You Should’ve Seen It: Pueblo’s Mineral Palace Exhibit to Open at El Pueblo History Museum on September 9
PUEBLO, Colo., (August 31, 2022) Puebloans have enjoyed the Mineral Palace Park for decades, but many may not know its colorful history and grandiose beginnings.You Should’ve Seen It: Pueblo’s Mineral Palace follows the strange and little-known history of the Colorado Mineral Palace, which despite being an icon of the state and the city in the first half of the twentieth century, drifted into urban legend and folklore in the second half.
Grace Markley, Philosophy Communication
email@example.com | 720.421.9633
Museum curators have assembled oral histories, artifacts, archival documents, historic photographs, newspaper clippings, and more to tell the story of a palace built to showcase Colorado’s mineral riches. The exhibit opens on Friday, September 9 at History Colorado’s El Pueblo History Museum and will be housed in the museum’s International Hall. Locals will be pleased to learn that the beloved jeweled miniature of the Mineral Palace made by Carlos Otero is returning to El Pueblo History Museum after spending a few years at the History Colorado Center as part of the Zoom In exhibit.
Several years in the making, this retrospective is led by exhibit developer Devin Flores who sees in the Mineral Palace a compelling story that is emblematic of Pueblo’s history in the late 19th and early 20th century.
“We are excited to debut the Mineral Palace exhibit and give museum goers an opportunity to learn more about an iconic building that was once right here in Pueblo. The Palace represented the hopes and dreams of the people of Pueblo, and how they viewed their own present and prospective future,” comments Flores. “It’s a story worth telling as the legacy lives on in the name of the park and nearby businesses, the enduring mystery of the Silver Queen, and the future of the historic Mineral Palace Park, which continues to be impacted by expanding infrastructure and roadways.”
The Mineral Palace Origins and Brief History:
In the late 1800s, the Gilded Age was in full swing, and Colorado was one of the gems of the nation- literally- its mines producing vast fortunes in metals, minerals, and gemstones. Originally proposed as a mining exchange for investors to see Colorado’s geological assets, it evolved into a palace of minerals housing the world’s largest collection of rock, metals and gems. Built on twenty-seven acres of land north of downtown Pueblo, the Mineral Palace surroundings included a man-made lake, expansive flower gardens, a public bath house and even a small zoo.
The Mineral Palace opened on July 4, 1891 to coincide with the city’s Independence Day celebration and attracted thousands of visitors. Swedish immigrant Otto Bulow designed the palace to include huge columns and twenty-one domes as high as 70 feet. The Palace was also home to “royal” statues representing Colorado’s mining industry: King Coal, a 16-foot tall statue funded by the City of Trinidad and the 18-foot tall Silver Queen, paid for by the City of Aspen; both designed by local sculptor Hiram Johnson. The exhibit features life-sized tapestries of King Coal and the Silver Queen so that visitors can experience the magnitude of these statues.
The years that followed its construction were turbulent and unpredictable due to the silver market crash and eventually the Great Depression; the Palace declared bankruptcy twice in its first decade. The building fell into disrepair and eventually was demolished in 1943. One of the biggest mysteries of the Mineral Palace is what happened to its contents. For decades, rumors and urban legends have swirled about them being stolen or hidden, especially regarding the fate of King Coal and the Silver Queen.
Mineral Palace Park still serves as a center point of Pueblo culture. Generations of children have come to the park to enjoy its pool and playground, and the park is also the host to many of the city’s largest gatherings such as Pueblo Pride, the Cinco de Mayo Cruise and the Pueblo Multicultural Festival.
With new plans to expand Interstate 25, Mineral Palace Park is again directly threatened. The bandshell and bridge are both to be demolished, Lake Clara reduced again, and other park features may also be impacted. As shown by the story of the Mineral Palace, it is vital for our communities that citizens cherish and support their local parks and amenities before it is too little, too late.
You Should’ve Seen It: Pueblo’s Mineral Palace opens to the public on Friday, September 9 at El Pueblo History Museum. For museum hours and more information, visit ElPuebloHistoryMuseum.org.
About El Pueblo History Museum
History Colorado’s El Pueblo History Museum is located at 301 N. Union Avenue in the heart of historic downtown Pueblo, part of the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk District and the Pueblo Creative Corridor. The museum stands on the site of the original El Pueblo trading post, constructed in 1842. The museum site features beautiful galleries, a gift shop, bookstore, gardens, an active archaeological dig, and a recreation of the 1842 adobe trading post. Trading Post and archaeological tours are available from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Current exhibits include Borderlands of Southern Colorado, Hecho en Colorado, and the Museum of Memory.
El Pueblo History Museum is open Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit: ElPuebloHistoryMuseum.org or call 719.583.0453.
About History Colorado
History Colorado is a division of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and a 501(c)3 non-profit that has served more than 75,000 students and 500,000 people in Colorado each year. It is a 143-year-old institution that operates eleven museums and historic sites, a free public research center, the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, and the History Colorado State Historical Fund (SHF), which is the nation’s largest preservation program of its kind. More than 70% of SHF grants are allocated in rural areas of the state.
History Colorado’s mission is to create a better future for Colorado by inspiring wonder in our past. We serve as the state’s memory, preserving and sharing the places, stories, and material culture of Colorado through educational programs, historic preservation grants, collecting, outreach to Colorado communities, the History Colorado Center and Stephen H. Hart Research Center in Denver, and ten other museums and historic attractions statewide. History Colorado is one of only six Smithsonian Affiliates in Colorado. Visit HistoryColorado.org, or call 303-HISTORY, for more information.