Climax in Lake County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)
Welcome to Climax!
A whole lot of Colorado history has happened right here on top of Fremont Pass. And it all happened because of a metal most people have trouble pronouncing.
Molybdenum (moll-ib-den-um) is used to harden steel. More molybdenite ore (the unrefined form of the pure metal) has come from Climax Mine than any other place on the planet: 470 million tons.
In the seventy-six years it took to mine that ore, more than 60,000 workers drew a Climax paycheck. The company town across the road (which once boasted a population of 3,000) had a state championship basketball team, the first television reception in central Colorado and the highest post office in the nation.
The spot where you’re standing lay at the base of one of the state’s first ski areas, and there was a top-secret World War II observatory just up the hill.
There was a gas station, beauty shop, grocery store and luncheonette on this spot in the Fifties, as well as a saloon called the Slop Chute.
We hope you’ll spend more time in this place to learn a few of its stories, and come to understand what is truly special about the place in the sky called Climax.
The County Line War
Some of the most powerful magnets that draw people to a place are water and the potential for wealth. There is no shortage
The Climax Mine property straddles the Continental Divide, and three major streams originate here: the Arkansas and Eagle Rivers, and Ten Mile Creek. Water on the Leadville side of the pass flows into the Gulf of Mexico, more than 1500 miles from where the water on the Copper Mountain side of Fremont Pass reaches the sea in the Gulf of California.
While the Continental Divide is a real geographic feature, the boundary line between Summit and Lake counties is not. No one paid much attention when it was established in 1881. At that time, there was no hint of the enormous wealth that lay beneath Bartlett Mountain.
The legal description of the county line was vague, but it was generally accepted that the Climax orebody was in Summit County. In the early 1900’s though, one of the companies that was battling for control of the newly-discovered molybdenum deposits on Fremont Pass filed mining claims in Lake County, asserting that the existing claims filed in Summit County were invalid because the boundary line was drawn in the wrong place.
The claims touched off a lawsuit between the counties that became known as the County Line War. The eventual verdict placed Climax Mine in Lake County, with the result that millions of dollars in property taxes were paid at the courthouse in Leadville, rather than
Erected by Climax Molybdenum Company & the Federal Highway Administration.
Location. 39° 22.046′ N, 106° 11.304′ W. Marker is in Climax, Colorado, in Lake County. Touch for map. Marker is located on the west side of Colorado Highway 91, on Fremont Pass, directly across from the Climax Molybdenum Mine, within a small park containing numerous historical markers and mining exhibits. Marker is in this post office area: Climax CO 80429, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Top Secret (a few steps from this marker); Fremont Pass (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Kokomo Masonic Lodge (approx. 1.6 miles away); 10th Mountain Division Memorial (approx. 6.5 miles away); Office of Stratigic Services (O.S.S.) NORSO (Rype Group) Special Force (approx. 6.6 miles away); Norwegian Memorial (approx. 6.6 miles away); Construction of Camp Hale (approx. 8.6 miles away); Matchless Mine (approx. 8.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Climax.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Markers within Climax Historical Marker Park
Also see . . .
1. Climax Molybdenum.
Climax Molybdenum Company, a subsidiary (Submitted on September 5, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
2. The History of Colorado's Climax Molybdenum Mine.
High atop the Continental Divide, the Climax Mine opened during World War I to meet military needs for molybdenum, a metallic element that enhances the toughness and durability of steel. (Submitted on September 5, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
3. The Rise of Climax Molybdenum.
The mineral deposit that prospector Charles Senter found and claimed high on Bartlett Mountain in 1879 was a real sleeper. Mineralogists needed twenty more years to correctly identify the mineral as molybdenite, the disulfide of molybdenum. (Submitted on September 5, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
4. Climax Mine: A brief history.
When war erupted in Europe in 1914, Germany unexpectedly unveiled an arsenal of molybdenum-steel gun barrels and armor far superior to those of the Allies. As wartime demand sent molybdenum prices soaring, prospectors and speculators rushed to the tiny railroad water stop named Climax atop Fremont Pass. Of the three companies that battled for control of Bartlett Mountain, the Climax Molybdenum Company emerged victorious and began mining and milling molybdenite ore in February 1918, at the rate of 250 tons of ore per day. Molybdenum alloys proved invaluable for the Allies in weapons-grade steel, armor and aircraft engines. (Submitted on September 5, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Additional keywords. mining
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page was last revised on September 6, 2017. This page originally submitted on September 4, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 52 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on September 4, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 3. submitted on September 5, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 4. submitted on September 6, 2017. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.