The New Empire of the Rockies: A History of Northeast Colorado
BLM Cultural Resources Series (Colorado: No. 16)
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Early Mining in Northeastern Colorado

Northeastern Colorado's mining frontier passed quickly. Within five years of discovery the "boom" was over. By 1864, mineral extraction in Boulder, Gilpin and Clear Creek Counties had become a corporate effort. Despite major changes, typical frontier traits remained; for example a male-dominated society. The new camps evolved slowly into permanent communities and as they did, the old pioneer atmosphere was lost. The mining industry grew slowly from the late 1860s until the early 1890s with interruptions; generally due to financial problems or a lack of adequate mining technology. Northeast Colorado led the state's mining industry from 1860 until 1878 when Leadville was discovered. During this same period, the mountains were a continued major source of wealth for northeastern Colorado; not only for gold and silver but also thanks to goods and services local mining camps demanded. As in earlier years individuals who could not, or did not, succeed in mineral occupations left the hills in order to take jobs in other businesses, or to prospect in other parts of the state. Northeastern Colorado's mineral industry also permitted the creation of extremely successful men; "Bonanza Kings", rivalling famous "Cattle Barons". These events occurred when easily recoverable ores were exhausted and different methods were forced upon miners. [1]

During 1858 and into 1859, prospectors found that gold was easy to recover using the simplest of tools like picks, pans and shovels. These worked well at first when there was "float" gold readily available and subsequent losses due to inefficiency were unimportant. However, this changed and as fewer gold flecks appeared in bottoms of pans and sluice boxes, miners sought the "mother lode" from which streams had eroded placer gold. Once started, practical ways to separate gold from the granite and quartz that surrounded it were needed as were ways to extract ores from the earth. Most Fifty-niners had little or no experience with placer mining when they arrived in Colorado but soon learned placer methods because of technical simplicity. However, as "hardrock" quartz mining took over, miners discovered their knowledge was wholly inadequate. [2] Few early residents had any experience with underground mining or the special problems involved. Further, operations as envisioned required investment capital. Changes in mining brought about the beginnings of a class system in Colorado's mining camps. Society was one in which those who had promising claims and could find investors became the businessmen and those who did not have good luck took jobs in the mines as common laborers. The process of changing mining from a frontier open to all into a specialized industry and the subsequent development of "classes" was well underway by the mid-1860s. [3]

Solutions to the above problems came from outside the region during the early years. Miners started, in 1860, importing stamp mills and Spanish designed arrastras to remove gold from raw ore. Stamp mills used in northeastern Colorado came from "back East" and were brought across the plains on wagons, but the basic designs were developed in the 1850s in both California and Europe. These machines were nothing more than large, mechanically powered mortar and pestle sets that crushed the ore by percussion. Once powdered, the mineral was mixed with mercury (quicksilver) to separate the gold. That mixture was then heated and vibrated to remove the precious metal. The arrastras were crude machines to pulverize ore. They operated much like large millstones grinding ores between two stone wheels. From that point a traditional quicksilver and heat process was used to refine gold. Arrastras were brought to the United States from Mexico by miners who participated in the California rush of 1849 and learned of Spanish mining methods at that time. Neither of these systems was overly efficient and both lost as much as 70 percent of recoverable minerals. The loss ratios were not immediately evident and when they were, mine owners searched for new methods to refine Colorado ores. [4]

This Spanish arrastra is typical of early mining days in Colorado. Photo by S. F. Mehls.

This coal mine at Dacona, Colorado was typical of many such mines in the northern Colorado coal fields. J. W. Groves Photo, Courtesy USGS.

One important factor was a need for improved methods to extract underground ores. Few Americans had experience with hardrock mining in 1860 and of those who did even a smaller number were willing to relocate to northeastern Colorado. Their experience was confined to shafts a few hundred yards long. In Colorado it was soon apparent that following a vein might take the shaft thousands of feet underground; usually through unstable rock. The first ventures went only dozens of feet into the hillsides before disaster struck. Cave-ins and black powder explosions were commonplace. Especially critical was lack of expertise in timbering tunnels. Some experience from California was used but mine owners were forced to look outside the United States for help. They turned to Great Britain's iron and coal mines in Cornwall and Wales. These operations went thousands of feet underground and had been used for centuries. Both miners and mining engineers from England and Wales had experience needed by Colorado; so many were recruited to move to the Rockies and work in the new gold mines. [5]

Great Britain also offered an answer to another problem faced by Colorado's early Bonanza Kings: financing. The English made their fortunes in the Industrial Revolution by 1860. These merchants sought investment opportunities and as stories of Colorado's gold fields reached them, more than a few were eager to share in the anticipated riches. However, they waited until more definite information about the mines was available before plunging into the gold market. Equally, the Civil War during the early sixties, with no evidence of victory, caused potential investors to stall on committing themselves. This obstacle was removed in late 1863 when was obvious that the Union would win the bloody struggle. At that point, new discoveries in Colorado further solidified the region's position as one of America's leading gold sources. Those two factors encouraged the British who began investing in the region's mines, a trend that continued well into the twentieth century. [6] The same year saw increased interest by Eastern capitalists in Colorado's mineral business. The Civil War, while answering questions about the union and slavery, also caused rapid industrialization in the Northeast and Midwest. By the last years of the conflict, Northern industrialists profited from government contracts. They sought to invest their new wealth in other projects offering quick returns. They put cash into stock, both East and West. The American stock market went through a boom period from late 1863 until 1865 and Colorado's miners gloried in prosperous times. Mineowners who spent years searching for capital suddenly found themselves inundated with offers to purchase shares. The mania continued until 1865 when investors finally became scared by dangers in Colorado mining. [7] One major problem "outsiders" encountered was the unscrupulous nature of many stockbrokers. Investors made perfect targets for dishonest dealers. Most purchasers never saw Colorado and few had any idea how a gold mine worked. They heard tales of easy wealth that had abounded since 1859. Some saw stock as the best way to share in the alleged riches. Easterners and Europeans were ready to buy literally anything purported to be associated with Colorado or its gold. Those bent on cheating investors found their job quite easy. Types of fraud ranged from simple over-statements about a mine's production to the sale of stock in non-existent mine companies. Distance to Colorado in addition to a lack of accurate information about conditions in the Rockies made it difficult for investors to verify stories about various companies. Thousands put money into Colorado mining stock ventures between 1861 and 1865 only to be duped. By that year problems inherent in Colorado mining investments were well known, yet suckers still sought out these stocks. [8]

Thanks to "stock fever", another craze swept Colorado's mining camps between 1864 and 1868. Mineowners, pressed by investors for decent returns on their money, were forced to find more efficient and reliable methods to refine ores. No longer were 70 percent losses acceptable. As mines went deeper and new ore bodies were discovered, gold sulphides became even more difficult to separate. Claimholders felt that the essential ingredient for success was to find a new process to recover quartz-locked minerals. As they became desperate for a solution more effort was expended. Chemists, alchemists and charletons were all consulted in the search. This "process mania" was centered in Clear Creek and Gilpin Counties between Idaho Springs, Georgetown, and Central City. That area witnessed numerous recovery attempts from complicated machinery to magical incantations muttered over ore piles prior to milling. Each solution purported to offer a cure and as one after another failed, owners were even more willing to try anything. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent importing geological experts from around the world to examine the mines hoping to find an answer. Some of these men were no more than con artists preying on fears. Others were bona fide scientists who found themselves baffled by the complexities of Colorado ores. Part of the problem was that gold was not the only metal contained in these rocks and usually the processes failed when gold could not be separated from other metallic substances. One unwanted extra was a silver-lead compound not immediately recognized as valuable. [9]

The frantic search for an efficient refining method continued until 1867. That year Professor Nathaniel P. Hill perfected the first successful local smelter and put it into primary use in northeastern Colorado. Hill was a chemistry teacher at Brown University who visited Colorado in 1864 to examine the territory's mines and evaluate the region's other resources for potential as producers. During his tour, a group of mineowners from Gilpin County approached Hill with their problem. While not immediately able to find a solution, the challenge intrigued Hill. In the best Victorian tradition, believing science could conquer all, he spent much of his free time experimenting with various refining techniques. Hill was familiar with English smelting methods and he felt these processes could be adopted to Clear Creek ores. His work continued until 1867 when he organized the Boston and Colorado Smelting Company and next year opened his first plant at Black Hawk. The so-called Swansea process worked better than anything to date and overnight Hill's company had more business than it could handle. Others tried to discover what modifications Hill made to English methods. Having failed, mineowners were forced to come to terms with Boston and Colorado's managers or else ship their highest grade ores to Great Britain for processing. Some rocks contained so much gold that despite the high costs involved in trans-Atlantic shipment, a profit could still be made. Despite such international competition Hill gained a virtual monopoly of Clear Creek smelting by the early 1870s. [10]

Despite all the problems northeastern Colorado mining presented, it continued a major part of the area's economy throughout the 1870s. From 1860 until 1875 Colorado mining was synonymous with this region. Mines in Boulder, Clear Creek and Gilpin Counties produced millions of dollars in gold and silver ores during that period. Much of this predominance came from development of earlier deposits, especially as new technology for mining and extraction became available. Still other wealth was added by new discoveries and by the rapid growth of silver mining. [11] Silver extraction was an outgrowth of gold mining in the region. It did not often appear as a "free metal", like placer gold, and its existence in commercial quantities went unknown for the first ten years of mineral activity in northeast Colorado. The ores that later proved out silver were a nuisance to gold seekers around Idaho Springs, Empire and Georgetown during the early 1860s. However, a few ex-Californians who had worked the Comstock Lode in Nevada, noticed the familiarity of some Comstock galena ores with the outcroppings along Clear Creek. By the mid-1860s silver rivalled gold for importance to the area's mineral business. Georgetown became the first center of this activity in Colorado. Silver mines profited from earlier experiences of gold miners and some prior difficulties were avoided. Nevertheless problems, especially for investors, were as commonplace in silver mining as in gold. [12]

Attempts to correct these matters, especially lack of accurate information, resulted in organizations like the British and Colorado Mining Bureau (B&CMB), founded in 1868 by Robert R. Old. Its purpose was twofold. First, the Bureau acted as a promotional agent for Clear Creek's mines in London and other British cities. The B&CMB published brochures, handled stock transactions and desseminated information interesting to potential investors. Secondly, the British and Colorado acted as an agent to mines that shipped ores to Great Britain for refining. The Bureau remained in operation for only a few years, and others soon imitated its methods as offices promoting Colorado mining stocks opened in major European cities during the late 1860s and 1870s. One of the most spectacular examples of this early promotion occurred the year before Old set up the British and Colorado agency. J.P. Whitney, a Georgetown mine owner and salesman, convinced Frenchman Louis Simonin to visit the region and take his views back to France. Simonin was amazed by what he saw and upon his arrival home published a series of favorable articles about his travels. Whitney was invited to display pictures and ore samples of Colorado's mines at the Paris Universal Exposition in 1867. While no definite records of the capital these ventures brought to the region are available, all indications are that promoters were successful in their work. This hard-selling Colorado mines to Europeans, firmly established by 1870, continued, through local entrepreneurs, well into the twentieth century. [13]

One of the more ambitious foreign undertakings in the early years of Colorado's mining history occurred in Boulder County, near the headwaters of Boulder Creek. As early as 1862 prospectors worked the area but it was not until 1869 that Sam Conger recognized this locale's silver ores. Once news of these discoveries became public a small rush followed and Caribou was founded. By 1870 its owners were searching for investors. Bankers from Denver helped broaden the hunt. Dutch financiers were attracted to Colorado mining and local promoters got them into Caribou. The Dutch purchased claims at Caribou and spent heavily on improvements to their properties, including mills and other facilities. These activities led to the founding of Nederland, Colorado. The Dutch spent millions of dollars on the mines of Caribou but were unable to make sufficient profits. Creditors forced foreclosure and the property was purchased at a Sheriff's sale for $70,000 by David H. Moffat and Jerome B. Chaffee, both of Denver. They were two men who originally encouraged the Dutch to buy the mines. The Dutch experience at Nederland was typical of what happened to more than a few foreign investors involved with northeastern Colorado's mines during the late nineteenth century. Outsiders spent millions on improvements, only to have their investments lost through legal proceedings. They soon became wary of "crafty" Americans. [14]

The decade of the seventies was a turbulent time for mining in northeast Colorado. The first major change resulted from the Panic of 1873. This financial upheaval began in eastern banking houses and spread across the country. Too many people had borrowed heavily to buy Colorado stocks. When banks called in loans, investors were forced to sell their shares for whatever they could get. This, in turn, led to lower prices for mining stocks and hence a capital shortage for Colorado's mines. The investors' rush into the territory was slowed and proportionate decreases in developmental work at many operations occurred. Most mines did not close but activity was minimized to control costs. This trend continued until late 1875 when national economic recovery caused buyers to go looking for new opportunities. [15] During the second half of the decade gold and silver extraction in northeast Colorado was reinvigorated. However, earlier problems forever changed mining in the region. The Panic of 1873 removed the most speculative ventures and those that remained were operated in a more conservative manner. The last vestiges of the wild frontier disappeared. Precious metal mining in northeast Colorado evolved into big business and followed the industrial practices of the era. Mine and smelter operators merged their companies thereby beginning a vertical integration process. Many smaller corporations were consolidated to form larger outfits. Support for transportation improvements also came from mineowners. At the same time, an elite of business and political leaders emerged. Men such as Henry M. Teller of Central City, William A.H. Loveland of Golden and Jerome B. Chaffee of Denver, represented a new class of wealthy residents. By 1880 class lines were firmly drawn as these "Bonanza Kings" exerted control over both the region and the state. Another reason for these developments was the discovery of new gold and silver deposits elsewhere in the state. Leadville became the center of interest for Colorado mining by 1878. To stay in business, northeast Colorado miners were forced to adopt more conservative (and efficient) mining methods. [16] Leadville, and other mining camps outside the state's northeast corner, quickly moved to the forefront of the Centennial state's mineral industry during the early 1880s. These places were able to do so not only because of their natural wealth but moreover they were opened by miners already experienced in Rocky Mountain mining techniques. Much of their expertise was gained in northeast Colorado's mines, the area served as a training ground for laborers, engineers and financiers. Settlers with direct connections to places like Central City or Nederland became the pioneers of Leadville, Aspen, and the San Juans. Most of the industry's leaders got their start in Clear Creek, Gilpin or Boulder Counties. Among these were Jerome B. Chaffee, David H. Moffat, Eben Smith, N.P. Hill, James B. Grant, David R.C. Brown, H.A.W. Tabor, Henry M. Teller and J.J. Hagerman. Each man took wealth and knowledge gained on the Front Range and continued to re-invest it in newer Colorado mines. Many business practices and sales techniques first learned in the region were refined elsewhere in the state. Without expertise gained from the mines in northeast Colorado the Rocky Mountain mineral industry would have taken longer to fully develop. [17]

While precious metals caused most excitement and led to the rush of 1859, other minerals were also extracted in this area during the late nineteenth century. These operations very nearly paralleled gold and silver mining and experienced many of the same problems and solutions. Two activities dominated the non-precious segment: coal mining and stone quarrying. [18] Coal was first discovered in 1859 by early residents, These finds were not difficult because in many places the outcroppings were visible from the surface. Federal explorer Ferdinand V. Hayden reinforced early information, late in the 1860s, when he issued reports stating the front range was underlain by coal from Fort Collins south into New Mexico. By 1870 the situation changed as more people settled the region and a need for fuel increased. The limited wood supply had been quickly used. Coal became a substitute heating source. Small mines opened along the foothills, and between Golden and Boulder, to meet this demand. These were one and two man operations to serve local markets. [19] Availability of rail transportation led to a rapid expansion of the coal industry during the early seventies. Coal fields in Boulder County were among the first to benefit from the new (and cheap) method of moving coal to market. In 1871 a mine opened east of Erie, Colorado, the first in this region. It produced soft lignite coal, popular for use in home heating and cooking. The Erie operation led others to mine the "black diamonds" and soon output was large enough to warrant construction of a shortline railroad from the Denver Pacific mainline into the coal fields. This company, a DP subsidiary, was known as the Denver and Boulder Valley. Erie, Marshall, Lafayette, Louisville and other towns quickly became mining towns to serve the coal industry's needs. [20]

During the early 1870s, as settlement spread north from Denver along the South Platte River to Greeley, other colleries were opened to meet growing demands for fuel. In 1870 Union colonists helped develop a mine at Eaton, Colorado, to supply their needs. Other settlements purchased from this mine and started similar operations. These usually were small companies or were individually owned. Most remained minor industries throughout the late nineteenth century. However, a few developed into larger firms that shipped coal to other parts of the nation. Northeastern Colorado did not gain a reputation for its colleries because lignite was not used for coking. [21]

The other mineral removed from the region's hills in large quantities in the years 1870 to 1895 was building stone. Concrete was not yet popular and contemporary technology limited builders seeking permanence to the use of brick or stone. As Denver, and other cities in northeastern Colorado grew, demands for building materials increased. To serve this need quarries operated near Lyons, Loveland and Fort Collins. Further south, near Morrison, miners undertook removal of granite, sandstone, limestone and grindstone. These companies all remained in business for years. Near Fort Collins and Loveland the towns of Stout and Arkins, respectively, were founded to house stone quarry workers. Reddish sandstones from northeastern Colorado found their way into buildings and as paving stones in Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins and other cities. Stout rock was used in some parts of the Chicago Worlds Fair of 1893. [22]

At about this same time quarry businesses lost customers as concrete became increasingly popular. Limestone and other native minerals of this region proved valuable for the manufacture of cement. This, in turn, led to the development of concrete plants near Fort Collins and at Lyons during the early 1890s. However, cement did not become an important part of the area's mining industry until early in the twentieth century. These non-precious mining activities added to the region's business and economic growth during this time. As with gold and silver, operators of coal and stone mines, in order to increase their volume, had to find both investors and new markets. Being less "romantic" than precious metal mining companies, the non-metallic group had to work harder to find capital; but they were less troubled with stock fraud and manipulation. Labor, machinery costs, and operating problems still faced both industries. [23]

One of the biggest concerns for mine owners in northeast Colorado between 1860 and 1895 was to secure an adequate labor supply. During the 1860s, as mining changed from placer to hardrock, workers were scarce and could demand, and receive, wages as high as $5 a day. The labor shortage continued until after the Civil War because those who moved West or came to try their hand at prospecting did not do so to toil for others. Realizing this situation, operators attempted to meet as many workers' needs possible. However, by 1864 as more demands were made and when unions started to organize in Clear Creek and Gilpin Counties, owners found themselves unable to comply any further and a strike ensued. It ended in a few days at most mines, but antagonism between owners and workers developed and it continued to grow for the remainder of the century. Occasionally this breech broadened into violence. [24] Unionism slowed from the end of the Civil War until 1873 because numerous new workers were available and mine owners no longer had to consider union demands. The "romance" of gold and silver mining, plus high wages attracted Civil War veterans to northeast Colorado. They took any job in the mines. Often these newcomers brought their families and previously riotous camps became peaceful and "civilized" places. The movement away from labor organizations and the expansion of Colorado's labor force continued until 1873. Financial depression in that year caused operators to look for ways to save money. One of the first was to cut wages and lay off workers. Both these actions led to angry protests from miners. But fearful for their jobs, few joined unions or did more than grumble about conditions. [25] Once the Panic of 1873 passed, hardrock miners began thinking about unionizing. Owners checked these efforts by threatening to fire and black list all known organizers. Because most workers had families, and other responsibilities, they were reluctant to participate in activities that threatened their livelihood. While sympathetic to unions, many miners did little more than pay lip service to union organizers. Only small numbers were willing to join. This continued well into the 1880s as conditions became totally unbearable. [26]

Those who relocated to northeast Colorado to toil underground came from all parts of this nation as well as most foreign countries. Cornish and Welsh miners were foremost among foreign-born groups. However, French, Germans, Scandanavians and Irish all eagerly sought jobs in the mines. A very few Chinese came to Central City, Georgetown and other mountain camps. Both native born and foreign workers all suffered the same hardships in the tunnels. [27] During the late nineteenth century miners and their safety were not at all considered by management. Twelve to sixteen hour days were common as were six or seven day workweeks. The mines were unsafe, partially because of lack of technology, and from disregard by owners of even the most minimal safety equipment. These conditions existed because management made every attempt to maximize profit. One easy way was to cut costs to the barest essentials, like few or no support timbers. These cost savings led to tragedies in the region's mines. Cave-ins were common occurences, usually killing or crippling workers. Explosions or fires caused by gasses such as methane made underground work dangerous. So too did the possibility of unignited powder charges going off. At any moment a pick or drill could tap a water pocket, flooding the passageway and quickly drowning its occupants. As technology for removing ores evolved and as new machines were put to use, chances of equipment failure or being mangled by moving parts increased. If a miner survived these hazards he was still in danger from other unseen killers. Mines were damp, muddy and dusty places that lacked adequate ventilation. Constant exposure to a dirty environment led to risk of pulmonary and respiratory diseases that snuffed out young lives. If a miner was only crippled by an accident or illness, his future held no hope, for employers were not responsible for any type of compensation to the worker or his family. If he suffered a mishap there was precious little chance that he could ever again find work to support his family. This led to child and female labor and other social problems. High costs and ever-decreasing wages in the years after 1870 forced children and women into the work force. [28] Such hardships led to the growth of unions and a demand for labor reform. The union movement that had lost momentum earlier, was revitalized during the late 1880s. Occasional strikes proved only marginally successful. Usually organizing activities accomplished little and organizers found themselves unemployed. Nevertheless, the idea of unions was popularized, and during the early 1890s the movement spread throughout most mining camps.

The decade before, workers frustrated by mine owners, vented their hostility in other ways. [29] Foremost, was a dramatic increase in nativistic sentiment with strong racial overtones. Chinese became the target of attacks. Orientals were banned from mining camps and occassionally violent acts were perpetrated against them. In 1880, Denver erupted into riots aimed at Chinese residents with a few Chinese immigrants killed, many injured and numerous businesses destroyed. This nativism and concurrent union organizing efforts were a direct reply by labor to the evolution of mining from pioneer into big business by 1880. [30] That change also led to the development of ancillary enterprises in northeast Colorado. One of the most important for regional economic growth was smelting. This industry was a direct outgrowth of the "process mania" of the 1860s. Nathaniel P. Hill's success with his refinery at Black Hawk led others to copy parts of his technique and as they did furnaces sprang up in the camps. However, because of Hill's secret process and his ability to undercut competitors' prices, Hill's Boston and Colorado Company totally dominated the mining industry by the early 1870s. He had a virtual monopoly over Clear Creek and Gilpin County gold refining. Silver discoveries led Hill, and others, to develop techniques to smelt these new ores. In the early years smelters were located in or near the mountains in order to be close to mines and wood fuel supplies. [31] The later 1870s led to a change in this pattern as Hill and his competitors relocated their operations to Denver. The "Queen City" offered certain advantages including space, transportation connections and access to coking coal from southern Colorado. Once railroads spread into local mining districts and out to coal fields on the plains, plant relocation became feasible, especially considering exhausted supplies of wood and land in the high country. Hill became the first to recognize Denver's potential and in 1879 moved his works from Black Hawk to Denver. He was soon followed by James B. Grant and by 1881 the near north side of Denver had become an industrial area. This part of the city was known as Globevilie because of the Globe smelter and the fact that the little community was made up of ethnic groups from around the world. Denver, by the mid-1880s, developed into the center of a Rocky Mountain smelting industry. [32] Colorado City, an industrial suburb of Colorado Springs, was another smelting center in northeast Colorado. It served mines for the region and also processed Leadville and Aspen ores brought in on the Colorado Midland Railroad. The plants received even more business in the early 1890s as mines at Cripple Creek and Victor came into production. Colorado City also was the scene of the first labor unrest aimed at the refining business. [33]

Georgetown, Colorado in 1873 was a booming silver town. W. S. Jackson Photo, Courtesy USGS.

The wagon road up Boulder Canyon was typical of the poor roads in early Colorado. This 1873 W. H. Jackson photo shows why railroads were so important. Photo Courtesy USGS.

Workers in the smelters faced some of the same problems as hardrock miners. Unsafe working conditions like explosions and machinery failures took their toll of smeltermen. Workers labored twelve hours for a dollar or two a day unless they held one of the few higher paying skilled jobs in the plant. Unions offered solutions for these men. As with the mines, smelter management discouraged unions in every way possible. [34]

Smelting was the largest support industry to develop for mining in northeast Colorado, but others grew too. The towns along the front range became supply centers for mountain camps. This trend continued and then expanded as railroads, built during the 1870s and 1880s, connected plains with high country. Four cities, in particular, benefited from their proximity to local mines; Boulder, Golden, Colorado Springs and Denver. Each of these places developed businesses for meeting needs of the mineral industry. They supplied food, machinery, tools, dry goods and offered recreational facilities. In Denver the Mine and Smelter Supply Company not only sold specialized machinery but also manufactured custom equipment for the state's mines. This corporation grew rapidly and soon marketed its products across the Rocky Mountain West and had a branch office in Mexico City to serve Latin American operators. These businesses added to the region's economic growth between 1870 and 1900. [35]

Another industry that developed in response to miners' demands was lumbering. Underground works required wood for bracing, timbering, shafts, headframes and other uses. Timber was needed for building, for heating homes, and for the refining process. It was found that charcoal provided more heat and soon charcoal kilns appeared on the hills around mining camps in order to convert trees into that fuel. Charcoal and other demands, led to gross denuding of hillsides around the mines. As mineral activities grew, lumbering operations spread out from the camps. [36] The northern mountains of Colorado caught the timbermen's attention by 1870. This was due to two reasons; first to supply local mines and secondly to provide ties and other wood products for use in railroad construction during the late 1860s on into the 1870s. Lumber camps arose along the Cache la Poudre, Big Thompson and other rivers in the region, and near the Red Feather Lakes. These operations came as close as anything to a "true" lumbering industry in Colorado. Sawmills, log ponds and roads were built to facilitate logging. Companies went into business thanks to the low costs involved in setting up a sawmill and using free timber lands. Streams were used during spring runoff to float the previous winter's cut down from the foothills onto the plains. Lumbermen expanded their activities to serve new settlers who moved into the area. This allowed those who could afford it to build homes and businesses from wood, lessening dependence on sod and stone. Some lumber companies remained in business until the early 1890s when Federal Timber Reserves (National Forests) were established. [37]

Mining was the impetus behind logging and other industries in northeast Colorado during the later nineteenth century. As mineral mining prospered so did general business. Gold, and especially silver, mining continued to enjoy good times from 1875 until 1893. While booms elsewhere in Colorado caused the region's fiscal position to erode, the mine industry remained an important part of this area's economy. By the late 1880s silver prices began a new era. Owners sought to expand their holdings, maximize production, yet limit amounts spent on development. Silver profits continued upward until 1893 when the market collapsed, resulting in the closures of mines and smelters, abandonment of claims and the creation of ghost towns. The Panic of 1893 ended the last major mining boom of the nineteenth century. During the remainder of that decade activity decreased without significant revivals, except in Boulder County where tellurium was discovered near Ward. [38]

Despite the mineral industry's problems, by 1900 it had made considerable contributions, not only to northeastern Colorado, but the entire state. Money from local gold and silver was re-invested in ventures throughout the state by Colorado's "bonanza kings". [39] The area's seeming prosperity encouraged outsiders to put capital into Colorado projects, a process that continued into the twentieth century. Auxiliary industries, like smelting, developed and also helped economic growth. Extraction of non-precious minerals, especially coal and stone, broadened the region's mining base and certain town aided settlement by providing fuel and building materials to the plains and in the cities. The existence of mines also stimulated expansion of northeast Colorado's transportation system. Business from the foothills made freighters and railroaders feel that the high cost of construction in the mountains could be offset by lucrative trade. [40]

Chapter VI: Notes

1Cornelius W. Hauck, Narrow Gauge to Central and Silver Plume, (Golden: Colorado Railroad Museum, 1972), pp. 11 and 94, hereafter cited: Hauck, Narrow, James E. Fell, Jr., Ores to Metals, The Rocky Mountain Smelting Industry, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979), pp. 5 and 8-11, hereafter cited: Fell, Ores; Nore V. Winter, James S. Kane, Ellen Beasley, Kathy London and Liston E. Leyendecker, "Level I Historic Cultural Resource Survey of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland," (Lakewood, CO.: United States Forest Service, n.d.), n.p., hereafter cited: USFS, "Level I"; and Ada B. Sittser interview, Civilian Works Administration Interview, Colorado State Historical Society, volume 358, hereafter cited: CWA, CSHS.

2Robert G. Athearn, The Coloradans, (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1976), pp. 22-24, hereafter cited: Athearn, Coloradans; and Fell, Ores, pp. 5-7.

3Blanche Valrea Adams, "Colorado in the Civil War," (M.A. Thesis, University of Colorado, 1930), pp. 120-122, hereafter cited: Adams, "Civil War", and Colin B. Goodykoontz, "Life in the Gold Towns," in: A Colorado Reader, edited by Carl Ubbelohde, (Boulder: Pruett Publishing Co., 1962), pp. 107-109, hereafter cited: Goodykoontz, "Town Life."

4A.F. Sanford interview, vol. 343, CWA, CSHS, USFS, "Level I", n.p., and Fell, Ores, pp. 6-9.

5Fell, Ores, pp. 8-10, and USFS, "Level I," n.p.

6Adams, "Civil War," pp. 122-125, and Athearn, Coloradans, pp. 86-99.

7Adams, "Civil War," pp. 121-124; Fell, Ores, p. 8, and see: Joseph E. King, A Mine to Make a Mine, (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1977), chapters 1 and 2.

8Athearn, Coloradans, pp. 84-88, and William Alexander Lawson interview, vol. 355, CWA, CSHS.

9Fell, Ores, pp. 9-12, and USFS, "Level I," n.p.

10Athearn, Coloradans, p. 129; Fell, Ores, pp. 8-24, 37, and see: Ovando J. Hollister, The Mines of Colorado, (Springfield, MA.: Samuel Bowles & Co., 1867).

11Fell, Ores, pp. 78-81, USFS, "Level I," n.p. and Ernest Quick interview vol 358, CWA, CSHS.

12Fell, Ores, pp. 55-58, Athearn, Coloradans, pp. 129-130, and Sittser, CWA, CSHS.

13See: Clark C. Spence, "The British and Colorado Mining Bureau," Colorado Magazine 33 (April 1956): 81-92, and Alfred P. Tischendorf, "British Investments in Colorado Mines," Colorado Magazine 30 (October 1953): 241-246.

14See: Duane A. Smith, Silver Saga: The Story of Caribou, Colorado, (Boulder: Pruett Press, 1974); Donald C. Kemp, Silver, Gold and Black Iron; A Story of the Grand Island Mining District of Boulder County, Colorado, (Denver: Sage Books, 1960), and USFS, "Level I," n.p.

15Donald Wayne Hensel, "A History of the Colorado Constitution in the Nineteenth Century," (Ph. D. Dissertation, University of Colorado, 1957), pp. 93-94, hereafter cited: Hensel, "Constitution."; Fell, Ores, p. 44, and Athearn, Coloradans, pp. 191-192.

16Fell, Ores, 80-81; Athearn Coloradans, p. 192, and see: Richard H. Peterson, The Bonanza Kings, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1977), hereafter cited: Peterson, Kings.

17Peterson, Kings, Appendix I, and Lawson, CWA, CSHS.

18Guy Peterson, Fort Collins: The Post, The Town, (Ft. Collins: The Old Army Press, 1972), pp. 60-61, hereafter cited: Peterson, Ft. Collins, and USFS, "Level I," n.p.

19William H. Goetzmann, Exploration and Empire; The Explorer and Scientist in the Winning of the American West, (New York: Knopf, 1966), pp. 472, 497-498; and "The City of Golden," vol. 354, CWA, CSHS, and Mr. Knox interview, vol. 354, CWA, CSHS.

20Robert G. Athearn, Union Pacific Country, (Chicago: Rand McNally & Co., 1971), pp. 216-217, hereafter cited: Athearn, UP, and "Old Burlington" interview, vol. 353, CWA, CSHS.

21E.L. Ketley interview, vol. 343, CWA, CSHS, and F.A. Neville interview, vol. 353, CWA, CSHS.

22Harry E. Kelsey, Jr., Frontier Capitalist, The Life of John Evans, (Denver: Historical Society of Colorado, 1969), p. 181; Peterson, Ft. Collins, pp. 60-62; Charles Pike interview, vol. 354, CWA, CSHS, and Neville, CWA, CSHS.

23Neville, CWA, CSHS, vol 353.

24Hensel, "Constitution," pp. 176-178, and Adams, "Civil War," pp. 121-124, and see: Dennis S. Grogan, "Unionization in Boulder and Weld Counties to 1890," Colorado Magazine 44 (Fall 1967): 324-341.

25Hensel, "Constitution," p. 93, Fell, Ores, pp. 43-45, and Athearn, Coloradans, pp. 191-192.

26James Edward Wright, The Politics of Populism, Dissent in Colorado, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974), pp. 17-21, hereafter cited: Wright, Politics, and see: Lynn I. Perrigo, "A Social History of Central City, Colorado, 1859-1900," (Ph. D. Dissertation, University of Colorado, 1936).

27USFS, "Level I," n.p.

28Wright Politics, pp. 20-21, 24-27, and Sanford, CWA, CSHS.

29Wright, Politics, pp. 17-20; Knox, CWA, CSHS, and Sarah M. Smith interview, vol. 353, CWA, CSHS.

30Lyle W. Dorsett, The Queen City, A History of Denver, (Boulder: Pruett Publishing Co, 1977), pp. 101-103 and Wright, Politics, pp. 17-19 and 26-27.

31Fell, Ores, pp. 39-41, 59-62; "Golden," CWA, CSHS, and Thomas Davis interview, vol. 353, CWA, CSHS.

32Fell, Ores, pp. 53, 112, 136-140, 155-158; Athearn, Coloradans, p. 131, and "Old Burlington," CWA, CSHS.

33Morris Cafky, Colorado Midland, (Denver: Rocky Mountain Railroad Club, 1965), pp. 51, 78; Amanda May Ellis, The Colorado Springs Story, (Colorado Springs: House of San Juan, 1975), pp. 33-36; and Marshall Sprague, One Hundred Years Plus, A Centennial Story of Colorado Springs, (Colorado Springs: Colorado Springs Centennial Inc, 1971), pp. 15-17.

34Fell, Ores, pp. 225-227, and Davis, CWA, CSHS.

35See: Albert E. Seep, "History of the Mine and Smelter Supply Company," Colorado Magazine (23 May 1946): 128-134, and USFS, "Level I," n.p.

36Fell, Ores, pp. 37-41, and USFS, "Level I," n.p.

37USFS, "Level I," n.p., and Sanford, CWA, CSHS.

38Forest Lowell White, "The Panic of 1893 in Colorado," (M.A. Thesis, University of Colorado, 1932), pp. 3-5, and Fell, Ores, p. 5.

39Fell, Ores, pp. 5, 80-81.

40Hauck, Narrow, p. 10, and Athearn, UP, p. 45.

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Last Updated: 20-Nov-2008