Thursday, March 20, 2014


An exercise in getting out and exploring your surroundings - you never quite appreciate it all until you leave some place, and then it might be too late.  You might discover something new (or old), learn something in the process, and/or just end the day with a general "feel-good" satisfaction about yourself.  High above the mountain town of Idaho Springs, CO, sit the remnants of an old mine that my long-ago relatives (a great-grandfather and his siblings, among them) worked.  Two summers ago, we explored the surrounding area of Idaho Springs and Freeland, CO, but did not venture up the mountain to the mine.
This past summer we did.  UP the mountain we hiked.  Seemingly STRAIGHT up - this is a rugged jeep trail so we had to traverse it on foot - a couple of miles, round trip, in the very least.  Troopers all - some did it in short spurts, which was fine.  When you're out exploring, LISTEN to your own body (The Capital of Denver sits at a mile high - the mountains are MUCH higher than that, meaning the air is "thinner" and breathing more difficult) - take it slow - take water!  If you're going into an area you're unfamiliar with as far as BLM lands or private ownership, ASK first.  Be respectful.  In addition to your water, arm yourself with a camera and, perhaps, a great walking stick.
This mine, from information I can find, produced not only gold, but silver ore, and lead.  Veins discovered in 1867 led to the opening of the mine.  If you look at the grouping of photos above this, you can see gold colored "tailings" from various mines surrounding the mountains across from where we stood.  The large mounds of gravel are tailings from the Lamartine, itself..."leftovers", once the precious metals were gleaned from the ground, dumped over the edge in front of the mine.
While I would NEVER suggest a trip through an old abandoned mine, what we found here were several old buildings that evidently housed the outer workings of the mine itself, and NOT the actual mine shafts themselves.  This was probably what they referred to as the ore house.  We were VERY mindful of where we placed our feet, making sure we were ALWAYS on solid ground - the old mines have a handful of danger to them...gasses and unseen dropoffs, among them. Again, if you're not sure, ASK!
A large fissure vein produced several million dollars in gold, silver and lead over the years in operation. 
This interesting old ore house has stood the test of time, through some mighty cold and hard Colorado winters.
A "trellis" at the far end of the ore house was evidently a covering of some sort of rail system for the ore carts...we found tailings and some remnants of small stone foundations and old iron equipment past the end of it, looking out over the mountains.  Perhaps a way to load wagons for the trip down to Denver?
By the time the mine was closed down in 1905, the total output was put at 39,292 ounces of gold; 2,677,471 ounces of silver; and 3,232,000 pounds of lead.
The mine sits at an altitude of 10,500 feet - the main shaft of the mine itself is said to be 900 feet deep.
Again, these buildings were all on solid aware of where you place your feet and hands - watch overhead for anything that might have a chance of falling.  Be respectful of the history of these old sites, and ALWAYS mindful of your own safety.  If in doubt, DON'T!
THIS was probably the opening to a shaft - boarded up ages ago. You also want to watch walking on top of the surrounding ground on something like this - stick to solid ground!  There's plenty to see from a distance.
Photos from my "cute" post - this is the scenery from the trek up and down the mountain.  Interested in just WHERE this spot might be?  This tells how to hike it: (LAMARTINE GHOST TOWN)
Again, this hill more than likely leads to a drop off, somewhere underfoot - the telltale sign pointing to a shaft in the vicinity are the gold colored "tailings" at the top up there.  Play it smart - play it safe!  But mainly, PLAY IT!  Get out and see something, wherever you can...learn something, and you might just find you learn something about yourself or your own past along the way, too!

And, "she" said it couldn't be done, but I did late last Friday, and a post today.  On the mend, though it will still take quite a few weeks before I'm up to more hikes like this. Summer's comin', and I'm resting so I'm ready - doctor's orders...XOXO


Mary Ann Potter said...

What an amazingly wonderful place to explore! Nicely done --- good advice, historic locale. My kind of exploration! I really enjoy your posts and photographs. Thanks for the nifty tour!

My Garden Diaries said...

FASCINATING! I was so pulled in by your post friend! To stand where your family once did is so cool! And the simple fact that those structures are still there is amazing! Telling a story all there own! WOW! I agree with you about getting out and learning something new. This was so neat to see and my goodness did they produce a lot of silver, gold and lead! Now you get your rest and I am sending you a big hug!!! Hope that you are back to yourself soon! Nicole xoxoxoxoxo Oh and the forest pics are gorgeous!

Maywyn Studio said...

Thank you for the beautiful pictures, and advice. Old buildings are new homes to many critters. Maybe someday there will be enough interest to better preserve the area.

Tammy Lawrence-Cymbalisty said...

Love your attitude!

111 LaLa Lane said...

Awesome post Tanya! The pictures are too. And to know it had a personal history for you.....I would have cried. Hope you have a quick recovery.

Createology said...

Living in amazing gold country and mines I am truly surprised that this Lamartine Ghost Town is "open" to public access. California is difficult at best. Healing Energy Dear for your complete and speedy recovery. Life is precious and that includes YOU!!!

Deborah Montgomery said...

We visited an old copper mine in the Upper Peninsula (of Michigan) in the fall. Very strict about safety. They gave us hardhats and raincoats and we had to go with a guide. Fascinating. But I did get a little claustrophobic underground. those poor miners were treated almost like slaves! Unsafe working conditions and extremely low wages.
I'm going to be out in Denver soon -- I know what you mean about the altitude -- I feel like I'm definitely closer to the sun. I can feel the intensity of the light !
Thanks for stopping by my blog, Tanya!

Vicki Boster said...

Fascinating-- there's a photo opportunity at every turn here!! Love places that are rich in history:)


Eugenia Maru said...

Qué aventura! me gustaría encontrar una mina así, bueno en Chile, en el norte, hay bastantes, pero de cobre mayormente.
Con suerte hubieras encontrado oro, wow, hubiera sido fantástico ¿no?
Cúidate mucho.
Saludos desde Chile

Tanya @ Bead and Needle said...

I've always had a warm spot in my heart for this spot, but even more-so since you've been with me there to make every thing more vibrant. Love, DAD & MOM. Thanks for being our daughter.....

NOTE: Because of spammers, my blog has been set up so as not to accept Anonymous comments - thus precluding my parents, sadly. They leave comments on my email, and I insert them - these are from them, even though they say differently on the header. I think it's high time they deserve their own account so they can comment along with everyone else! LOVE YOU BACK - XOXOXO

Hindustanka said...

Ohho! Quite an adventurous place you've been to Tanya! It looks a little creepy as all such abandoned places but also attractive.. such places have rich history and many things to explore. I am grateful you tak eus along your small and little tirps :)
Take care of yourself!

Jackie said...

Wow, I love to go exploring, that would be a fun place to go! I want to find some gold!! Or Silver!! I just love your travel posts, you really should be a tour guide or something like that!!

Tammy@T's Daily Treasures said...

Very interesting. It's been closed for some time, so why hasn't the area been cleaned up in anyway? Is it actually a tourist destination? Do they always leave old mine shafts and areas as they are? Glad to hear you made it through surgery and are on the mend. Take care! Tammy

Mary said...

I've missed Travel Tuesdays! This one is great. (Also, be careful because lead dust is very hazardous to your health!) I think I'm going to have to find this place!