It was well overdue for an outing with Rob and Sherrie. We normally do this monthly, but it’s probably been 6 months or longer. And as we often do, we set off to places none of us had been before to discover the mining history of the area. But if anyone had asked, we were hunting for wild mushrooms and raspberries (which we found and ate).
We headed up towards Mammouth (or Mammoth, depending which sign or map we were looking at) Gulch in Gilpin County. As we bounced and jostled up the 4×4 road, Rob kept an eye on the maps. There was a “Y” symbol next to the road, which in U.S.G.S. symbology means an adit or tunnel. So we stopped to explore what we couldn’t see.
We discovered some rusty rails, overgrown with dense vegetation fed by the water flowing from the mine. The tunnel entrance was caved-in, but it was clear where it was.
This mine was a more recent endeavor compared to what we normally find. It used a gasoline powered air compressor. The older mines used steam power.
We followed one of the roads up Mammouth Gulch only to find it blocked with a gate. It seems more and more people who own mining claims are blocking any access across the claim, even though public lands are beyond it. It seems wrong in my opinion. Existing roads and trails should automatically carry an easement. It’s not as if there is any active mining going on.
Since we were stopped, we picked some wild mushrooms to have later with dinner.
Then we headed towards a place called Nugget. There were already some other explorers, who were just leaving when we arrived. They told us they had descended a shaft. I took a look at it and decided to do the same.
It was angled down about about 35 to 40 degrees. I went down, feet first, until the corrugated pipe ended. Rob and Sherrie stayed at the surface.
Once I was through the pipe, I was in a 10 foot wide passage, strewn with rocks and trash. It was about 4 feet tall and continued down at the same angle as the pipe. At the end of the passage, it dropped straight down.
Although there was a rope to hang onto, I didn’t venture near the edge because I didn’t know how stable it was. I tossed a rock down and heard it bounce a few times, probably dropping at least 200 feet.
I came back up and out, and we headed towards Apex, which is probably considered a ghost town.
Above apex, we came across another mining operation. This one much more recent.
The tunnel entrance had a sliding door on it, but it was caved in behind the door.
This was probably a silver mine, since the rock doesn’t look like the stuff I see associated with gold mines.
We continued on up the side of Dakota Hill, and explored some shaft entrances that had been closed by the State. The afternoon thunderstorms had moved in and we decided to call it a day and head back to my place for grilled salmon. All in all, a very good day.