Disappearance of the Silver Queen | AspenTimes.com

Disappearance of the Silver Queen

In 1893, when there were rumblings in the nation’s capital about repealing the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, Aspen residents rallied around the importance of upholding the value of silver.

The Sherman Act kept the price of silver high by mandating the government buy 4.5 million ounces of silver bullion a month. As a result, millionaires were made in cities like Aspen and Leadville (Aspen led Colorado and the country in silver production).

An ominous drop in the price of silver in 1892 made locals nervous, and a committee was formed to impress upon the Eastern power brokers that repealing the Sherman Act would destroy the community.

Since the World’s Fair was to be held in Chicago during the summer of 1893, the committee decided to create the Silver Queen, a silver statue of a beautiful woman that would be seen by millions of people at the fair.

The $20,000 statue was 18 feet high, with a queen who rode in a chariot shaped like a barge with silver trimmings. On either side of her were boy attendants with dollars flowing from horns of plenty ” one representing silver, the other representing gold.

The Silver Queen was taken to the fair, but President Cleveland demonetized silver that summer. Eighty percent of Aspen’s enterprises were bankrupt by the end of the year, and the mining population dropped from 2,500 men to just 150.

The beautiful Silver Queen was moved to the Mineral Palace in Pueblo and put on display until the Palace was torn down in 1942. But then the whereabouts of the statue become a mystery: No one has seen it since.

Some theorize that a papier-mache version of the Silver Queen was sent to Pueblo for display, and that the true Aspen symbol is stored in a forgotten warehouse in Chicago.

Local historian Larry Fredrick says he knows exactly what happened to the statue. He claims that the Mineral Palace went through financial failure before it was torn down in 1942, and the palace staff smelted various specimens to pay the bills.

“I have a photo of the Silver Queen when they were dismantling the exhibition hall, and you can see clearly that all of the valuable pieces are gone,” he says. The rest ” her hair of spun glass and various papier-mache pieces gilded with silver ” were put in boxes and placed in a boathouse that has since been destroyed.

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