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1880’s Leadville, Colorado(Image from City of

Leadville was established in much the very same method as many Colorado mining towns in the mid-19th century: with the discovery of gold. The Pikes Peak Gold Rush or Sherman Silver Purchase Act caused the Panic of 1893 when the worth of silver unexpectedly plummeted. A lot of Leadville’s rich mining locals, consisting of Horace Tabor, lost their fortunes practically over night and the town fell on extremely difficult times.

Crystal Palace Construsction
(Image from Denver Town Library)

In 1895, with a number of Leadville’s services facing personal bankruptcy, the town’s leaders proposed a significant and dangerous concept for a major winter carnival to draw travelers and organisation back to the town and keep Leadville’s remaining homeowners in town for the winter season. The centerpiece of the carnival would be a giant, crystal palace built out of strong blocks of ice and large enough to house all the occasions of the carnival. Because Leadville stood at over 10,000 feet and typically had snow year-round, town leaders believed that, put effectively, the Crystal palace might also remain all year and become an irreversible community structure and traveler destination. The carnival organizers employed designer Charles E. Jay, who had designed the ice castle for Saint Paul, Minnesota’s winter carnival.

Through financing and support from the town’s local entrepreneur, as well as task manager, Tingley S. Wood, construction of the Crystal Palace began on November 1, 1895. It took a team of over 250 men working day and night to construct the palace’s timber and metal framework and carry its over 5,000 lots of ice in from Palmer Lake. The ice was the shaped, shaved, and stacked to offer the Crystal Palace the appearance of having been constructed completely from ice. The ice walls were then sprayed down with water to freeze the blocks together and act as a kind of mortar. After only 36 days, the Crystal Palace was complete. Its towers reached over 90 feet high and 40 feet broad and enclosed over 58,000 square feet on
over 5 acres of ground. It was a work of art. Skating Rink inside Crystal Palace(Image from Palace included a 20-foot broad boardwalk, a ballroom, a skating rink, and even a restaurant that displayed its meals frozen in blocks of ice as part of the structure. Home builders had also frozen electrical lights into the walls of the palace so that it appeared to sparkle and glow. On January 1,1896, the winter carnival began and the Ice Palace was
officially opened to the public as more than 2,000 visitors shown up in town to admire the structure. Admission to the Palace was 50 cents for grownups and 25 cents for kids and included usage of the ballroom and skating rink. Season tickets were likewise made readily available, so that town residents and regular visitors could utilize the Palace once again and once again. The Palace appeared to be a remarkable success and regional railroads even promoted the tourist attraction with special routes and group rates.

Ice archways inside Crystal Palace
(Image from Denver Town Library)

For the next nearly three months, the Crystal Carnival hosted more than 250,000 visitors and occasions ranging from skating competitors to stock exchanges. March of 1896 brought unseasonably warm temperatures and participation at the Carnival fell considerably. By the end of March, the Palace had begun to melt, and there appeared to be no way towait. On March 28 th, 1896, theCarnival hosted its last official event in the Palace and as the hopes of making it a permanent component of the town vanished. Though it had actually drawn lots of visitors and got a remarkable amount of publicity for the town, investors in the Crystal Carnival and Palace took a significant loss on their investment and had no objective of attempting to repeat the occasion. In October of 1896, the last remaining parts of the Crystal Palace were destroyed. Today, Ice Palace Park stands on the land where the Crystal Palace when was and though there was talk of restoring the Carnival and Palace in the 1980’s, high expense projections prevented any severe financial investment in the idea. Instead, the Carnival and Palace stay just a memory in the now easily thriving mountain town of Leadville, Colorado.

Leadville Crystal Palace
(Image from

Historical Paper Articles About Leadville’s Crystal Palace