April 9, 2017
Historic Colorado Gold Mines Today
In 1858 around the area of present-day Denver, small deposit of gold were discovered. Starting from that day, Colorado gold mines were on the rise. It took only about a year before miners came across an important discovery in the Central City-Idaho Springs district. Gold mining has been a major industry in Colorado since more than a century ago, and in fact it played major role in the establishment of the state.
More than 3 million ounces have been produced by a number of Colorado gold mines. The southeastern part of the state, particularly the Telluride District, made a major contribution to the total production. The same thing for the southwest although most gold found in this part of the state has been a byproduct of other metal mining activities such as silver, lead, and copper. Summit County in Central Colorado contributed about 1 million ounces of gold from both lode and placer deposits.
One of the richest areas was the Breckenridge district. Hydraulic mining was the primary method of production in the creeks. The method of choice in Swan River was dredging, and you can still see some dredge piles today in the area. Another notable location was Frisco District although gold production came as a byproduct. By 1920, there were 41 Colorado gold mines producing more than 500 tons of gold. Today the only gold mine in operation is Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mine located near Colorado Springs. It is basically an open pit owned by Newmont Mining Corporations. In 2016, the mine produced about 11 tons of gold.
For modern day prospectors, Colorado still has a lot of potential especially in the western and central part of the state. Millions in gold have been found, and there is probably more waiting to be discovered. There does not seem to be another rise for more mines, however. Gold mining is increasingly becoming an interesting recreational activity. Less-friendly terrain also makes the state an ideal place for backpackers to wander around the wilderness and try their luck. Some old abandon gold mines may still contain considerable amounts, and the metal detector is the most dependable equipment for this purpose. The Telluride District in San Miguel County has small placer gold deposits all around the place, but lode gold mining is not financially viable except for large companies due to the low-grade ores that require extra work for them to be profitable. No one knows where the gold is, so there is always an equal chance for everybody.