Saturday, April 30, 2011

Leadville Duggan Day


April 9, 1888, Martin Duggan, the ruthless lawman appointed sheriff in the town of Leadville, was shot in the back of the head at 4 am outside a saloon. Upon finding him, Duggan was asked who shot him. He would only say, "I'll die before I tell you." And then he died, his killer a mystery.

Fast forward to 2011, and Leadville, the highest incorporated city in America, held a bit of a celebratory day in honor of Martin Duggan, by re-enacting a trial in which Duggan was accused of shooting a man in cold blood, Charlie Lamb, eight years before his own death. Duggan was found innocent of the crime, but it did not end pretty when Lamb's widow, swore to wear widow's black until the time of Duggan's demise and then dance on his grave... and she did just that after Duggan died in 1888.
Ruth and I!!!!

With the perfect excuse to visit Leadville, and a floor to sleep on in nearby Buena Vista, I roped Uzzi and Ruth into the weekend.  It's really the first time I've stepped outside of the small group of travel buddies I have formed in the last nine months, and they were excellent sports to watch me excited and adventurous.

Unfortunately, all the museums in Leadville were closed until May, except for the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum. So we learned all about mining and metals, the museum was much larger than I expected and had lots of hands on rooms...probably for an emphasis on field trips.  We met an intern working there who is from Liverpool... awesome accent! There were also several "mine replicas" to walk through and one even had sounds of explosions and heavy equipment that were triggered as we walked through.
Slightly Scary Donkey in the Mine Replica

Good Sports who occasionally got tired!

We love us some scrabble!

Our afternoon was spent eating fudge and quietly playing scrabble in a New Age cafe.  After we had been there for a while, the owner said, "You guys seem pretty cool so I'm going to put my music on...and they are not the radio edits." And she was correct... they were not the radio edits.... Ruth didn't know the words to Cee-lo's song were not originally "Forget You." :o)

We spent some time browsing the shops on the main drag and ran into the guy playing the part of Duggan in the reenactment. Only a couple of questions into the conversation and he was telling us all about the history of Leadville.  Anybody who was anybody in the old west, showed up in Leadville: The James/Younger gang, Doc Holliday, and even Molly Brown got married in a church up there.  There were 30,000-40,000 people who lived there in its height, and the only race not represented was Chinese, because of a fear of taking over jobs for lower pay...much like what had been seen in San Francisco at the time. When a few showed up in town, two of them were hung to send the message.  In the late 1800's there were around 20 some churches in town, and there were eight saloons to every church.... crazy!
Duggan Retelling His Life

The reenactment was fun and cute and slightly infused with humor...I'm so glad we had a bit of a history lesson beforehand and had the afternoon to immerse ourselves in the flavor of Leadville.  It was a perfect ending to our time.  Afterwards I went up to "Duggan" to thank him for his time in sharing with us and he made sure to invite me back for their Boom Days in August, where tons of people come and dress in costume and is much more festive.  He told me I was welcome to dress a part, and get involved, saying, "You could be, I don't know, Sister Mary Katherine from Kansas City, trying to convert all the sinners." I smiled and deep in my heart part of me wished I wouldn't be back on the east coast come August...I mean, how cool would that be?
Dinosaur Room at Mining Museum... Slightly Disappointing

With a beautiful night back in Buena Vista of a cozy home, a couple of guitars, and people sharing music, we headed back to the Springs Sunday...I heart Leadville!

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