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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Silverton in San Juan County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)
 

Mayflower Mill

 
 
Mayflower Mill Marker image. Click for full size.
By James Hulse, July 6, 2021
1. Mayflower Mill Marker
Inscription.  

The large complex in the background is the Mayflower Mill. It was built in 1929 to process ore from the Mayflower Mine as well as other mines in the Silverton area. It was constructed by the Shenandoah Dives Mining Company to extract gold, silver, and base metals - copper, lead, and zinc by the flotation L process. During the war years, over 40 small mines shipped ore to it. Except for a few years in the 1950s it ran continuously for nearly 60 years. Over 10 million tons of ore yielding over 1.5 million ounces of gold and 30 million ounces of silver were processed. When the Mayflower Mill closed in 1991, it was the second oldest operating gold mill in the United States.

Ore from the Mayflower Mine in Arrastra Gulch was carried nearly two miles on an aerial tram to the mill while miners often rode the buckets up to work. Since the heavily loaded buckets ran downhill, gravity did all the work and little power was needed to pull the empty buckets back up to the mine. Later, ore from the Sunnyside Mine was trucked to the mill.

In 1957, the Mayflower Mill became the movie set for James Stewart and Audie Murphy in the
The Mayflower Mill and Marker image. Click for full size.
By James Hulse, July 6, 2021
2. The Mayflower Mill and Marker
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classic western film "Night Passage." A big gunfight was staged at the mill and the heroine escaped harm by riding the tram bucket to safety.

The Mayflower Mill is now owned by the San Juan County Historical Society. Daily tours are offered in the summer months.

Captions
1. The Mayflower Mill in the 1930s.
- Photo courtesy of San Juan County Historical Society

2. Charles A. Chase developed the Shenandoah-Dives Mine complex in the late 1920s. He built the Mayflower Mill in 1929 to process ore from the mine. A tram line was built to carry the ore from the mine portal at 11,200 feet down to the mill, two miles away. Even though metal prices were low at the time, Chase's technical innovation, efficient management, and humanistic labor policy produced a viable enterprise with the base metals copper, lead, and zinc paying for the operation of the mill, and the precious metals gold and silver producing profit.

"Papa Chase" as he was known by the men, ran the mine and mill until well into his 70s until low metals prices forced closure in 1953. But his vision and legacy lived on when the Mayflower Mill reopened for the Sunnyside Mine and continued to provide needed jobs for Silverton and metals to the nation until 1991.
- Photo courtesy of San Juan County Historical Society

3. By early August, 1929, nearly half of
The Mayflower Mill Marker is the second marker from the left of the four markers image. Click for full size.
By James Hulse, July 6, 2021
3. The Mayflower Mill Marker is the second marker from the left of the four markers
the building is complete only six weeks after construction began. Oregon fir timbers were set with a gin-pole above the main flotation deck. Concrete was poured at the top level of the mill while finish work such as windows was completed at the bottom level. Building from the bottom to the top permitted rapid installation in the short summer. The rough pine siding was painted aluminum in 1932 and covered with steel siding in the 1970s.
- All photos courtesy of San Juan County Historical Society

4. After the rod mill grinds ore to a diameter of less than 1/10th of an inch, the muddy "pulp" is discharged into the bottom of the spiral classifier. Set on an incline, the spiral slowly turns, pulling the larger ore particles upward while the finer particles wash out and flow downward. After reaching the top of the classifier, the coarse particles are carried down the launder to the ball mill for a "regrind." The finer material at the bottom flow to the first set of gold jigs and then into the flotation circuit to start the recovery process.

5. Unlike previous trams built in the San Juans, the Shenandoah Dives tram used tall steel towers rather than short wooden ones. This allowed for longer spans to avoid the rugged topography beneath. The towers were prefabricated, pieces numbered, and hauled to each site by mules. Riggers erected each tower by hand using a "gin-pole"
The view of the markers from the parking lot image. Click for full size.
By James Hulse, July 6, 2021
4. The view of the markers from the parking lot
- a center pole supported by cables which can be used to raise pieces above the finished level by hand.

 
Erected by San Juan County Historical Society, U.S. Department of the Interior - Bureau of Land Management.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceRailroads & Streetcars. A significant historical year for this entry is 1929.
 
Location. 37° 49.442′ N, 107° 38.079′ W. Marker is near Silverton, Colorado, in San Juan County. Marker is on County Highway 2, 0.4 miles west of County Highway 52, on the right when traveling east. The marker is located next to several other markers at a small parking lot on the south side of the road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Silverton CO 81433, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Tailings Ponds Reclamation (here, next to this marker); Mayflower Mill Tailing Ponds (here, next to this marker); Wealth of Mining History (here, next to this marker); Arrastra Gulch (approx. half a mile away); San Juan County Memorial (approx. 1˝ miles away); Silverton Northern Caboose 1005 (approx. 1.6 miles away); S.R.R. Caboose (approx. 1.6 miles away); San Juan County Historical Society Museum (approx. 1.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Silverton.
 
Also see . . .  Alpine Loop.
A view of the Mayflower Mill on the mountain image. Click for full size.
By James Hulse, July 6, 2021
5. A view of the Mayflower Mill on the mountain
The Alpine Loop is truly a backcountry experience. Make sure someone knows your travel plans and do your homework before you start your trip. Make sure you have plenty of water, food and fuel to make it to your destination. Electronics and wireless devises DO NOT work in most places on the Alpine Loop. It is recommended that you download or print hard copy maps prior to your trip. The Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway is a rugged 4x4 road that winds through the spectacular scenery of the San Juan Mountains, connecting Lake City, Silverton, and Ouray. The Alpine Loop byway traverses passes up to 12,800 feet while showcasing old mines, ghost towns, natural wonders, beautiful wildflowers, and abundant wildlife. Alpine Loop is an avenue for exploring nature and history amidst thrilling views and stunning geography. Tackling the loop in its entirety is easily an all-day experience event. However, the main loop is only part of the experience; miles of designated side routes allow visitors to either take a short tour or extend their trip to multiple days. For more information, please contact the Gunnison Field Office.
(Submitted on July 21, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 21, 2021. It was originally submitted on July 20, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas. This page has been viewed 73 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on July 21, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.

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Nov. 29, 2021