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Street Names & News from 80461 Leadville

Harrison Ave_Leadville Today_Scott Evers

Historic Harrison Avenue is one of the most scenic throughfares in the state, running through the heart of downtown Leadville. It’s Colorado’s main street gem! Photo:Leadville Today/Scott Evers

Leadville Streets Change with The Times

By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today

Streets. Avenues. Boulevards. No matter what you call them, they’re the thoroughfares that get you from Point A to Point B.

Streets can also help people find your address, the place where you live. During Leadville’s pioneer days, people’s residences were recorded in city directories. There was no “my number’s in the book,” or even postal delivery. Back then, if you wanted to find someone in this busting-at-the-seams mining town, these city directories were your first point of reference.

Of course, that’s a far cry from today’s people finder: Google. In fact, initially there were no specific numbered addresses given to Leadville businesses or residences, location was simply listed as “one door west of the barn!”

Readers may also be interested to know that it was Chestnut Street which was Leadville’s first road. In addition, it was Pine Street, not Harrison Avenue that divided the east side of town from the west. Early in 1878, there were five east – west running streets designated:  Front (the first street located directly north of the original Oro City and California Gulch area), then Elm, Chestnut, State and Main. That’s right, Leadville’s Main Street would technically be what is currently known as 3rd Street. Also listed in that historic directory were the first north-south running streets, which remain the same today as Harrison, Pine, Spruce, and Leiter.

Leadville Streets Map

Have you ever wondered how historic Harrison Avenue got its name? No, it wasn’t after the 9th President of the United States William Henry Harrison, but rather Leadville’s pioneer smelter entrepreneur Edwin Harrison. As his wealth and influence grew, so did the buildings along the street that bore his name. It didn’t take long before the shift of power swung one block east, forever changing Leadville’s gridiron and make historic Harrison Avenue move center stage where it remains today.  

Of course, this change meant that the numbered addresses on the cross street had to change because the east-west dividing line had been moved. If you compare city directories from 1879 and 1880, addresses of the same business vary.  But remember, none of these businesses physically moved, only the addresses had been changed!

Eventually Leadville grew north, and then east and more streets were added. Many times city maps had streets on them with no names.

Harrison Flowers

History is in full bloom on Leadville’s Harrison Avenue.

Other times, they were given names, often presidential, like Jefferson, Madison and Lincoln. But just as often, they were still known among the locals by a different name, referring to some geological feature, or local character who lived on the block, like the California Gulch Road or the second left on Chicken Hill.

Eventually, it was deemed advisable to the town’s existence, to abandon the names of the east-west running streets in favor of numbered street names. City council took action and all east-west thoroughfares were given numbers. For the most part, the idea worked.

But mountain folks can be stubborn when it comes to change. Chestnut Street was “grandfathered” and remains as such today. State Street was changed to 2nd Street but the old name hung on well into the middle of the 20th century, except for the block between Harrison and Pine Streets where it continues to be referred to as old State Street. It was honored as such during the Boom Days celebration in 2014.


Former Leadville Mayor Jamie Stuever places a commemorative street sign marking the Boom Days celebration of State Street, presently known as 2nd Street.

Even as Leadville and Lake County continues to grow, new streets are made and named. There are the more recent ones down off of County Road 4, where you can find Ranch Road and Alpine Cirque (a cirque in Leadville?!)

Of course, most of the West Park streets are named after 14ers. And then there’s the Gem Valley subdivision with Ruby Lane and Turquoise Street. What others come to mind for you? What’s the name of the place you live on?

But no matter what street you call home, it’s just good to be living in the 80461 in Leadville Today!

80461 Food Drive Collects Record Success in Leadville!

Post Office Food Drive 2

Leadville Postal Carriers, aka Team 80461, collected 3,032 pounds canned goods and non-perishable items from Leadville/Lake County residents to help re-stock the local food pantries! Great work! Pictured (left to right): Josh Valverde, Amanda McNicholas and Rick Medina, in foreground.

“Leadville is awesome and has the best people living here, by far,” stated Leadville Postmaster Greg Sandoval in his email report to Leadville Today regarding the food drive held on May 13. Lake County’s Team 80461 collected a record 3,032 pounds of food, the most ever, according to local records.

In fact, last year’s report indicated just over 900 pounds was collected by postal carriers, as residents placed their non-perishable foods in the paper bag provided by the United States Post Office.

Post Office Food Drive 2017

Leadville Postal Carrier Amanda McNicholas shows off her truck filled with food donations from her postal customers during the May 13 food drive.

Every second Saturday in May, letter carriers in more than 10,000 cities and towns across America collect the goodness and compassion of their postal customers, who participate in the Stamp Out Hunger National Food Drive – the largest one-day food drive in the nation. 

Postal customers are asked to place their bag next to their mailbox. The carriers do the rest. The food is then sorted, weighed and delivered to area food banks, where it is available for needy families.

“The biggest trouble we had was finding enough equipment to put all of the food in,” said Sandoval, “but it was a great problem to have!”

So, thank you so much, residents of 80461 for your support of the food drive and helping make it such a huge success! And remember all of the donations will go directly to local food pantries, including the Lake County Senior Citizens Center, First Presbyterian Church, and St. George’s Church.vbn

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