Saturday, July 11, 2020 -
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It all started in Leadville

By 1932, there were only two buildings standing in Leadville that Horace Tabor had erected: The eponymous Tabor Opera House and the synagogue, Temple Israel. In fact, up in Leadville, the Temple Israel Foundation has the original deed from Tabor to David May, granting the land.

There is only one other mention of a Jewish connection in David Karsner’s thoroughly enjoyable Silver Dollar: The Story of the Tabors, first published in 1932.

The chapter in which Karsner describes Meyer Guggenheim is almost a stand alone, serving as a contrast — and possible rebuke — to Tabor’s recklessness with the fortune he thought would never dry up.

Curiously, Guggenheim is described by Karsner as a Dutch Jew. One could blame this misattribution on the common Dutch-Deutsch (German) swap (the same reason behind the misnomer “Pennsylvania Dutch,” a German dialect); but, in fact, Guggenheim was neither Dutch nor German; he was Swiss. Perhaps such details were less important in the melting pot mentality of the 19th century.

Guggenheim purchased two mines that Tabor had deemed worthless, A Y and Little Minnie. After netting in excess of $100,000 a month, after six months Guggenheim invested his excess in working capital, ultimately averaging $500,000 annually.

Guggenheim “was smart — much more so than the majority who had come to riches via pick and shovel and cart . . . He did not trouble to build theaters and mansions in Denver, and perhaps never saw a peacock. But he was laying a foundation . . . for a great American financial dynasty.”

His dynasty, in the form of ambassadors, senators, financiers and museums, is now well established. It all started here in Colorado.

Shana Goldberg may be reached at

Copyright © 2017 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Shana Goldberg

IJN Assistant Publisher |

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