"RED MOUNTAIN" Red Mountain by JeanCooke

Red Mountain Travel Guide: 0 reviews and 1 photos

Ghost Town

Rock roads were blasted for mining and logging trucks and not much improved since.

Stopping at Red Mountain ghost town where the double horizontal boarded jail crumbles reminds me that even best built places return to dust.

Here was one of the most fabulous towns during the golden years of the San Juans. Ore was discovered on the Red Mountain Pass in the late 1870s, but lack of transportation and severe winters delayed the stampede for several years. When the rush did come, there were mining camps up one side of the mountain and down the other. About the only obstacle in the prosperity of Red Mountain Town were the winters. Only the hardiest stayed the winter. In all, an estimated thirty million dollars in gold, silver, lead, zinc and copper has been taken from the mines.

The first community, just east of Red Mountain Pass, was called Congress, with 300 year-round residents. Two big mines, the Yankee Girl and the Guston were discovered August 12, 1881. The Genessee-Vanderbilt followed in 1882, and the National Bell in 1883, where miners discovered lead carbonate crystals in a cavern and staked claims in ten feet of snow.

This area produced over $12 million in ore. Around the bend, travelers will see an old mill on the left and several log buildings, the site of Red Mountain Town. The town, once had three newspapers, a municipal waterworks, depot, school, stores, and jail - more than sixty buildings in all. Much of the town burned in 1892.

It was evident to even the earliest casual observer that there must be precious minerals in the three gaudy-colored Red Mountains. The colors came from iron pyrite - fools gold - but it was an obvious clue that other richer minerals could be close by. Only low grade discoveries were made in the first few years of mining activity. But in 1882 John Robinson discovered the fabulously rich Yankee Girl Mine and the rush was on to Colorado’s newest mining district. What had fooled the prospectors was that the ore was to be found in vertical chimneys rather than in lode deposits typical of the area. The Red Mountains themselves consisted almost entirely of very low grade ore except where the rich ore chimneys of some thirty to one hundred feet in width plunged into the earth. There silver could be found that contained as much as a 1,000 ounces of silver per ton of ore - an unheard of richness

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Great for ghost town junkies
  • Cons:Need 4 wheel drive
  • In a nutshell:Not to far off the hiway
  • Last visit to Red Mountain: Aug 2002
  • Intro Written Jan 16, 2003
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