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Climax

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Climax (1887, 11,320 feet) was named for the Denver, South Park & Pacific depot (1881) atop Fremont Pass, which became the first office of the Climax Molybdenum Mining Company. The Climax Molybdenum Mine (1916) turned low-grade molybdenum ore into Colorado's richest mine and mill operation. Molybdenum, used as an alloy to harden steel, became crucial during World War I for armor plating and during the 1920s for automobile steel. World War II triggered much greater expansion, and for several decades Climax produced more than half of the world supply of molybdenum, along with byproducts of tungsten, lead, and iron pyrite. Production peaked at 50,000 tons per day in what claimed to be the world's largest underground mine.

As the use of steel and molybdenum mining declined, this company town was dismantled, and many dwellings were moved to Leadville in the 1960s to become the nucleus of the West Park suburb. In 1982 Climax ceased production and laid off 3,000 workers, retaining only a skeleton crew. Hollowed-out Bartlett Mountain and miles of waste dumps and tailings ponds remain as Colorado's most spectacular unnatural wonder.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Thomas J. Noel

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