Sitting in the mountains at 10,152 feet, Leadville is America's highest incorporated city. The 70 square blocks of Victorian architecture and adjacent mining district hint at its past as a rich silver-mining boomtown. In the history of Colorado mining, perhaps no town looms larger. Two of the state's most fascinating figures lived here: mining magnate Horace Tabor and his second wife, Elizabeth Doe McCourt (nicknamed Baby
Doe), the central figures in John LaTouche's Pulitzer prize–winning opera The Ballad of Baby Doe.
Tabor amassed a fortune of $9 million, much of which he spent building monuments to himself and his mistress "Baby Doe." His power peaked when his money helped him secure a U.S. Senate seat in 1883. He married Baby Doe after divorcing his first wife, the faithful Augusta. The Tabors incurred the scorn of high society by throwing their money around in what was considered a vulgar fashion. After the price of silver plummeted, Tabor died a pauper in 1899 and Baby Doe became a recluse, rarely emerging from her tiny, unheated cabin beside the mine entrance. She froze to death in 1935.