GOLD LOCATIONS IN COLORADO
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Colorado is known as the Silver State, but it also ranks second among the gold producing states. Over 40 million ounces of gold have been produced in Colorado. Most of the gold mines are in the mountainous western half of the state. The most important sources of gold are from Telluride type ores. For more information contact Colorado Division of Mines or the Colorado School of mines.
Adams County Colorado
The Gravel and bench deposits along Clear Creek, just north of Denver contains placer gold. All bars, and benches along Clear Creek, which is a tributary of the South Platte River, had extensive placer operations which produced 16,800 ounces of gold between 1922 and 1959.
Alamosa County Colorado
West Blanca, elevation 12,000 feet has many area mines with dumps that has gold on them.
Arapahoe County Colorado
Along the South Platte River all gravel bars contain placer gold. Also along Cherry Creek, Dry Creek and Cottonwood Creek in T5S R66W and R67W had many productive placer workings. All regional tributary gravels contain placer gold.
Southwest of Denver in the Holy Cross Mountains, there are many small mines that produced lode gold. Some placer workings as well.
Baca County Colorado
Southwest of Springfield 45 miles, at Carizzo or Estelene Creeks, in exposures of white sandstone, you can find gold with copper minerals.
Boulder County Colorado
Boulder County ranks 9th among Colorado's gold producing counties. Boulder County has produced more than 1,000,000 ounces of gold. Most of that production came from lode mines.
Northwest of Boulder 3-8 miles is the Gold Hill Sugarloaf district. This district is about 12 square miles and had a total production of 412,000 ounces 1859-1959. In the area creek beds, terraces, benches, etc. you can find placer gold over 3,000 ounces have been produced. Gold Hill Mine, largest producer, including several adjoining mines produced lode gold and silver. The old camps of Sugarloaf, Rowena, Salina, and Sunshine are great places to explore. There are many area mines that produced lode gold and silver. Southwest of Boulder 4 miles to Magnolia, reached by steep grades, numerous high-grade mines that produced lode gold in tellurides. The total production of 130,000 ounces was recorded. West of Boulder 17 miles and 4 miles Northwest of Nederland, is the Grand Island-Caribou district in southwest part of county. The Grand Island- Caribou district had a total production between 1932-59, of 10,006 ounces. There are numerous area lead-silver mines that produced a by-product of gold. The Cardinal and Eldora mines are in the area and produced lode gold.
Jamestown is in the Central district. Nine miles northwest of Boulder there were many area mines. Lefthand Creek, north of Gold Hill, Bummers Gulch, Coon Trail, North Beaver and South Boulder Creeks, southeast of Caribou contain placer gold. James Creek above Jamestown contains placer gold. Central Gulch, west of Jamestown contains placer gold. Upper Fourmile Creek, northwest of Sugarloaf contains placer gold. It had a total production of 207,000 gold ounces. There are many area mines that produced gold in pyrite and telluride minerals. The Jamestown, Gold Hill and Ward area mines all produced lode gold.
North of Nederland on Route 160 toward Ward, turn east onto the Sugarloaf - Sunset road for 7 miles to the Oregon Mine. This mine produced gold in sulfide ores.
The Ward district is 9-13 miles northwest of Boulder. It covered 12 square miles in headwaters of Lefthand and Fourmile Creeks. The old camps of Sunset and Copper Rock, more than 50 lode mines in area, had a total production of 172,000 ounces of lode gold. The Niwot and Columbia mines were the largest producers of lode gold. In east part of district, many mines produced gold in tellurides.
Chaffee County Colorado
Chaffee County Borders the Continental Divide near central Colorado. Chaffee County produced 370,000 gold ounces, largely from lode mines, but with small amounts from placers and base metal mines. The main area of interest is in the gravel bars and benches all along the Arkansas River from Buena Vista southeast 25 miles to the Fremont County line and near Granite, which is close to the county line 15 miles northwest of Salida. There are many placers. In Lost Canyon Gulch, Chalk Creek, Cottonwood Creek, Pine Creek, Bertscheys Gulch, Cold Run Gulch, Gilson Gulch, Oregon Gulch, and Ritchey's Patch, you will find rich history and all had abundant placer workings. There are many small mines scattered throughout County that produced lode and by-product gold.
Southeast 5 miles of Buena Vista, at Free Gold on Trout Creek, the area mines produced lode gold. East, to Riverside, 6 miles off U.S. 24, last 2 miles are difficult, altitude, 12,000-13,000 feet, area copper-lead-silver mines produced a by-product of gold. Northeast 13 miles, just South of Trout Creek Pass, area mines produced lode gold. West 14 miles, near headwaters of Cottonwood Creek, small mines produced lode gold. The Chalk Creek district is in the west part of county near headwaters of Chalk Creek, 16 miles northwest of Nathrop. It had a total production, 250,000 ounces of by-product gold. Some 20 area mines in T15S R80 and 81E, but chiefly the Mary Murphy Mine was the largest producer, with 220,400 ounces of by product gold. The area creek gravel's have minor placer deposits.
The Monarch district is near Garfield at an elevation of 10,000-10,500 feet. The total production was between 15,000-20,000 ounces of by-product gold. The area mines in T49 and 50N, R6E, on old dumps there are gold showings. The Madonna Mine was a major producer of lode gold.
South of Granite 3 miles along Clear Creek, the area mines produced lode gold. 4 to 10 miles farther southwest there were numerous placers. West of Granite 15 miles, on Clear Creek, at Winfield (La Plata), elevation 9,750-12,000 feet, is a mineralized area 1-3 miles west and southwest of Winfield. Many small mines produced lode gold. In T11 and 12S R79E, with part of district in Lake Co, The area Creek gravel's contain placer gold. The area mines produced lode gold. The area in north part of county, extending north into Lake County, along Cache and Clear Creeks, there are many placer workings. Years ago I found some real nice gold on a claim on Cache leased by the Colorado Prospectors Association. This is how I got the idea for the name Tom Ashworth's Prospectors Cache.
South of Nathrop 2-3 miles, along Browns Creek, in Browns Canyon near U.S. 285, are some decent placers.
West of Salida at Monarch Pass, the area mines and dumps have gold showings. South of Salida 4 miles is the Cleora Mine that produced copper, near U.S. 50, with a by-product of gold. North of Salida 4 miles, In the Trout Creek Hills via Route 291, is the abandoned Sedalia Copper Mine ore dumps contain a by-product gold showings. West of Salida 8 miles, on east side of the Arkansas River Valley, at Sedalia, area mine dumps contain gold in abundant sphalerite. North 11 miles, along Turret Creek, area mines produced a by-product gold. North by Northeast 16 miles, to Calumet (Whitehorn) in Fremont County, elevation 9,500-10,000 feet, the area mine dumps have gold showings.
The Red Mountain area, from Twin Lakes west to the Continental Divide elevation 11,000-12,000 feet, difficult to reach, many area old mines above valley produced lode and by-product gold.
Clear Creek County Colorado
Located in the northcentral part of Colorado on the Front Range west of Denver. Clear Creek County ranks seventh among Colorado's gold producing counties, with a total of 2,400,000 ounces coming mainly from lode mines from 1859-1959, with primary production from 1859 to 1864 coming from placer deposits. The main area of interest is in the northcentral part of county 7 miles west by northwest from Central City in Gilpin County. The Alice district extends into Gilpin County and had a total prod production of 23,000 gold ounces from 1883-1959. The Alice Mine was first worked as a placer producer of 2,903 gold ounces then as a lode mine. The North Star-Mann Mine was a producer of 5,610 ounces through 1916 of lode gold.
Daily is near headwaters of West Fork of Clear Creek and Butler Gulch, 2 miles east and southeast of Jones Pass. There are many area mines that produced lode gold.
Georgetown / Silver Plume is on U.S. 6 and 40-42 miles west of Denver. The steep grades in this area are treacherous. Georgetown / Silver Plume is in west part of county. This district consisted of 25 square miles and had a total production of around 145,000 gold ounces. Area mines produced a by-product of gold. Southwest of Georgetown / Silver Plume 6 miles is the Argentine or west Argentine district. Just east of the Continental Divide, this district had a total production of 25,400 gold ounces. Along Leavenworth Creek, and on the southeast side of Leavenworth Mountain on the southeast slopes of McClellan Mountain, at head of Leavenworth Creek, 6 mi. farther southwest, many area mines produced lode and by-product gold. On Kelso Mountain, area mines produced lode gold. The Belmont Silver Lode and the Baker Mine were the largest district producers of lode gold.
Idaho Springs district embraces an unbroken succession of gold deposits extending from the town to Central City and Blackhawk in Gilpin County. It had a total production in this district of about 1,805,000 gold ounces. The mines at Cascade, Coral, Jackson Bar, Paynes Bar, Spanish Bar, and Virginia Canyon all produced lode gold. In Chicago Creek, Nevada and Illinois gulches, and Missouri Flats, there were extensive placers operations. The Gregory, Russell, Bates, Bobtail, and Mammoth mines all produced lode gold. Northwest of Idaho Springs, 2.5 miles, at Trail, Freeland and Lamartine there were numerous mines. Along Trail Creek and the Lamartine Mine, 2 miles southwest on the divide between Trail Creek, and Ute Creek, 2 to 4 miles off U.S. 6 and U.S. 40. There are many lode gold mines. West of Idaho Springs 6 miles, along Silver Creek, placer workings from old can still be observed. Northwest of Idaho Springs 10 miles (2 miles on U.S. 40 and 8 miles on Route 285), to Alice (Lincoln, Yankee Hill, elevation 10,000-11,000 feet), numerous area mines produced lode gold. The camps of Montana (Lawson, Dumont, and Downieville), the west extension of district on U.S. 6 and U.S. 40, many area mines produced lode gold.
Conejos County Colorado
West on route 15 from La Jara, is the Axel, Gilmore, Lake Fork, Ute and Stunner districts. There were many old mines that produced lode gold as a by product.
Costilla County Colorado
North of Russell you can find placer gold on Spanish, Giant and Grayback Gulches. Also in Placer Creek there is gold.
Northeast of San Luis by 7 miles to Plomo (Rito Seco), on Rito Seco Creek there are many area mines that produced lode gold in pyrite and quartz.
Custer County Colorado
Custer County ranks seventh among Colorado's gold producing counties. It produced 107,300 ounces between 1872 and 1959, mostly as a by product of silver mining.
Northeast of Silver Cliff to the old camps of Ilse and Spaulding, on Route 143 about 16 miles southwest of Florence in Fremont County, there were several old mines that produced lode gold as a by product of silver mining.
Southeast of Westcliffe 7 miles is the Rosita Hills district in the low west foothills of the Wet Mountains. It had a total production of 84,660 ounces of gold between 1870 and 1959. Most of the area mines and dumps still have gold showings. The Bassick Mine was the Major producer in this district.
Dolores County Colorado
Practically all of the 104,500 ounces of gold produced in Delores County came as a by product from lead, silver and zinc mines, so it is not an important county for the recreational prospector. Although one may be able to find some placer in the headwaters of the Dolores River, south of Rico.
The Ophir District is in the San Juan Mountains, which encompasses a triangle between Ouray (in Ouray County) to Silverton (in San Juan County) to Ophir. There are very many mines in this district, but it is in steep, rugged access and roads are bad. Make local inquiries before travel.
The Rico (or Pioneer as it sometimes called) district, is near the southwest end of the Colorado Mineral Belt near the headwaters of the Dolores River. There are many mines along route 145, 36 miles northeast of Dolores and 27 miles south of Telluride. All of these mine produced a by product of gold. Northwest of Delores, by 16 miles, at Lone Cone (Dunton), on the West Dolores River, on Route 331, there were many area mines that produced a by product of gold.
Douglas County Colorado
Probably the best places to start looking for gold in Douglas County are: Russellville Gulch and Upper Cherry Creek southeast of Franktown, Cherry Creek and its tributaries, Newlin Gulch, Happy Canyon and Lemon Creek, west of Parker.
Along Cherry Creek for several miles north of town you can find placer gold. Northwest 4-5 miles along Lemon Creek you can also find placer gold. South 1 mile in Russellville Gulch, a tributary to Cherry Creek, extending for many miles were some productive placers.
Along Dry Creek, a tributary to the South Platte River, in gravel deposits extending northeast into Arapahoe County you can find placer gold.
Northwest of Parker 1.5 miles on Route 83, in Newlin Gulch and Northwest of Newlin Gulch, in Happy Canyon, all sand and gravel deposits contain placer gold. Most of it is microscopic grains to pinhead sized nuggets.
Eagle County Colorado
There is many small gold and silver mines scattered throughout Eagle County. This county produced a total of 359,900 gold ounces.
West of Eagle 1-mile U.S. 24, and 6 to 8 miles up Brush Creek on road toward Fulford you will find copper mines that had a by-product of gold. South by Southeast of Eagle by 20 miles to Fulford at the head of Brush Creek, the area lead-silver mines produced a by-product of gold.
Gilman is in the Battle Mountain or Red Cliff district, in southeast part of the county. On northeast flank of the Sawatch Range between Gilman and Redcliff, about 20 miles north of Leadville, is the location of Eagle Mine, which was fourth largest zinc mine in America with copper, lead, silver and a by-product of gold. The Battle Mountain area mines operated 1877-78 and most produced a by-product of gold.
West of McCoy along the Colorado River the bar and bench gravel's contain placer gold.
Southwest of Minturn by 10 miles at head of Cross Creek at Holy Cross or Eagle River you can find some spotty, high-grade ores of lode gold.
Along Homestake Creek several mines produced a by-product of gold. Battle Mountain, Belden, and other area mines are located from Redcliff all way to Gilman. Most produced a by-product gold.
Elbert County Colorado
The best areas to prospect in Elbert County are: Platte River, Gold Run Creek and Ronk Gulch.
All Platte River bars and terrace gravels contain placer gold.
West and Northwest of Elizabeth 1.5 miles, along Gold Run Creek and Ronk Gulch on Route 86, about 40 miles southeast of Denver there are some good gold deposits in the gravels in this area.
El Paso County Colorado
Gold is found gold northwest of Colorado Springs by 6 miles at Blair Athol in the foothills. Most of the area gulches contain some placer gold in the gravel deposits. Also if you go southwest of Colorado Springs, via Gold Camp Road (beautiful drive in autumn) to the St. Peter's Dome district there were many old mines that produced lode gold and you can usually find placer below them.
Freemont County Colorado
The main area of interest is the gravel bars and terrace gravel's along the Arkansas River from the Chaffee County line downstream to Florence. There were many placer operations in olden days.
Badger Creek is 8 miles southeast of Salida, in Chaffee County. If you go 4 miles up Badger Creek, in the gravel bars and benches you can find placer gold, with copper minerals. This area was one of my favorites to prospect when I lived in Colorado.
West of Canon City 13 miles on U.S. 50, Currant Creek the mineralized area extending 8 miles north along creek you can find placer gold. Many area mines produced lode and by-product gold. Don't forget to visit Royal Gorge.
North of Cotopax 9 miles on U.S. 40 to Red Gulch, 24 miles southeast of Salida, the area copper-silver mines produced a by-product gold.
The Whitehorn district, east of and continuous with the Calumet district of Chaffee County, you will find many area mines that produced lode gold.
Garfield County Colorado
Glenwood Springs and Newcastle Areas
North of Glenwood Springs you can find gold on the dumps of old mines with a metal detector. Along Riffle Creek and Elk Creek you can find placer gold. On the south end of the White River Plateau (hard to get to) you can find several old lode mines that produced lead, silver and zinc with a by product of gold.
Gilpin County Colorado
Gilpin County is about 30 miles west of Denver, on the east slope of the Front Range. Gilpin County ranks second among the gold-producing Counties of Colorado. From 1859 through 1959 a total of 4,207,000 ounces of lode gold and 47,900 ounces of placer gold were produced. The main areas of interest are the northern districts of Perigo, Independence, and PineKingston-Apex, covering half a township 20 to 35 miles southwest of Boulder in Boulder County and 50-60 mi. Northwest of Denver. There are good access roads and very many mines that produced lode and by-product gold. Also the southern districts of Central, Nevada, Gregory, Russel, and Quartz Mountain, 40 to 50 miles west of Denver and southwest of Boulder. There are very many mines, prospect all dumps, for lode and by-product gold.
In Blackhwak there are many rich area mines, mostly base metal and silver, with by-product of gold. The Gregory diggings were rich placers discovered in 1859. At Russel Gulch, area gravel deposits are productive placer deposits. There are many area lode mines, in early day production, $400 per day per man at $35 an ounce -wow -.
Central City district, along South boundary of county, the North segment of the rich chain of ore deposits between Central City and Idaho Springs in Clear Creek County. This district had a total production of 4,170,000 ounces of lode gold and 30,000 ounces of placer gold. Southwest of Central City by 2.1 miles on Route 279, past ghost town of Russel Gulch, the area old mine dumps have gold showings. If you turn right onto Route 279 (unmarked) go 3.8 miles to the Gloryhole, enormous open pit with dangerous rim, you will find gold showings in a variety of minerals. If you take Road to ghost town of Apex, just North of North Clear Creek in central part of county, you will find the northern Gilpin district, extending North to the Boulder County line, most important mines lie just South of Apex. This district had a total production of 35,000 ounces lode gold. The Gilpin area, second most important mines you can look on dumps and find gold showings. In Gamble Gulch there are rich placers. The Dirt and Perigo mines, active to 1959 for lode gold.
In Rollinsville all area gulches the placers worked since 1897. Along South Boulder Creek dredging from 1937-39 produced 7,724 ounces of placer gold.
GRAND COUNTY, COLORADO
East of Grand Lake 7 miles on route 278, the area lead silver mines had a by product of gold.
Kaufman Creek is one of the five creeks that drains from the top of Gravel Mountain. Gravel Mountain, as its name implies is covered with gravel. Similar to that of Independence Mountain. All five of these creeks contain gold, but I've only prospected on Kaufman Creek. The heavy gravels in the bottom of the pan is just like those found on Independence Mountain. Leads one to think that these gravels are the result of glacial activity. On my last trip to the area, I found a false bed rock of conglomerate. With good gold at the contact zone. Have not found any nuggets, over 1/8", yet. But the area is worth prospecting.
South of Parshall, to the head of Williams Fork, is the La Plata district. It extends a few miles southeast across Jones Pass on the Continental Divide in the headwaters of the West Fork of Clear Creek. The lode gold there is often associated with pyrite.
Gunnison County Colorado
Gunnison County is on the west of the Continental Divide. Gunnison County produced 130,000 gold ounces, mostly from lode mines, but with unrecorded placer gold production between 1861 and 1880. The main area of interest is in North part of county, all area gulches, have placers. I dredge in Washington Gulch many years ago and it was productive. This was also the site of first gold discovery. Many placer workings were not recorded.
Almont is on Route 306 and this is where the Taylor River and Gunnison River meet. There used to be a nice restaurant that had a huge polar bar from Siberia stuffed in the restaurant. I always stopped there to eat. Great place that Three Rivers resort. If you go northeast from Almont 7 miles, in Spring Canyon, several lead - silver mines that had a by-product of gold. Don't forget to bring your fishing pole, this is the best fishing I have ever had in this area.
Northwest 10 miles and a few miles North of Route 135, the area silver mines had a by-product gold. If you go North 22 miles at Elk Mountain, elevation 9,500 feet, to the ghost town of Gothic, you will find numerous area copper mines that had a by product gold, silver. Don't forget the tip I give you about Washington Gulch either. I don't share many tips like that. Heh heh!
East of Gunnison 13 miles, at Gold Brick, 1-4 miles northeast of Pitkin, on fair roads, elevation 9,000-13,000 feet, numerous relatively rich mines concentrated just East of Gold Creek in an area 4 mile long by 1 mile wide.
Take Route 162 to the Quartz Creek district, also under Pitkin County, area mines produced lode gold. South 3-4 miles, at Cochetopa (Green Mt., Gold Basin), extending from Cochetopa Creek 2-4 miles West area mines produced free-milling gold.
North and Northeast 1-4 miles from Pitkin, in Southeast part of county, to include Box Canyon, the Gold Brick - The Quartz Creek district had a tot. production, 1879-1959, of 80,000 gold ounces, includes Ohio City, founded 1881 (by the way, I found a $5 gold piece here with a detector). Northeast 1-4 miles, near road, to Tincup, in South end of extensively mineralized zone, many old mines, on dumps-gold showings. South 6 miles, near U.S. 50 about 25 miles East of Gunnison, in Box Canyon, the old Independence and Camp Bird mines are located 3-4 mi. North of Waunito Hot Springs Creek via steep roads. The produced free milling gold.
In the Cebolla district, Powderhorn had many mines along Cebolla Creek that produced lode gold. Cebollo Creek contains placer gold.
North of Sargents 10 miles, at Tomichi (Whitepine), a ghost town, area mines produced lode and by-product gold.
Great place to Metal Detect. This is located 15 mi. North of Pitkin in North part of county 25 miles Northeast of Gunnison via Route 162, at head of Willow Creek on extreme southeast flank of Taylor Reservoir Park and on opposite side of 12,000-feet. Cumberland Pass from Pitkin, the Tincup district had a total production of about 16,400 ounces, of gold, mostly prior to 1932. Along Tincup Gulch, many placers can be found. At headwaters of Willow Creek you can find many area mines that was the source of the placer gold. there is a stream that flows into Taylor Reservoir, that If you follow it and go to the headwaters, by hiking, and find some nice nuggets with a sluice box.
Hinsdale County Colorado
Following silver discoveries in 1871, Hinsdale County produced about 71,365 ounces of gold through 1959.
Along Henson Creek above town and extending for 10 miles West many lead - silver - zinc and copper mines that produced a by-product gold in tellurides. South 5 miles, Lake Fork of the Gunnison River, at North end of Lake San Cristobal there are many area mines in a 5 mile stretch along Lake Fork, and the Golden Fleece Mine (noted for its tellurides) that produced lode gold. Southwest 12 miles, between Lake Fork and its tributary Henson Creek in several districts, e.g., Burrows Park (Whitecross), on Route 351 near head of Lake Fork, elevation, 10,500-12,000 feet, many area mines produced lode gold. Southwest 15 miles, at Carson at head of Wagner Gulch, mineralization extending across the divide into head of Lost Trail Creek made for many lead-silver mines that produced a by-product gold.
Huerfano County Colorado
Eleven miles southwest of Walnesburg, via U.S. 160 and 5 miles on Route 111, there are some old lead, silver and copper mines that had a by product of gold.
JACKSON COUNTY, COLORADO
Northwest of Cowdry 18 miles on route 125 to Pearl, there are a few base metal mines that had a by product of gold.
On the northern edge of North Park, is the ridge known as Independence mountain. This mountain has a 'cap' of gold bearing gravels, deposited on it through glacial action. There is no lode source of the gold found in this gravel. These placers were found in the 1800's. And is the site of an Indian raid, where a couple of miners lost their life. There are numerous old diggings, and cabins. One of the cabins I have found, is interesting, in that the fireplace is made of mud and sticks. Certain layers of this gravel is quite rich with gold. Look for the typical rust stained gravels, in areas unworked previously. I have found pea size nuggets in this area, so a metal detector should work, although I have not found any nuggets with mine, lack of experience. To reach Independence mountain, go north from Walden, to Cowdry, west of Cowdry towards the Big Creek drainage. After crossing the North Fork of the Platte, you will see the mountain in the north. BLM signs mark the roads. The best access is about seven miles from Cowdry, at the Lake John's road intersection. Turn north, and follow the road up the steep grade to the top. One mile from the saddle, is the Mitchel Placer. Most of the mantle in this area contains gold. Numerous test holes, have exposed that the gold bearing layer is quite large. Find the rust stained layer.
Southeast of Rand 9 miles at Teller on Jack Creek, elevations 9,000 to 10,000 feet, is an early day boom camp, that had many copper and silver mines that had a by product of gold.
Jefferson County Colorado
Half mile above town, on Cub Creek, small mines produced lode gold. South 1.5 miles on Route 73 is the Augusta Mine that produced a by-product gold. Southwest .75 miles on Northwest side of Cub Creek, along Route 334, and .25 miles Northwest of Route 74, mine with gold, with fluorite and silver. The Malachite Mine, notable copper producer by-product gold.
West, along Clear Creek, to East, many good placers. Area sand and gravel pits are a source of most gold in recent years.
They filter out ultra fine gold at the Coors brewery from the water!!! it was plugging up the process!!
LAKE COUNTY, COLORADO
Two of Colorados most important mining areas are in Lake County, Climax and Leadville. Only Leadville is important in gold production and accounts for most of its nearly 3,000,000 ounces. Since almost all of Leadvilles production was a by product of silver, weekend prospectors have overlooked both Climax and Leadville in favor of the Arkansas River placers.
The entire Arkansas River Valley in southern Lake County has had productive placer locations with some of the better locations being Box and Lake Creeks and California Gulch. Most of the tributaries can be counted on to turn in small amounts of placer gold.
The confluence of the Arkansas River and Lake Creek area was the general site of some the most extensive and successful placer mining operations in Colorado. Within a short distance are placer areas from numerous sources. Some 4 miles upstream from Lake Creek the Arkansas River is joined by Box Creek and several smaller outlets which provided source gold from the eastern slopes of Mount Elbert (Colorado's tallest mountain). This area was extensively worked for a considerable time period and is generally known as the Derry Ranch Placers. Lake Creek was a principal contributor of placer gold now found in the Arkansas River, draining water courses from the southern and southeastern slopes of Mount. Elbert and adjoining peaks. The majority of the gold originally was accumulated in moraine deposits, a short (6 mile) drive west on Hwy. 82 into the Twin Lakes area will quickly demonstrate the glacial valley. These lakes are now used for the production of hydroelectric power and the saving of fresh water. Originally the lakes (actually 1 lake) were created by two separate glacial flows with the end moraines providing the base dam and the upper/lower lake division. Needless to say with man's "damn" interference, gold no longer is sorted and fed down into Lake Creek from the glacial gravels. Just below the dam for a distance of about 3 miles Lake Creek again flows unimpeded. Dennis O'neil of Balltown, Colo. (a little collection of locals at the junction of Lake Creek and the Arkansas River) owns numerous claims on both Lake Creek and the Arkansas River which are open to daily fee users. Each of the various available claims areas is restricted to different prospecting methods. The most common activities are high-banking and panning. Dredging is allowed, by permit from BLM, on the Arkansas River. I have found that there are some virgin gravels on the Eastside of Lake Creek in the designated high-banking area but it is tough work as these are packed gravels. It should be noted that of the gold that is found, like most Colorado placer gold, it is of the "fine" variety and your prospecting technique requires care to maximize efforts. Occasionally small pickers and some minor flakes are found. Black sands are abundant and are filled with microscopic particles of gold. In this area water must be pumped almost 200' and considerably uphill. Fortunately you can drive to within 25-50' of the work area. Other areas are designated "panning only" along Lake Creek banks. On the Arkansas River, just 100-200 yards downstream from Lake Creek are some good high-banking areas. These most of these gravels are actually tailings piles from hydralicking and fluming operations of the late 1800's. The old miners must have only been interested in the big pieces because there are considerable fines and flakes to be found. Access is also easy by parking by State Hwy. 24 and crossing over railroad tracks to work area. Water access is also easier here although attention must be paid to fluctuating water levels as the hydroelectric operations on Twin Lakes can allow or stop large volumes of water in very short periods. I have discovered no real secret tips for working the tailings area, just make sure you aren't reworking the tailings of a "modern" prospector. The previously mentioned high-banker area on Lake Creek however does have distinct layers to be worked and better finds can be had for the gambler. As with most of the upper Arkansas River drainage no matter where you work you will find some success as I have never been able to run a single pan between the Pan Ark Lodge (Derry Ranch Placers) all the way down to Salida (50+ miles) without at least finding some color.
Along Box Creek, there was a large dredge operations for placer gold. Along lower Box Creek there was a most productive dredging operation.
Southeast of Climax 1 mile, in the Arkansas River Valley, 10 to 12 miles northeast of Leadville, is the Alicante Mine. It produced lode gold in pyrite ore. Four miles farther south, is the Birdseye Mine on the East side of the valley. It was a base metal mine, with a by product of gold.
Leadville district had a total production of 2,970,000 ounces of gold. In the area there were many great mines. I read that the last mine shut down in Leadville though (Feb. 1999 California Mining Journal). In Iowa and California gulches, there were some very rich placer mines. The old placer camp of Oro City, is now a ghost town. You couldn't tell that it once has over 10,000 residents. There are many placers that have to be worked using high bankers or trommels in the area.
La Plata County Colorado
In the area along the Animas River, all bars, benches, terraces contain placer gold.
Animas River gravel bars, benches, terraces have many placer operations near towns. North of Durango 25 miles to NeedIeton, then East 6 miles to the Needle Mountains is the Chicago Basin district (Tacoma, Florida River, Vallecito camps), elevation of 11,000-12,000 feet, many area mines produced lode gold.
The La Plata district is in La Plata Mountains. It makes up a 15-mile diameter between the San Juan Mountains on the East and the Colorado Plateau on the West. This district had a total production of about 215,000 ounces. The La Plata River gravel's had many small placer operations over the years. The area at the head of Junction Creek on East flank of the mountains, separated from town of Eagle Pass at an elevation of 11,700 feet, produced lode gold tellurides in a pyritic gold ore.
Larimer County Colorado
Elkhorn Creek would probably be the best place to start. It is located 2.5 miles north of the Cache la Poudre River.
On U.S. 287 southwest of Bellvue by 3 miles at Howes Gulch the area copper mines had a by product of gold.
West of Fort Collins at Manhattan, on a steep road about 4 miles north off of Route 14 there are some placer gold deposits in the gulches.
Mineral County Colorado
The area near Creede is the location of the Amethyst (Big) Mine, Last Chance, and New York mines. These mines were primarily lead-silver-zinc mines but produced a by-product of gold. They were early major producers of the county's 149,200 ounces by-product gold. West of Creede 2 miles, at Sunnyside, is where numerous early gold claims that produced lode gold. At Willow Creek area silver mines produced a by-product of gold. North .75 miles from Creede, on Left Fork of West Willow Creek, are the locations of the Commodore Mine that produced a by-product of gold. West of West Willow Creek is the Amethyst Lode that consisted of numerous mines for lode gold. Between the Amethyst Lode and the Commodore, all Creek gravel bars and benches contain placer gold. At end of Route 149 is the King Solomon and Sunnyside mines, at an elevation of 9,000-11,000 feet, both produced by-product gold.
Moffat County Colorado
Southwest of Craig 12 miles, at Round Bottom, on North side of the Yampa River you can find some old placer workings. West 19 miles, at Lay, on U.S. 40, with latest workings 6-10 mi. North along Lay Creek, there were some very productive placers. North 35 miles, at Fourmile Creek, and Timberline Creek, close to Route 13 near Baggs, Wyoming, 5 miles North to area of dry, rolling plains along the West base of the Elk Mountains, an area of about 30 by 40-miles of coverage, are some dry placers. The fine gold can be dry washed or recovered by blower-type machines and is 885-935 fine, with about 600 colors comprising a cent (at $35 a troy ounce).
Montrose County Colorado
The best chances of finding placer are in the Dolores River placers northwest of Uravan, La Sal Creek just northwest of Bedrock and San Miguel River from Uravan to well beyond Naturita.
The area around T46N R15W, along the San Miguel and Uncompahgre Rivers produces placer gold in all sand and gravel bars.
Paradox, on route 90 6 miles out, at La Sal Creek, there are numerous old copper mines that had a by product of gold. All the area watercourse beds, benches and terraces contain placer gold.
Ouray County Colorado
Ouray County produced 1,911,000 ounces of gold between 1873 and 1959, most of that came from the famed Camp Bird Mine as a by-product of copper, lead, and silver refining.
Just North of Ouray on East side of valley a few miles off U.S. 550 by steep grades, to Uncompahgre, an area of about 15 sq. nil. with most mines in canyon walls of the Uncompahgre River, total production of about 200,000 ounces before 1900. The American Nettie Mine, which was a phenomenally rich producer of lode gold is here. the Bachelor Mine produced a by-product gold. Many other area mines produced a by-product gold. South of Ouray by 6 miles is the Treasury Tunnel near U.S. 550 which produced gold, in sulfides. West by Southwest from Ouray 8-12 miles on Route 361, at Sneffels (Imogene Basin) is the Sneffels-Red Mountain district that had a total production of 1,723,000 ounces of by-product gold. Many area lead-silver-zinc mine produced a major amount of gold as a by-product. At the head of Canyon Creek in Imogene Basin to West of Hayden Mountain, at Sneffels (camp), many mines, especially the Camp Bird Mine produced a by-product gold. At head of Red Mt. Creek to East of Hayden Mountain, is the location of the Red Mountain camp, many area mines produced a by-product gold. South 12 miles, at Red Mountain Pass, elevation 11,018 feet, is the Longfellow Mine that produced a by-product gold.
Park County Colorado
Gold is the main metal mined in Park County. It had a total production of 1,364,430 ounces of gold between 1859-1959, mostly for the lode mines along the east slope of the Mosquito Mountain Range in the Northwestern portion of the county.
The Alma district is located east of Leadville and had a total production of 1,320,00 ounces of lode gold and 28,000 ounces of placer gold between 1859-1959. Northeast of Alma about a 1/2 mile, along the east side of the South Platte River, the placers produced great. Coarse gold nuggets to several ounces have been found. All the area tributary creeks and gulches, in gravel deposits contain placer gold. On Mount Lincoln and Mount Bross, rich area lode mines, especially the London Mine (richest producer in the county, closed in 1942) produced most of the gold and silver. Near the head waters of the South Platte River, along the Continental Divide, on North Star Mountain, all area gulches contain placer gold. Northwest of Alma, 2~6 miles, many small mines produced lode gold. North of Alma 5~10 miles is the Consolidated Montgomery Mine. This mine is at an altitude of around 11,000 feet and produced a by product of gold. In Buckskin Gulch, the Sweethome Mine was a good producer. Around Mosquito creek, all streams produce placer gold.
In the area of Beaver Creek, in out wash gravels from the South Platte Glacier you can find placer gold. West of Bailey, 14 miles many area mines produced a byproduct of gold.
Northwest of Como, along the upper reaches of Tarryall Creek and its tributaries, is the Tarryall district. This district produced a minimum of around 67,000 of placer gold and 250 ounces of lode gold. On Tarryall Creek, on the east slope of Silverheels Mountain, extending for several miles southeast of town, you can find extensive placer workings. There are many small mines in this area. In Montgomery and Deadwood Gulches, near the headwaters, lode mines are the probable sources of Tarry Creek Placer gold. I dredge on Tarryall Creek in the Michigan Creek Campground in 1983 and found some real nice gold. This is located just above the Tarryall Reservoir.
The Fairplay district produced 202,000 ounces of placer gold, mostly along the South Platte River in the snowstorm and Fairplay Placers. Along Sacramento and Beaver Creek is excellent placer ground. The area Southeast of town in glacial out wash gravels contains placer gold. At the head of Fourmile Creek is the Horseshoe Mine and it was a good producer. North of Fourmile Creek and south of Mosquito Creek is the Sacramento Mine that produced a by product of gold.
At Geneva Creek on Collier Mountain and at the headwaters of West Geneva Creek you can find placer gold.
East on U.S. 24 from Hartsel to Wilkerson Pass are a few old mines that produced a by product of gold.
Pitkin County Colorado
In the area of Roaring Fork (including town and Richmond Hill, Lenado, principal mines within 1 mile of Aspen, the Mollie Gibson and Smuggler mines, and others produced a by-product gold. North of Aspen 10 miles, at ghost town of Ashcroft on Castle Creek, the area mines produced a by-product gold. Southeast of Aspen 15 miles, at Lincoln Gulch, mineralized area at head of gulch and 10 miles from Route 82 via poor road, on West side of Ruby Mountain, the area base-metal mines and minor gold production. Southeast of Aspen 20 miles, is the Independence Pass district, mines on West Aspen Mountain had a total production of 25,000 ounces.
Rio Grande County Colorado
In the 1880s this county ranked third among Colorado's gold-producing counties, with a total of 257,600 ounces produced through 1947.
West of Del Norte about 8 miles, along Embargo Creek on both sides of the county line, various mines that produced lode gold.
Southwest of Monte Vista 30 miles, to Jasper (Decatur), area mines and prospects .5 mile Northwest on Alamosa Creek for lode gold.
The Summitville district, in SW corner of the county, high in the San Juan Mountains, had a total production from 1873-1959, of about 257,600 ounces. The Little Annie Group of mines were the principal producers of lode gold. At the head of Whightman Fork (tributary of Alamosa Creek), at an elevation of 11,000-12,000 feet, the area mines produced a by-product gold. On South Mountain, both sides area mines produced lode gold, you can see vein exposures throughout 1.5 miles North to South and 1 mi. East to West of lode gold.
Routt County Colorado
Probably the best place to look for gold would be Deep and Willow Creeks in the northern part of the county.
Around Columbine there are a few old gold mines.
Around Hahns Peak there a few of the streams contain placer gold.
Saguache County Colorado
The best area to check out would be in the extreme southwest part of the county, along Embargo Creek and extending into the Del Norte County. The area watercourse gravel's, contain placer gold. The area base metal mines produce a by-product gold.
Northeast of Moffat 10 miles, on Cotton Creek at Blake, at head of Creek on West slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Range, many old mines produced a by-product gold. East of Moffat by 15 miles, at Crestone, area 3-6 mi. wide, scattered mines produced a by-product gold.
North of Saguache 12 miles, in the northeast part of the county is the Bonanza (Kerber Creek) district which had a total production of 17,000 gold ounces as by-product of base-metal and silver mines. Near Bonanza camp, there are numerous area mines, especially, the Rawley Mine, which produced a by-product gold. In North part of district, many small mines produced gold telluride's.
West toward Bonanza along Kerber Creek in the Cochetopa Hills at northwest end of the San Luis Valley, elevation 9,500-10,000 feet, the area copper-zinc mines produced by-product gold.
San Juan County Colorado
A major producer, San Juan County yielded 1,665,000 ounces of lode gold through 1959.
Northeast of Silverton on U.S. 550, at Animas (district), a belt of rich mines several miles wide along the South rim of the Silverton caldera, with mines along both sides of the Animas River produced lode gold (estimated total production is between 874,000 to 1,000,000 ounces. West of Silverton 3 miles, the area copper mines produced a by-product gold. In Arrastre Basin, Silver Lake Basin, and Cunningham Gulch, such major mines as the Shenandoha-Dives, Aspen, Silver Lake-Nevada, and Highland Mary produced lode gold. In the upper part of Cunningham Gulch, major base metal mines produced a by-product gold. Near mouth of gulch, major mines produced lode gold. Northeast of Silverton 4 miles, the Senorita Mine, copper with a by-product gold was produced. North, at Eureka (Cement Creek, Mineral Creek, and Animas Forks), the Eureka district had a total production of at least 500,000 gold ounces through 1959. The area base metal mines produced by-product gold. Beyond Eureka, the Sunnyside and Cold King mines, 8.1 miles northeast of Silverton produced gold in sulfides. East 19 miles, mostly by trail (50 mi. West Of Creede in Mineral County), at Bear Creek, mines produce gold telluride's.
San Miguel County Colorado
Between 1875 and 1959 San Miguel County produced 3,837,000 gold ounces, to become the third ranking county in Colorado in gold production.
Many regional placer deposits are scattered over the county, 1878-1959, produced 9,700 gold ounces. In southeast part of the county, on West spur of Mount Wilson, the Mount Wilson district, at head of Big Bear Creek, had a total production of 24,800 ounces. The Silver Pick Mine was major producer of lode gold in the area. There are many area small mines that had gold showings.
The Ophir district, in east part of county, including area South of the San Miguel River, West of Bridal Veil Creek, and the Ophir Valley on the South including the Ames (ghost camp), Iron Springs, and South Telluride mining areas all had rich mining camps. South of Ophir 1 mile, at Ames, area old mines extending 6 miles east to Iron Springs, Base the metal ores produced lode gold in quartz. Ophir Valley, many area mines, especially the Alta Mine produced lode gold.
The Telluride district, along East border of county immediately southwest of the Sneffels - Red Mountain district in Ouray County, had a total production through 1959 of 3,000,000 gold ounces. The Liberty Bell Mine, producer of 633,021 ounces, 1898-1921 produced lode gold. The Smuggler - Union Mine, closed in 1928 after 52 years, and the Tomboy Mine, closed in 1927, produced lode gold. East to head of the San Miguel River, the Upper San Miguel district, elevation 11,000-12,000 feet, many area mines produced lode and by-product gold. Northwest 14 miles, the Lower San Miguel district (Placerville, Sawpit, and Newmire) had some very productive placers.
Summit County Colorado
Ranking first in Colorado for placer gold production and tenth for lode gold, Summit County produced an estimated minimum of 739,511 ounces from placer mines and 271,159 ounces from lode mines through 1959.
The area near the northern county line, along Route 9 you will find the Big Four Mine, which is 16 miles south of Kremmling in Grand County, area lead-zinc mines produced a by-product gold.
In the Breckenridge or Blue River district, including the tipper valley of the Blue River between the Front Range on the East and the Tenmile Range on the West had a total production of 1,000,000 gold ounces of which 735,000 ounces came from placer deposits. In all regional stream channels, gulches, benches, etc. you can find placers. East and northeast of town, in area of about 5 square miles, there are many lead-silver mines that produced a by-product gold. In Georgia Gulch, on North side of Farncomb Hill, rich area placers discovered in 1859, area lode mines, discovered in 1880, especially the Wellington Mine, chief producer, it was so rich in native gold that pockets supplied collectors and museums throughout the world with specimens of wire and leaf gold. Along the Swan and Blue rivers, many deep placers worked by dredges after 1900.
Frisco is located 4 miles southwest of Dillon and in the Tenmile district. It includes old camps of Kokomo and Robinson in the Tenmile Valley on the West Side of the Tenmile Range and had a total production from 1861-1959, of 52,000 gold ounces, mostly as by-product of base-metal ores. Area old mine dumps contains gold, with galena and pyrite. Various local small creek placers are around like Kokomo, in McNulty Gulch, rich placers discovered in 1861, and many mines along valley of Tenmile creek for 2-3 miles northeast and 5 miles southwest to Robinson. On East Side of valley, in the Tenmile Range, on West, slopes, many base-metal mines produced lode gold.
Teller County Colorado
Lying west of Colorado Springs in the southern part of the Front Range, Teller County produced 19,100,867 ounces of gold between 1859 and 1959.
The Cripple Creek District, 45 miles southwest of Colorado Springs, near Pikes Peak, leading gold producing district in Colorado and second in the United States, next to the Homestake Mining Company in Lead, South Dakota. There are very many huge mines, such as the Washburn, Independence, Portland, Granite, Strong, Vindicator, Golden Cycle, Victor, Isabella, and Cresson, all of which produced lode gold. The regional pits and prospects produce well from gold telluride's. On Mt. Pizgah, several early day prospects, low-grade gold showings.
Washington County Colorado
The Akron Placers are located northwest of Akron.
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