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Colorado church is closest to heaven

Steeple reaches almost 2 miles above sea level in highest incorporated city

Published: Saturday, Aug. 15 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Church steeples symbolically stretch heavenward. Ironically, there's an extra-long steeple on the Annunciation Catholic Church in Leadville, Colo.

Leadville is the nation's highest-altitude incorporated city, at 10,200 feet above sea level, and so the city is already further skyward than any American city anyway.

Located on the southwest corner of Poplar and East 7th Streets, the Annunciation stands out in this almost two-mile-high community of about 3,000 residents. Its steeple is the town's highest man-made landmark.

Leadville is about 38 miles south of Vail, or 120 miles west of Denver.

This church was dedicated on New Year's Day in 1880 and its tall steeple required expert carpentry and includes a 3,026-pound bell.

The exterior walls of this magnificent church also include an unusual "Danger — Avalanche" sign. That's because with more than 300 inches of snowfall annually, any white stuff slipping off the lofty roof or steeple can be a significant hazard.

Also, the "Unsinkable Molly Brown" of Titanic sinking ship fame was married in this church on Sept. 1, 1886.

Leadville, a historic mining town, is also home to other historic churches.

However, Leadville lacks a Mormon congregation. The nearest LDS meetinghouses are in Frisco, Avon or Aspen — some 30 miles away, or more.

Colorado's two tallest mountains, Mount Elbert (14,433 feet) and Mount Massive (14,421) are both located west of Leadville and natural icons to the town.

e-mail: lynn@desnews.com

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