millionaires after J.J., a mining superintendent, discovered a vein of gold in the Little Johnny Mine in Leadville. They moved from the mining town to one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in Denver.

Molly Brown House MuseumMolly had dropped out of school at the age of 13 in her hometown of Hannibal, MO, to work in a factory. While living in Leadville, the Browns saw the hardships miners and their families faced. As millionaires, they used their wealth for various causes that dealt with poverty relief and community improvement. Social reforms were so important to Molly that she unsuccessfully ran for the Colorado state senate. She traveled all over the world and was one of the survivors of the Titanic disaster. Not only was she "unsinkable" but convinced the first class passengers to chip in with donations to help those who had lost everything.

The Molly Brown House Museum maintains a large collection of items that had been owned by the Brown family and are representative of the Victorian era. Whether it is fine art or furniture, silver or porcelain, these and other items provide a historic look at personal tastes, mining success, and turn-of-the-century society. The museum offers programs for students about Molly's philanthropy and activism for social reform, special evening programs for visitors, and daily tours. Details are available on the museum's website.


Matchless Mine and Baby Doe's Cabin
Horace Tabor, a 19th-century prospector, made his fortune in silver mining in Leadville, CO. The discovery of silver in 1878 in one of his mines kicked off Colorado's silver boom. The following year, he purchased the Matchless Mine which, for years, produced thousands of dollars per day of high grade silver. The mine's output was unmatched and Tabor used his wealth to establish newspapers, the Tabor Grand Hotel, the Tabor Opera House, and a mansion in Denver. He was one of Colorado's most famous "silver kings," with a fortune of more than $9 million.

Matchless Mine, Baby Doe's CabinWith the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1893, the value of silver plunged. Tabor, along with many others, lost his entire fortune. However, his second wife-former mistress, Elizabeth "Baby Doe" Tabor,  moved into the supply shack at the Matchless Mine, Baby Doe's Cabin, and lived there, in poverty, until her death. Legend has it that on her husband's deathbed, he told her to hold on to the mine. Through the years, she continued to lease the mine but its output was never what it had been during the silver boom. She lived as a recluse, wrapping her feet in burlap for warmth. She died alone in the cabin at the age of 81.

Baby Doe's Cabin is next to the Matchless Mine main shaft. Both of these buildings are part of the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum in Leadville. Surface tours are available of the mine and include the cabin. This is a riches to rags story, complete with wistful attempts to recapture what once was. The museum has been called the "Smithsonian of the Rockies" and exhibits the history and hard work of mining.

 
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For reviews, excerpts, and summary, see cynthia-collins.com.

Now on the 2016 Summer Reading List of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) under the section for grades 9-12.

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Available at Amazon.com
Photo credits: Molly Brown House: courtesy of the Molly Brown House Museum. Matchless Mine and Baby Doe's Cabin: courtesy of the Mining History Association.

All articles in this newsletter are by Cynthia Collins. The featured historic site section contains general information. The other articles may not be reprinted without written permission. Subscriber lists are not sold or given to any third parties and historic sites are not charged for being featured. To suggest historic sites for future issues, request article reprint permission, or any comments/questions regarding this newsletter, please contact Cynthia Collins.
Copyright © 2016 Cynthia Collins, All rights reserved.



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