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John F. Campion​
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John F. Campion’s energy, intelligence, and drive were key factors in the development of the mining industry in Leadville, Colorado. Widely known as “Leadville Johnny,” he built a fortune in mining, was successful in a variety of other businesses, and contributed greatly to cultural activity in Colorado. John Campion was born in Prince Edward Island, Canada and moved with his parents to California in 1865. He began his mining career as a prospector in California and Nevada and at the age of 20 discovered the White Pine silver mine. He owned and developed the Pioche-Phoenix Mining Company in Nevada.​

In 1879, Campion transferred his activity to booming Leadville, Colorado, where he formed the Iron Hill Consolidated Mining Company. He mastered the geology of the Leadville district, owning and developing a number of producing properties designated by animal names. Among these were the Bison, Reindeer, Elk, and, most famously, the Ibex, which came to include the prolific Little Jonny mine. The Little Jonny had been developed in 1879 at the height of Leadville’s silver boom; however, by the early 1890s the mine seemed to be playing out. John Campion acquired the Little Jonny in 1890 and consolidated it into his Ibex property. In 1893, a dramatic fall in silver prices sank Leadville into a depression. In that same year, Campion hired J.J. Brown as superintendent of the Little Jonny and invested $30,000 to find more ore at the mine. Brown timbered through notoriously unstable ground that had stopped earlier miners and discovered large deposits of high-grade gold-copper ore. Within a year, the Little Jonny was paying its investors $1 million per year, and feverish exploration was under way on the new “Leadville Gold Belt.” One key to this revival of mining in Leadville was the intelligent use of new machinery and mining methods to operate deep and lower-grade mines. Leadville Johnny Campion was a leader in applying what was then state-of-the-art technology, including core drilling, to develop and extend the life of mines.​

Among his many later business interests, John Campion was Vice President of the Denver Northwestern Pacific Railway (the famous Moffat Road) and President of the Big Horn Land and Cattle Company. As a founder of the Great Western Sugar Company, he helped bring the sugar beet industry to Colorado. John Campion placed much of his fortune in the service of the communities where he lived and worked.  He was a founder of the Denver Museum of Natural History (now the Denver Museum of Nature and Science) and the first President of its Board of Trustees. He built a great collection of some 600 native gold specimens and in 1900 donated the collection to the Museum, where his collection is now the core of one of the world’s premier collections of native gold.​

John Campion was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He served as President of the Municipal Art League of Denver. He was President of the Denver Chamber of Commerce in 1898-99 and arranged for transfer of its library to what is now the Denver Public Library. Leadville Johnny’s energy and spirit continue to enrich the citizens of Colorado and the United States. He contributed his wealth to the world he knew. His monument is in the hearts of those who continue to benefit from his generosity.​