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 ground...be 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 it...surgery 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