Leadville is the statutory city that is the county seat and only incorporated municipality in Lake County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 2,602 at the 2010 census and an estimated 2,893 in 2018. Leadville is situated at an elevation of 10,152 feet (3,094 m). Originally called “Silver City”, Leadville was the first proposed capital of the state and the last place Doc Holliday was a lawman.
At an elevation of 10,152 feet (3,094 m), Leadville lies close to timberline, which in Colorado is from 11,000 to 12,000 feet (3,400 to 3,700 m). The surrounding peaks are all well above 12,000 feet, and are thus bare of trees. Leadville has the highest elevation of any city in the United States.
Leadville lies in a valley at the headwaters of the Arkansas River which flows through the southern Rocky Mountains and eventually empties into the Mississippi River. It is situated between two mountain ranges, the Mosquito Range to the east and the Sawatch Range to the west, both of which include several nearby peaks with elevations above 14,000 feet (4,300 m), the so-called fourteeners. Mount Elbert, 12 miles (19 km) southwest of Leadville, is the highest summit of the Rocky Mountains of North America and the highest point in the Colorado and the entire Mississippi River drainage basin. An ultra-prominent 14,440-foot (4,401 m) fourteener, Mount Elbert is the highest summit of the Sawatch Range and the second-highest summit in the contiguous United States after Mount Whitney in California. Mount Massive, 10.6 mi (17.1 km) west-southwest of Leadville, at 14,428 ft (4,398 m) is the second highest summit in the Rocky Mountains and state of Colorado, and the third highest in the contiguous United States.
Turquoise Lake lies on the western outskirts of Leadville. The surface available for recreation includes 780 acres (320 ha). Turquoise Lake is a feature of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project. Recreation is managed by the Forest Service for the Bureau of Reclamation as part of San Isabel National Forest.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city of Leadville has an area of 1.1 square miles (2.9 km), all of it recorded as land. The lower part of California Gulch runs past the southern edge of the city, flowing west 3 miles (5 km) to the Arkansas River.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,821 people, 1,253 households, and 675 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,659.5 people per square mile (1,027.5/km²). There were 1,514 housing units at an average density of 1,427.3 per square mile (551.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 83.52% White, 0.14% African American, 1.28% Native American, 0.32% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 12.34% from other races, and 2.30% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 25.45% of the population.
There were 1,253 households out of which 24.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.7% were married couples living together, 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.1% were non-families. 35.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.91.
In the city, the population was spread out with 22.1% under the age of 18, 12.1% from 18 to 24, 34.4% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64, and 10.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 109.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 107.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $36,714, and the median income for a family was $44,444. Males had a median income of $28,125 versus $23,512 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,607. About 9.1% of families and 13.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.5% of those under age 18 and 7.5% of those age 65 or over.