Located in Leadville, Colorado, this homage to mining takes explorers back through the heyday of the gold rush era. The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum shows the history of the people who pioneered the discovery and utilization of one of the nation's most valuable natural resources. This museum is the only federally-chartered non-profit national mining museum. Admission to the museum is $7 for adults and $3 for children ages 6 through 12. There are family and group rates available, and becoming a member of the museum entitles you to discounts and other special benefits.
In the museum you can explore a number of displays and stories including a mining town model railroad. This railroad runs around and through a miniature mining town and gives train lovers and those interested in mining history a look into the life of a mining town, in miniature. The mining dioramas feature 22 intricate displays created by wood-carving artist Hank Gentsch. They depict the history and lifestyle of gold mining and will fascinate children with their tiny hand-carved details. There are numerous murals by artist Irving Hoffman that are painted snapshots into the historical moments in mining history. The museum is separated into display rooms, and features a crystal room filled with specimens of gold, silver, ore, minerals, and specimens on loan from the Smithsonian Institution and the Harvard Mineralogical Museum. Whether you are interested in mining, or you have a fascination for crystals and natural gemstones, this room will fascinate you. Also be sure to spend some time in the mineral exhibit room. The Peschel Collection is a fascinating display of ceremonial axes that were in use by German miners between the 12th and 18th centuries.
The museum features a gift shop which is a great place to pick up a gift from your trip through mining history. Far more than just a souvenir shop, the gift shop features a collection of gifts that educate and entertain. The Book Nook offers a variety of mining literature, the jewelry area offers numerous pieces designed with the gold, silver, and gemstones featured in the mines and at the museum, and the fine area collection which offers pieces created by local artisans in the Colorado area, depicting the beautiful landscapes of the area and the mining culture. Also check out the Mother Lode Art Gallery where you can explore artwork by local artists inspired by the landscapes and history of Colorado.
The National Mining Hall of Fame's website is a great resource for teachers and future visitors to enjoy. It offers information about many of the displays, posts the details of sponsor members of the museum, and offers some insight into the history and culture the museum features. If you will be taking a school group, or your own children, to the museum, it is a good idea to prepare them for the experience by browsing the website and discussing what they will learn before their trip. For a special view into the mining history of Colorado, visit the National Mining Hall of Fame in Leadville, Colorado.