Stepping inside the saloon is like stepping into the past. Many features throughout the building are the original pieces. One of the first things that can be seen is the windbreak, which serves a dual purpose. The structure helps keep the harsh Leadville winds and cold weather out. However, it was also used to obstruct the view of drinkers inside. At the time, women of moral standard did not go into such establishments, but if they could see their husbands drinking from the street a verbal lashing was sure to follow. The windbreak makes it impossible to see anything without fully entering the saloon.
Past the windbreak the original bar can be seen. Designed as a walk up bar only, the front bar was lined with a foot rail and a few brass spittoons along the floor. The white oak back bar, windbreak, swinging doors, the mahogany front bar, and the 3/4 inch diamond dust mirrors came from the Brunswick Company in St Louis Missouri. It took three weeks for the pieces to arrive, part by covered wagon and part by train. When the train arrived, it was completely gutted. The two booths in the bar were the seats on the train.
Around 1883, Shortly after the gun fight at the O.K. Corral, outlaw John Henry "Doc" Holiday moved to Leadville. He lived across the street above the Hymam Saloon. A dentist by trade, notorious gambler and gunfighter by reputation. On August 19, 1884 he shot ex-Leadville policeman Billy Allen, who had threatened him for failing to pay a $5 debt. Despite overwhelming evidence, a jury found him not guilty of the shooting or the attempted murder. While living in Leadville he frequented the Silver Dollar Saloon; trying his luck at gambling. Oftentimes he could be found dealing cards, tending bar, or playing the black piano that remains in the back room of the saloon to this day.
Margaret "Molly" Brown, known as "The Unsinkable Molly Brown", moved to Leadville when she was 18. In 1886 she married a mining engineer who was twelve years older, James J. Brown. Defying social expectations. Molly and John were frequent visitors to the saloon.
Oscar Wilde appeared at the Tabor Opera House during his 1882 American Aesthetic Movement lecture tour. After his lectures he would cross the street for drinks at the saloon. Wilde later recounted a visit to a local saloon, "Where I saw the only rational method of art criticism, I have come across over the piano was printed a notice, Please do not shoot the pianist. He is doing his best."
As with any old building The Legendary Silver Dollar Saloon is no stranger to the Paranormal. Walking through the back room, among the other pictures on the walls is a photo taken in the 1980's of one of our resident ghosts!
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