National Geographic : 1969 Aug
their way up the head of the high, sprawling basin called South Park, past a town with the intriguing name of Fairplay. In 1859 miners of the nearby gold camp of Tarryall jealously excluded a group of new comers. Dubbing the place "Graball," the latecomers pushed on to strike pay dirt on the South Platte River, where they built their own town. Today Tarryall is silent, gone. Fairplay survives, in righteous rebuke. Early Coloradans knew how to name their towns. Of course, Denverites christened theirs for a governor of Kansas Territory to curry political favor-not knowing that he had already left office. And some places bear no nonsense names that only a miner could love, like Bedrock, Basalt, Granite, or Silt. Man-made lightning from a million-volt generator stabs an experimental pool of fresh water in an engineering laboratory at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Fingers of fire flare out on the surface and dissipate energy over a wide area. Research ers, seeking to learn through such tests whether lightning endangers marine life or submerged craft, have discovered that the region affected by the bolts is smaller in salt water than in fresh water; hence sea water is less dangerous. But glorious dreams linger in wizened mountain towns named Eureka and Bonan za; others speak of harvests-Orchard City, Fruita, and Sugar City. You can't mistake the brimming anticipation that inspired the name Firstview (where the westward-bound with their oxcarts and wagons first glimpsed the distant Rockies), or the vague despair of Last Chance, named as late as 1926 because it was still so far from anything. On the plains I passed crossroads hamlets named Punkin Center and Toonerville. And in the high country I smiled with the whimsi cal ghosts who called their towns Tincup, Lulu City, and Buckskin Joe. "Hang On to the Matchless" Across the rugged Mosquito Range from Fairplay stands Leadville, once Colorado's second largest city, with 24,000 people. Dwell ing nearly two miles above sea level, today's 6,000 residents claim their year has only three months-"July, August, and Winter." Their principal industry now is the world's largest molybdenum mine at Climax, 13 miles to the north (pages 166-7). In 1874, when most of Colorado's placer workings had already petered out, someone discovered that the heavy dark sand that had hampered earlier gold miners in this area was almost pure carbonate of lead and silver. Among the fortunes made here was that of H. A. W. Tabor, a storekeeper who grubstaked a pair of miners to $17 worth of groceries. They promptly struck silver. "Haw" Tabor sold his share for a million dollars and par layed that into more than nine million from other diggings, including the famous Match less Mine. Tabor the millionaire turned to politics, rising to serve briefly as a U. S. Senator. Along the way his eye fell upon the beautiful Eliza beth McCourt (Baby) Doe, and in a scandal still warm in Leadville's memory, he divorced his wife Augusta to marry her.