Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Omaha and Grant Smelter

Denver's second smelter, the Omaha and Grant, moved to Denver from Leadville in 1882 to a site where the Denver Coliseum stands today. The plant used a different technology than the Boston and Colorado to recover silver and lead, accepting ore from the mountains via the Denver South Park and Pacific Railroad and shipping bullion to Omaha via the Union Pacific Railroad. By 1886, the Omaha and Grant Company was a highly integrated firm with its own mines, sampling works, reduction plants, refinery and even a marketing department. In 1892, Denver's largest smelter expanded, building a giant 350-foot chimney, the tallest structure in the region and a visible symbol of an industry considered vital to the region. A year after the completion of the stack, the nation experienced an economic depression that hit mining and smelting hard. Changes in technology, the depletion of rich ores and the long, violent labor strike of 1903 resulted in the closing of the smelter, leaving the massive plant unoccupied and 375 men unemployed. Over the years, the plant was gradually dismantled, leaving only the giant chimney as a reminder of the glory days of the city's largest smelting company. The chimney was demolished February 26, 1950 to make way for the Denver Coliseum.

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