Down in the Hole

The old coal-mining town of Leyden is a tough place--but not too tough to die.

"Before they modernized, it was really in the boonies," says Annie Davis. "Arvada was nine miles away, and we always shopped in old Arvada before everything built up. There were only two or three farmhouses from Quaker over to 64th, and most people had horses."

The coal mine was already closed when the Davises arrived, but there were many reminders of the role coal played in Leyden's history. Crumbling buildings left over from mining operations dotted the hillsides, and Paul Davis still remembers the day one of the coal seams caught fire.

"I went over to try to put it out," he recalls. "They had fire trucks come." Nobody seemed to be able to extinguish the blaze, however. The fire continued to smolder for days, and townspeople stood watch to sound the alert should the wind change. Finally, remembers Davis, somebody came up with a solution to stamp out the stubborn blaze, which by then had assumed a life of its own: They paved it over with concrete.

Like the fire, Leyden has shown a remarkable ability to survive against the odds. But its residents know the once-remote place they love is destined to change.

Frank Pacheco, who built most of his house himself, stands in his garage and worries about the new faces he sees whizzing through town on their way to the new subdivisions. "Someday they'll come and buy this town out," he says. "People with money can do anything they want.

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