On November 25, 1895, a cornerstone of ice was laid in Leadville, Colorado, the beginning of the largest ice palace ever built in America.
The town was in the doldrums; the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1893 had ended its glory days as a silver-mining center. In an effort to keep their city alive, the citizens staged a winter carnival. On New Years Day, 1896, the town turned out for the grand opening. The palace, costing more than $40,000 and measuring 450 feet long by 320 feet deep, covered more than three acres. The towers that flanked the entrance were 90 feet high. Inside was a 16,000-square-foot skating rink.
But there was no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. The thousands of visitors who came to see the spectacle spent very little money. The town that put its hope in an ice palace saw that hope melt away.