As the first woman in the California Gulch district, Augusta Louise Tabor, fondly remembered as “The First Lady of Leadville,” spent much of her life in helping make Leadville a great mining camp.
She was born in Maine and, in 1857, married the now famous mining magnate, Horace Tabor, who was then a stone mason. The Tabors heard rumors of gold strikes near Pike’s Peak and in 1859 headed for Colorado. They first located their mining operations in the Idaho Springs area where Augusta worked as cook, nurse and laundress for the miners, while Horace operated their placer claims. Before long, they moved on to the mining turmoil of the California Gulch district in the Leadville area. There, Augusta’s expertise at weighing gold kept her extremely busy. The Tabors owned the only scales in the district and the majority of the miners knew little of the painstaking process involved with the weighing of gold. When not busy running the scales, she was mining for the precious metal herself.
She was probably conducting the first mining operations undertaken by a woman in Colorado. She knew as much or more about the business of mining as most of the district’s men and possessed courage enough to combat the hardships of the western frontier. Through hard work and determination, Augusta Tabor earned the right to be honoured alongside the noted mining men of her era. It is partly due to her efforts that Leadville became the greatest silver camp in the world and her devotion contributed to making her husband, H.A.W. Tabor, the greatest mining magnate in the West