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PROSPECTING MINE TOURS AND MUSEUMS IN COLORADO

Colorado abounds in a rich history of gold and silver mining, and it also boasts it's fair share of mine tours and museums that support that history.  Each mining district had it's own problems,

  type of gold deposit, extraction, and difficulty or ease in finding and mining the minerals.  In the wake of mining, we have many underground mines that have been opened up to the public for tours.  Many are educational, but many are also ready to open again when the prices and situations are right.  Below you will find a compilation of most of the mines and museums open for tours to the tourist or day excursionist.  I do not have information at this time on prices for these tours, but I will include them if they are known.

ASPEN  is well known in the ski industry for its excellent ski slopes and winter time activities, but its' beginnings were in mining.  The Smuggler and Compromise Mines were among the most profitable and can be toured by making reservations at 970-925-3699 or 970-925-2049.  The tour is located at 110 Smuggler Mt. Rd., in Aspen, Colorado.


BRECKENRIDGE,  once known as "no man's land", has three mines that can be toured within about 5 miles of downtown.  The Country Boy Mine, located at 542 French Gultch Rd east of Breckenridge, gives you a great tour of the mine, gold panning at the end, and has a wonderful souvenir shop. 970-453-4405.  The family owned and operated tour is delightful, and kids of all ages will enjoy it.  The "miners" outhouse is an experience not to be missed, and the equipment they have sitting in the well mapped out yard will entertain even the most diehard of prospectors.  Hooked on Gold always enjoys spending a few hours there each summer.  The Lomax Placer at 301 Ski Hill Rd., is a museum made up of several restored building from the mining era, with a guide who is extremely informative about the times the buildings were used in.  The Chamber of Commerce on the northern end of town can give you the seasons times when the guide will be available.  The last time we were there, you could only access the area when the guide was there, so check with the Chamber for these times.  Last in the Breckenridge area is the Washington Mine . It is located at 465 Illinois Gultch Rd.  I am not familiar with this tour, but, as with the Lomax, check with the Chamber for times.


CENTRAL CITY's  history includes the town of Black Hawk, both tied to each other as one produced the ore and the other processed it. The Gilpin County Historical Society Museum preserves its' rich history at 228 E. High St., phone 303-582-5283.  Calling 303-989-2861 will get you a reservation to tour the HIDEE MINE on County Rd. 6., a short drive back down the mountain on the new highway.  When you get your instructions, be a sharp lookout for the turn, as it is sudden.  The Hidee supplies ore samples that are put into the little canvas bags you buy everywhere.  While the ore looks to be pyrite (which it is), gold was carried into the pours and cracks of the pyrite over time by waters that the gold had dissolved in, where the gold was then deposited in the pyrite.  If you go, you may get a chance to dig for the ore yourself.


COLORADO SPRINGS   The Western Museum of Mining and Industry is located north of Colorado Springs at the north entrance to the Air Force Academy.  Off of the Northgate exit, turn east instead of going west to the Academy, travel about a half mile and turn right into the parking lot.  The museum boasts many working mining and milling pieces of equipment, and you can browse the gift store and pan for gold, too.  The physical address is 1025 Northgate Rd. and phone is 719-488-0880 or 1-800-752-6558.   

CREEDE  The Creede Underground Mining Museum, located at USFS Rd. 503, #9 in Creede, Co., is a fascinating look at mining in the Creede area.  Known for their Amethyst crystals, the mining tour goes through all of the aspects of mining underground and has a wonderful gift shop at the end of the tour.  Creede was rich in mining history and a trip through the area deserves a stop at the tour and to explore the surrounding mining district.  They can be reached at 719-658-0811 for ticket prices and information.

The Last Chance Mine is a step back in time.  Originally a silver  mine, miners knew that they needed to keep to the amethyst to stay in the silver ore body.  Renovations of the property are ongoing and Creede is currently in a fight for the right to keep its' roads open.  Denver Real Estate developers are suing to close roads to create a gated community, and have said that they will keep the Creede City Council in court until they capitulate "just because they can".  visit www.thelastchancemine.com for more information on this property and the fight that will change how roads are managed in Colorado.


CRIPPLE CREEK   Along with the gambling casinos in Cripple Creek, you can also find the Cripple Creek District Museum at 5th and Bennett Aves., and the Mollie Kathleen Mine, 1 mile north on Hwy. 67. Both are marvelous tours, and the Mollie Kathleen has a great gift and treasure shop on site.  Take a breathtaking trip down the shaft in the Mollie Kathleen, and ride her rails underground, too. 

DENVER:  Many of the earliest records of gold in Colorado were first made in the Denver area.  The Denver Museum of Nature and Science hosts a section on gold and minerals along with being home to some of Colorado's most famous gold pieces.  A newer item is the million dollar Aquamarine find from Mt. Antero, reconstructed to the way it was found in the original pocket.


GEORGETOWN   Two great tours in Georgetown, along with their great downtown shops, are the Georgetown Loop Railroad, and the Lebanon Mine Tour that is on the railroad tour, at 111 Rose St..  The loop is a narrow gauge rail ride like the one in Durango, but shorter.  It winds its' way to Silver Plum some 3 miles away by car, and is really something to enjoy.  The scenery on the way and back is great, and the loop that starts and ends the journey is unlike anything else you will experience outside an amusement park.  The train takes the loop at a slow speed due to the tightness of the turn, and gives the rider a panoramic view of the town and mountains.  While on the loop, take the Lebanon Mine Tour that is situated half way through the ride.  Tickets for the mine tour will be added to your train ride as it is only accessible from the train and is an added charge.  You can call 303-569-2403 or 1-800-691-4FUN for ticket prices and departure schedules.


GOLDEN   Golden sits at the mouth of Clear Creek Canyon, one of the narrowest canyons in Colorado. Originally, only accessible by rail, highway 6 now winds its' way through to what were mining camps and on to Idaho Springs.  It seems odd that all of this was once accessible only by rail, and the number of people who traversed the canyon is amazing.  Many did go overland, but it was the harder, more arduous way.  Any one who has traveled Floyd Hill can attest to the white knuckle ride that can be, and appreciate travelers of a hundred years ago.  In Golden, you will find the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum at 16th and Maple St.  The college puts together a fine mineral and gemstone collection that changes with what pieces they can borrow for display.  The Edgar Mine in Idaho Springs is the teaching mine for the college, and students use the mine to practice techniques for the real world.  Call for their schedule at 303-273-3815.


IDAHO SPRINGS was home to a large mining community, and today still has mine and mill tours that you can take.  The first one you will see in Idaho Springs is the ARGO Tunnel and Mill across Clear Creek in the middle of town. You can tour the ARGO mill each day in the summer.  Check at the entrance for times and prices.  Up the road a piece and back across the creek you will find the PHOENIX Mine tour.  The Phoenix is open year round (if you're hardy enough and the boys are willing) to tour. Call 303-567-2911 for information.  A very nice example of hard rock mining with many artifacts and pieces of equipment that the miners used.  Owner Al Mosche's family have been in mining in Colorado for over a hundred years, and he has a passel of stories to tell if you egg him on a bit.  Next is the EDGAR MINE, run by the School of Mines in Golden for use in practical experience for students, they will allow tours by appointments.  Located at 358 8th Ave. and phone 303-567-2911.  Check the chamber of Commerce for additional information on walking tours in Idaho Springs and car tours of the mining district.  Be aware that some of these roads are 4 wheel drive.  DO take it seriously.


LAFAYETTE Miners Museum is located at 108 E. Simpson St, in Lafayette, Colorado, phone 303-665-7030.  We have not toured this mine, but we will be getting more information on it in the near future.


LAKE CITY  Hard Tack Mine can be found at Hanson Creek & Engineer Pass Road, 970-944-2506, is another tour we have not taken.  The adventure will be yours!


LEADVILLE  Leadville was one of Colorado's largest mining districts and has several very good tours you can take.  The National Mining Hall of Fame Museum, located at 120 W. 9th, Leadville, Co.  80461, 719-486-1229, is one of the mining museums you should not miss if you are in the area.  At 11,000 feet, you will need to take it slower going through it as it has a lot of stairs.  They have special displays go through all of the time.  It is, also, now combined with the Matchless Mine Tour of Horace Tabor and Baby Doe fame. There are also several other historic museums in the area of the Hall of Fame.  I know of them, but for some reason are not on the list I am working from.  I will get that information posted as soon as I find it.


OURAY   Nestled in the rugged San Juan Mountains, known as the "Switzerland" of Colorado, Ouray was one of the busy mining towns in the area, and at the north entrance to the mountains.  From here, many mining expeditions deep into the mountains started out.  The Bachelor Syracuse Mine, at 1222 CR 14 in Ouray, is a journey into the side of the mountain by rail cart and hard hat, and takes you through the mining experience with the excellent guidance of its crew.  Phone 970-325-0220 in summer and 1-800-932-6337 in winter for information.  Don't miss the Ouray County Historical Society Museum at 420 Sixth St. either for some local history.  Phone 970-3225-4565 or 970-325-4075 for information.

SALIDA   In addition to the many hot springs in the area, Salida also provides the Lost Mine Tour.  Write to them at P.O. Box 3, Salida, Co., or call 719-221-6463 for information.


SILVERTON  On the other side of the "Million Dollar Highway" from Ouray you will find Silverton.  The town includes a ski resort in winter that is run by a local family, and its' population varies with seasons and interests in the area.  Roads around Silverton run past many milling and mining sites and you can also find a couple of local mining tours.  The Mayflower Mill, located 2 miles N. of Silverton on Hwy 110 and CR2, is one and the other, the Old Hundred Gold Mine at 721 CR 4A in Silverton will give you a view to both aspects of mining....drilling and blasting, and milling.  Mayflower phone is 970-387-0294 and the Old Hundred is 970-387-5444 or 1-800-872-3009 for information.


VICTOR   To the south and east of Cripple Creek you will find the sleepy little town of Victor, where there resides one of the largest heap leach gold mines in the U.S.  The Cripple Creek and Victor Mine is known for its' ability to extract small amounts of gold from tailing ores as well as those newly mined.  You will also find the Lowell Thomas Museum at 298 Victor Ave. in Victor, Co.  80860, phone 719-689-5509, where much of the towns' history is preserved.


WALSENBURG  At 101 E. 5th St. in Walsenburg you will find the Walsenburg Mining Museum, phone 719-738-1992.  The museum chronicles the rich mining history of the area.  This is an area that Hooked on Gold has long wished to spend some time in, but alas, other areas siren songs call louder.  For now, we will heed their cal, but Walsenburg calls.  Also rich in Spanish and Indian history, the area has been host to many different cultures and people.


This concludes all of the mining tours and museums that we are aware of in Colorado at this time.  We will add more as we come across them, or if you know of one we can add, please let us know where they are and a short description of what is offered.  You can contact us at hookedongold@msn.com

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