Leadville’s Crystal Palace

admin May 16, 2011 0

The Leadville Crystal Palace was a historic structure, built from ice and constructed in just 36 days. It has a fascinating story and an undesirable ending. Leadville Crystal Palace was built in 1896 in the city of Leadville, Colorado. The crystal palace was a grandeur structure made up of 5000 tons of ice.

The lustrous crystal palace stood at the foot of Colorado’s highest peak. The crystal palace housed a ballroom, skating rink, dance floor, game rooms and a carousal house. The city of Leadville was a rich city until 1881, but after that the city’s days of good fortune were ended due to financial crisis. In the winter of 1895, the construction of an ice castle was proposed in order to attract tourists and create jobs for the people of Leadville to save the city’s gloomy economic state.

Charles E. Jay was the architect for the project and the Leadville Ice Company was responsible for the production of ice. The construction of the palace started on November 1, 1895 with more then 250 laborers working day and night. The laborers were paid $20 to $30 each week.  The castle encompassed an area of 5 acres and was about 90 feet high and the inner framework was supported by timber and girders. The ice blocks were covered with boiling water as it froze quickly and provided strength to the ice structure.

The crystal palace was constructed in just 36 days and was opened for visitors on January 1, 1896. The visitors were fascinated by its size. It was a beautiful palace with lights casting a glow through the transparent walls, complete with an 18-inch frozen trout. The skaters could skate on the skating rink and had an extraordinary experience. In just 3 months, more then 250,000 tourists visited the palace.

The crystal palace was a fun experience for the visitors and it was a profitable winter season for the Leadville community. Finally, the ice began to melt and the whole structure was ruined on March 28th. The last event at the crystal palace was the Maypole Skating Party, which was celebrated on May Day when the ice was still in good shape and crowds had been skating at the skating rinks.

Despite having a remarkable response from the visitors, the investors suffered a financial disaster and did not plan another ice palace of the same magnitude.

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