The discovery of the Black Cloud, mine, in Leadville, Colorado, had its beginning in the purchase of two small mines by a Philadelphia lace merchant and was achieved through, the combined efforts of the engineering and geological staffs of two major mining companies, Newmont and ASARCO. The story behind tine discovery begins in iMladelphia early in 1881 with the 53-year-old owner of a prosperous lace and embroidery business. Meyer Guggenheim knew nothing of mines and had never traveled west of the Mississippi River. He had acquired a fortune of a million dollars from various businesses and was responsible for a maturing family of seven sons. For $5,000 he purchased a one-half interest in two lackluster lead-silver mines located in California Gulch near Leadville, Colorado. Mining began in Leadville with a gold strike in 1859 and had recently boomed with, the discovery of rich Pb-Ag carbonate ores. Production of gold, silver, and lead from the district torough the end of 1880 totaled more than $35.7 million, but little of this had come from Mayer Guggenheim's mines, the A.Y. and the Minnie. During the months following his purchase, Guggenheim invested nearly $70,000 in dewatering, sinking new shafts, and -underground development, until in August, when his faith in mining investments surely must have then near collapse, he received word of a rich strike at the A.Y. By 1888 the A.Y. and the Minnie were earning him about $750,000 a year. Prior to their exhaustion in 1902 and eventual sale, the two mines netted the Guggenheim family over $15 million. This second fortune enabled them to build one of the greatest mining empires the world has known. From this beginning evolved three corporations which proved to the major forces in the minerals industry of the Western Hemisphere during the Twentieth Century: The American Smelting and Refining Company (now ASARCO Incorporated), Guggenheim Brothers (discoverer of Chuquicamata, El Salvador, and other important deposits), and the Kennecott Copper Corporation.