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

Bonanza Empire Chief

 
 
Bonanza Empire Chief Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, July 8, 2021
1. Bonanza Empire Chief Marker
Inscription.  

The history of the Bonanza Empire Chief Mine and Mill mirrors the stories told of fleeting fortunes throughout the San Juan Mountains. The initial discovery of the Bonanza Lode was made on July 4, 1885. Little work was completed on the claim until 1901 when the Henson Creek Lead Mines Company issued $1,500,000 in Capital Stock and began constructing the three-story concentration mill.

Over the next few years, little underground work was performed, yet above-ground facilities were developed including an electric power plant, a boarding house, and a blacksmith shop. At the same time, bonds were issued to raise funds needed to cover mounting debts. In 1906, over 3,700 feet of drifts were driven into the mountain as miners followed promising veins of ore that contained galena, zinc, silver, and gold. Unfortunately, as was often the case in hard rock mining, the promise of fortune was short-lived and the mine once again shut down in 1907.

The Bonanza Empire Chief experienced a brief revival in the 1920s when the mill was retooled; however, little high-quality ore was produced. In 1929, the mill was once again reworked,
The Bonanza Empire Chief Marker is the marker on the left of the two markers image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, July 8, 2021
2. The Bonanza Empire Chief Marker is the marker on the left of the two markers
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but low ore values, rising coal prices, legal battles, transportation problems, national financial problems, and a devastating avalanche forced the mine to close. The Bonanza Empire Chief Mine and Mill was eventually liquidated in a series of Sheriff's Sales.

The Bonanza Empire Chief Mill was stabilized in 2000 by the Bureau of Land Management and the Hinsdale County Historical Society. Unfortunately, an avalanche in February 2008 destroyed the structure.

Captions
1. The Empire Chief Mill on Henson Creek in 1929
-Photo courtesy of Dorothy B. Kelley & Hinsdale County Museum — Hinsdale County Historical Society

2. An aerial tram was installed to transport ore from the mine portal (entrance) to the Empire Chief Mill.
-Photo courtesy of Dorothy B. Kelley & Hinsdale County Museum - Hinsdale County Historical Society

3. An advertisement used to entice potential investors on the merits of the Bonanza Empire Chief mining venture, circa 1925.
-Photo courtesy of Hinsdale County Museum - Hinsdale County Historical Society

4. "We believe the Empire Chief is one of the cleanest and most meritorious money making propositions before the public today. We believe it is an outstanding opportunity ... Not for a few small dividends, But Big Dividends; Continuous For Years and Years."
-F.W. Miller
The ruins of the avalanche destroyed Bonanza Empire Chief Mill image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, July 8, 2021
3. The ruins of the avalanche destroyed Bonanza Empire Chief Mill
and Company, Investment Securities, Denver, CO

 
Erected by U.S. Department of the Interior - Alpine Loop.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Industry & Commerce. A significant historical month for this entry is February 2008.
 
Location. 37° 58.436′ N, 107° 31.349′ W. Marker is near Lake City, Colorado, in Hinsdale County. Marker is on Highway 20, 4½ miles west of Highway 24, on the right when traveling west. The marker is located along the the 4x4 portion of the Alpine Loop about 13 1/2 miles west of Lake City. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Lake City CO 81235, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. White Death (here, next to this marker); Rose Lime Kiln (approx. 1.4 miles away); Tellurium or Was It Whitecross (approx. 2.6 miles away); A Town with Three Names (approx. 2.6 miles away); Ute Homeland (approx. 3.4 miles away); Lee's Legacy (approx. 3.7 miles away); The William Duncan House (approx. 4 miles away); Animas Forks (approx. 4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lake City.
 
Also see . . .  Alpine Loop.
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
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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 24, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 24, 2021. It was originally submitted on July 24, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas. This page has been viewed 118 times since then and 55 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 24, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.

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Dec. 8, 2022