The first prospectors wintered in "Three Forks of the Animas" in 1873, looking for silver and gold. In 1875 the name was changed to Animas Forks to accommodate the Post Office Department, and funds were committed by the San Juan County . . . — — Map (db m177689) HM
High Mountain Hopes
The Hardrock Miners who arrived in Animas Forks in the 1870s envisioned the birth of a city, built deep in the mountains, with all the modern conveniences of telephone, telegraph, electric service, and a narrow gauge . . . — — Map (db m211817) HM
Arrastra Gulch - Where It All Began
Of all the gulches in the San Juan Mining District, few spanned a full century of activity and none had the diversity of mining companies as Arrastra Gulch. It began in 1870 with the discovery of gold . . . — — Map (db m177654) HM
The Chattanooga Post Office was established on April 4, 1883, at the head of Mineral Creek. Originally called Sweetville, this small mining community served as a southern staging area for supplies and people coming into the Red Mountain Mining . . . — — Map (db m179022) HM
In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, towns came and went in the San Juan Mountains as abruptly as gusts of wind. A promising mineral strike might spawn a complete settlement - houses, a general store, saloons, . . . — — Map (db m177508) HM
The La Plata Miner newspaper began publication on July 10, 1875, after newspaper pioneer John R. Curry managed to haul an old press by pack mule over Stony Pass. The Silverton Standard newspaper began operations in 1889. The two newspapers merged . . . — — Map (db m176710) HM
Howardsville was the first attempted settlement on the Western Slope of Colorado Territory, although the community was never platted or incorporated. The town was founded in 1874, received the first post office designation in the San Juan . . . — — Map (db m177655) HM
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, . . . — — Map (db m177656) HM
What are Tailings?
In the Silverton region, ore generally contained. only about 5% valuable metals, typically a mixture of lead, zinc, copper, silver, and gold. Most mines sent their ore to a nearby processing plant, known as a mill, which . . . — — Map (db m177662) HM
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
If not for the Denver & Rio Grande Railway, Silverton might have vanished long ago. The twisting, turning, forty-five-mile spur from Durango took nine months to build; when it finally opened in . . . — — Map (db m177483) HM
Law and Order on the Frontier
Imagine arriving in Silverton in 1903. You're a burly miner, traveling from the metropolis of Denver to the remote high country of the San Juan. You step off the train onto "Notorious" Blair Street, ready to . . . — — Map (db m177564) HM
This shaft can, held about two tons of ore and required an electric- or steam powered hoist to lift it out of the shaft.
Shaft cans or "sinking skips" came in different sizes and shapes depending on the size of the shaft and the type of . . . — — Map (db m177543) HM
In 1860, Charles Baker and several prospectors entered the San Juan Mountains in search of wealth. They soon found deposits of gold and silver along the Animas River in an area that was later called "Baker's Park." The prospectors stayed through . . . — — Map (db m177513) HM
"One feels," wrote an early Silverton settler, "as if he is shut off from the rest of the world." A fair assessment: In 1874, when its first buildings appeared, the hamlet lay 125 miles from the nearest post office. Though railroad service . . . — — Map (db m177495) HM
Freight trains commonly had a caboose at the end. In 1871, its first year of operation, the Denver and Rio Grande (D&RG) railroad had four cabooses made by Billmeyer & Small. D&RG built 84 more, similar to their design, between . . . — — Map (db m177561) HM
Located at 9,318 feet above sea level, Silverton is the "Mining Town that Never Quit". Once the hub of four railroads, Silverton was the Queen City of the San Juan's. Captain Charles Baker led a party into this wide valley in 1860 in search of . . . — — Map (db m176652) HM
Railroads were vitally important to the development of mines, hauling out ore and bringing in coal and supplies. They made mining lower grade ore profitable. Railroads were lifelines in supplying the needs of the people in the mining communities. . . . — — Map (db m177535) HM
Railroads were vitally important to the development of mines, hauling out ore and bringing in coal and supplies. They made mining lower grade ore profitable. Railroads were lifelines in supplying the needs of the people in the mining communities. . . . — — Map (db m178404) HM
This swivel end-dump car has a 1-1/2 ton capacity of ore. It could be handled by a single person and dumped by hand.
These small, swivel end-dump cars were most commonly called "one-ton cars," yet they came in a number of sizes ranging from . . . — — Map (db m177552) HM
Reclamation in Action
During its more than half century of operation, the Mayflower Mill created four major tailings ponds, two oldest and largest (No. 1 on the right, No. 2 on the left) are in the immediate foreground. Ponds No. 3 and No. . . . — — Map (db m177663) HM
On August 24, 1881, Silverton Town Marshal David Clayton "Clate" Ogsbury was gunned down in a shootout with members of the Stockton-Eskridge Gang outside the notorious Diamond Saloon at the corner of 11th and Greene streets. The gang had ridden . . . — — Map (db m176711) HM
Trails & Passes
▪︎ The Colorado Rocky Mountains, appearing as a formidable barrier, have trails over almost all 260 passes.
▪︎ A trail is a corridor between two places: usually a network of paths that meet at . . . — — Map (db m178408) HM
▪︎ From 1872 until 1882, when the railroad reached Silverton, Stony Pass was the vital link between the San Juan mining districts and supply towns to the east.
▪︎ A practical but tough route from . . . — — Map (db m178581) HM
This area around you was one of the most productive and rewarding in San Juan County's mining history. The earliest mineral discoveries in the region were made in Arrastra Gulch (ahead and to your right) in the early 1870s. The Little Giant was . . . — — Map (db m177664) HM