It's only a memory now, but the community of Climax was once called home by several generations of Colorado mining families.
In its early years, Climax struggled to keep quality employees. Cold and snow, isolation and high altitude sent many workers packing after only a few shifts. An ambitious effort to build a true community began in 1936. One hundred homes, 43 apartment units, a 171-room hotel, dining hall, hospital and school were built in a single frantic summer of construction. A recreation hall was also built, with a gym that doubled as movie theatre, bowling alley, pool hall and library. Climax, once known as "that hellhole in the sky," had become a real town. A three-room house rented for $12/month, health insurance cost $18 per year and employee turnover shrank to a trickle.
By the 1950's, Climax had a population of nearly 2,000 people and a reputation as the best company town in the United States. Employment was 100 percent, pay was good, crime was virtually non-existent and the school, hospital, recreation facilities and shopping were among the finest in Colorado. Even though high-altitude cooking frustrated most housewives, who often had to rely on melting icicles for drinking water, it would be hard to find a former Climax resident who would not call it a great place to live, work and
raise a family.
When open-pit mining operations began in the early 1960's, the town of Climax was in the way. Its buildings were moved to Leadville, and today virtually nothing remains of one of Colorado's most memorable mining towns.