Timeline of mining in Colorado

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For Colorado extraction of power from the wind and the sun, see Colorado wind farms and Colorado solar fields.

Colorado mining history is a chronology of precious metal mining (e.g., mining for gold and silver), fuel extraction (e.g., mining for uranium and coal), building material quarrying (iron, gypsum, marble), and rare earth mining (titanium, tellurium)[1] etc. The Uravan Mineral Belt (UMB) is on the west side of the state, and the Colorado Mineral Belt (COMB) is a large area of the state[2] had gold/silver booms. Outside of the UMB & COMB, the Denver Basin produced small amounts of gold, and the Cripple Creek district had a different gold boom.

Date Type District Event
2011-10-26 uranium UMB The Pinon Ridge Mill construction in Paradox Valley near Bedrock, Colorado, was approved by the EPA ("litigation on the License and funding" is pending.)[3]
2009-03-18 uranium UMB The Topaz Mine closed as the last Colorado uranium mine.
2008 Spring gold COMB: Gold Hill The Cash mine was "Colorado's only active underground gold mine", producing "50 tons of ore" per day at "three quarters of an ounce of gold per ton"[4] (it and the Rex mine had reopened by 2007 in Boulder County, Colorado.)
2004 Fall nahcolite Piceance Basin America Soda project fracturing ended after 4 years[5] (the basin has "the only known source of natural sodium bicarbonate"[6] c. 1947[7] in the "Piceance lobe of Lake Uinta".)
[specify] gold Cripple Creek The Cresson "open pit operation" became the state’s largest[specify] gold-producing mine (production peaked in 2004, and the mine in 2008 was 1 of 178 active in Colorado.[8])
1996-05 gemstones State Line Kimberlite District The 2nd commercial diamond operation in North America began commercial output near the Wyoming border and was the only modern US diamond mine (district discovery in 1976, exploration 1990-1, closed 2001, reclaimed 2003-6).
1995 molybdenum COMB: Leadville The Climax mine closed (planned in April 2006 to be reopened by the Phelps Dodge Corporation,[citation needed] reopened May 10, 2012).
1994 uranium UMB The Uravan Historic District was designated: 1912 boarding house, 1936 store, and 1936 CCC/1942 Army building (U.S. Vanadium Corp founded the 1929 town, and the mill had closed in 1984 & became a Superfund site in 1987).[9][10] Standard Chemical's 1911 radium "concentrator mill" was near to and south of the later Uravan site and was sold to US Vanadium in 1929.[11] The "coke ovens of Standard Chemical Co.'s headquarters on Dry Creek" were "3.8 miles southwest of" Naturita, Colorado (with "bronze tablet stamped “5483”" [feet]).[12][13]
1991 gold The Summitville mine (now a Superfund site) was served with a cease-and-desist order by the state government concerned with metal levels in water run-off.
1991 Spring uranium "Tailings relocation to the Cheney disposal cell started... Remedial action at the [overall] site was completed in 1994"[14] (the 60-acre cell is part of the 360-acre site).[15]
1992 museum The mining portion of the Creede Underground Mining Museum was completed.
1990 (circa)[16] gemstones Glacier Peak Mining had begun conducting digs with visitors at the Topaz Mountain Topaz Claim.[17]
1990 (by) gold Cripple Creek District production reached 21,000,000 troy ounces (650 t), the most of any Rocky Mountain district[citation needed] (the 1st large-scale open pit gold mining would begin in 1994.)
1987-04-05 museum The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum opened in Leadville.
tbd gold COMB The Colorado Mineral Belt's last gold mining facility[specify] closed after the belt had produced 25 million troy ounces (778 t).[citation needed]
1972 uranium The 92nd United States Congress[verification needed] created the Grand Junction Remedial Action Plan (594 buildings affected over 15 years.)[10]
1970 museum The Museum of the West was incorporated and was renamed the 1972 Western Museum of Mining & Industry (located at the I-25 Northgate exit for the USAF Academy).
1965 uranium Ralston Buttes District The 1953[10] Schwartzwalder uranium mine was the largest US underground uranium mine and closed 2000 after 17 million pounds—contamination was discovered in 2007[18] (entire district yield of 10,000 tons uranium ore—mostly pitchblende—from "November 1953 through October 1956".)[19]
1960 gold COMB: Central City-Idaho Springs Central City's mining ended after 4.2 million troy ounces (131 t) of gold had been produced since 1859.[citation needed]
1959-01-22 aluminum COMB The aluminum beer can was introduced by Coors (the 600 Ninth St cannery in Golden, Colorado, was named a 2009 historical landmark by the ASM.)[20]
1957 uranium The Grand Junction Pilot Plant at the A.E.C. Compound along the Gunnison River processed 2000 tons of North/South Dakota lignites, confirming their "reserve of uranium".[21]
1956 titanium Iron Hill carbonatite complex "Du Pont Corporation staked claims and acquired properties and mineral rights at Iron Hill", "the largest known resources of titanium and niobium in the United States."[22]
1954 uranium Coffinite was 1st identified in the United States at the La Sal No. 2 Mine on Beaver Mesa in Mesa County, Colorado.[23]
1949 museum The National Park Service purchased the Lulu City, Colorado, mining settlement (placed on the NRHP in 1977.)
1945-07-16 uranium "Durango yellow cake [sic] was used in the development of the first atomic bomb":[24] uranium-vanadium sludge from the Durango "green sludge" plant was refined at Grand Junction[25] into yellow cake and was shipped "to the Linde refinery in Tonawanda, New York",[26] for conversion to uranium tetrafluoride ("green salt"), which was taken to nearby Niagara Falls' Electro Metallurgical Company "to convert it to uranium metal [shipped in] 110- to 135-kilogram ingots ... to Hanford and other MED sites.")[27][28]
1943 uranium The War Department acquired 54 acres (22 ha) at Grand Junction for a Manhattan Engineer District refinery (produced "an estimated 2.36 million pounds of uranium oxide".)[29]
1941 (by) iron Pueblo's 1881 open-hearth steel plant had become the largest steel mill west of the Mississippi River and was the largest single industrial establishment in Colorado.[30]
[specify] gold COMB: Sneffels-Red
The 1875 district in the San Juan Mountains, including Ouray and Silverton, ended gold mining after 10 million troy ounces (311 t) had been produced[citation needed]6,800,000 troy ounces (210 t) had been produced through 1859.[citation needed]]]
1927 coal The Columbine Mine massacre, part of the 1890-1930 Coal Wars, had striking miners being machine gunned by state police.

Radium boom[edit]

1923 radium UMB The belt's mines went out of business due to lower costs producing Belgian Congo radium.[31]
1920 (by) gypsum A "thick bed of gypsum" was discovered at Perry Park, Colorado.[32]
1917-04-27 coal The Victor American Hastings Mine Disaster was a coal mine fire of the Victor American Fuel Company at Hastings in Las Animas County, Colorado.
1915 molybdenum COMB: Leadville Shipments began from the mine at Climax, Colorado (discovered 1879, ownership transferred 1918).
1915 zinc COMB: Leadville Zinc production dominated in the district.[33]
1914 radium The National Radium Institute was founded—its Denver plant began preliminary operations in March[34] (new owners in 1916,[35] closed in the 1920s—now the 1983 "Denver Radium Superfund site" with 1995 Home Depot.)[36]
1914-04-20 coal [specify] The 10-day Ludlow Massacre ended after the National Guard had killed 19 striking coal miners, 2 women, and 11 children.
1913-09-23 coal A coal mine strike[where?] began[37] that caused the Colorado Coalfield War (1913–14).
1910 radium UMB

"The radium boom got underway in 1910 when the Standard Chemical Company started producing radium and vanadium" ("Joe Dandy property ...south of Uravan.")[10]

Cripple Creek Gold Rush[edit]

[specify] gold Cripple Creek Daily[38] district production reached 730 tonnes of ore[citation needed] (1904 smelting capacity for the district was 2200 tons per day.)[38]
1907 gold Cripple Creek Colorado Springs' Golden Cycle Mill to process district ore/tailings was completed as the "most modern cyanide mill in the world"[39] (state's largest by 1941).[30][dubious ]
1904-06-09 gold Cripple Creek The call room pit of Goldfield's mining exchange hall was used to imprison 5 of the 6 city council members with "armed deputies in the galleries" and guards at the door with "repeating shot guns with buckshot"—an "assault" by 150 militiamen/deputies also closed the Portland mine[40][40][41][42] (the Police Magistrate was held in the Victor armory.)[43][44]
1904-06-08 gold Cripple Creek The mining camp on Big Hill at Dunnville was captured by a trainload of soldiers that defeated union miners.[45][46]
1903-04 gold Cripple Creek Colorado City's Camp Peabody of Colorado National Guardsmen ended after being established for a district miners' strike[47] (cf. 1904 Fort Peabody in southwest Colorado.)
1901 (by) aluminum COMB Bauxite was discovered near Buena Vista, Colorado.[48]
1900 gold Gold production peaked in Colorado[citation needed] when Cripple Creek district production peaked[49] "with over 878,000 ounces of gold produced"[31] as "cost again overtook price".[50]
1900 (circa) tungsten Ores containing tungsten were found in and around Nederland, Colorado[35] (1904 was listed as the first for state tungsten production at $130,000.)[51]
1900 uranium UMB The first mill for radioactive metals was built on La Sal Creek by Charles Poulot and Charles Voilleque,[52] closing in 1902 after producing "15,000 pounds of uranium oxide" (Western Refining Company operated it 1903-4.)[53]
1898 uranium UMB The 1st shipment of carnotite ore was 10 tons from the Copper Prince claim on Roc Creek and "carried 20 per cent. U3O8 and 15 per cent. V2O5."[54]
1898 uranium UMB In Paris,[55] Carnotite from the American carnotite field was named by Poulet, who built an 1899 mill in the McIntyre mining district.)[56]
1896-09 gold Cripple Creek The "Standard" roast-chlorination mill at Colorado City,[2] the largest U.S. mill of that type, was completed by the Colorado-Philadelphia Reduction Company.[39]
1896-07 silver COMB: Leadville The Leadville Miners' Strike by a local organization of the Western Federation of Miners unsuccessfully attempted to get higher wages.
1895-12-16 gold Cripple Creek The Cripple Creek Exchange had 68 mines listed—about 40 "producing ore" ("first-class" private mines--Independence, Victor, Moose, Rebecca, and Doctor—were not listed.)[57]
1895-12-12 Colorado Springs had "four Mining Exchanges and 275 mining brokers"[58] after adding a nighttime exchange (cf. Denver, Pueblo, and Cripple Creek mining exchanges).[59]
1895 (circa) copper Copper was discovered near Bedrock, Colorado (the Cashin Mine was in full operation by 1899), and coke ovens were built "4 miles west of Naturita ... for the Cashin Mine Mill" (in 1911, "The Standard Chemical Company (Standard Chemical) established its headquarters at the old Coke Ovens, 4 miles west of Naturita, Colorado.[60] ("Standard Chemical ... From 1912 through 1914 ... operated a dry-processed concentrator ... at the present site of Uravan [and] changed its operation to a wet concentration process in 1914 and expanded its facility, which was known as the Joe Junior Mill.[13]
1894-05 gold Cripple Creek The only time a US state militia was called out in support of striking workers was for the Cripple Creek miners' strike of 1894.
1893 gold Cripple Creek The 1st chlorination plant for the district's ore was erected by Edward Holden (cf. 1895 barrel chlorination mill at Gillette as in North Carolina and the Black Hills).[38]
1893-06-30 iron Colorado Fuel and Iron Co. properties extended to Hog Back Canyon in Mesa County, Colorado.[61]
1892 gold "Mining booms at Creede and Cripple Creek"[62] (Creede silver was discovered at the Alpha mine in 1869, the Holy Moses strike was in June 1891, and "Creede's boom lasted until 1893.")[31] The "Creede Mining District" is EPA site CO0001992577.[63]
1891-07-04 Pueblo's Mineral Palace was completed with "a ceiling formed of 28 domes [and] specimens of all the minerals produced in the State."[64]
1890-10-20 gold Cripple Creek A rancher of Poverty Gulch[65] discovered placer gold southwest of Pikes Peak (along a creek named for having crippled cows),[65] and the Cripple Creek Gold Rush followed (district gold deposits[66] were discovered in 1891.)[38]
1886-08 gold Manhattan Mining District[67]

Two prospectors of the Fort Collins Mining Company discovered gold in the creeks north of the Poudre River (the associated camp was later named Manhattan, Colorado.)

Colorado Silver Boom[edit]

1884 silver COMB: Leadville The district's "burst of development" ended (silver output peaked 1881-2,[33] and 1887 annual mining production was $12,072,967.81--"nearly one-half the [state's] product".)[68]
1882-10 (by) aluminum Cryolite had been discovered at St. Peter's Dome along the original tollway road to Pike's Peak.[69][70][71]
1882 coal Colorado Springs lignite field The field's 1st mine "worked to any extent" was the Franceville Mine[72] after "completion of the Denver and New Orleans Railroad in July, 1882".[73]
1882-08-01 National Mining Exposition ("Industrial Exposition") opened in Denver.[74]
1881 uranium UMB Tom Talbert[13] discovered the belt's yellow uranium oxide (named carnotite in 1898) at Roc Creek[10] ("oldest uranium mining area in the U.S.").[75]
1879 silver COMB: Leadville The Colorado Silver Boom began (district mining camps were at Aspen, Finntown, etc.)
1878 coal Erie, Colorado, established the first mining labor union in Colorado (Knights of Labor Local #771).[76]
1877 silver COMB: Leadville Active silver prospecting began in the district (A. B. Wood made the 1st "practical discovery" of the district's California Gulch "rich silver-lead ores" after his 1874 arrival.)[33]
1876 The Colorado Mining Association formed (incorporated 1897).
1876[35] tellurium Tellurium Belt The "site of the first Tellurium discovery in Colorado" was at the Boulder County's El Moro Mine[77][78] (the tellurium belt through the Gold Hill, Sunshine, Magnolia, and Sugar Loaf districts is 20 miles x 3–6 miles wide.)[35]
1874 lead/zinc COMB: Leadville Initial lead & zinc "lodes found" were at tbd during the beginning of the Colorado Silver Boom.[citation needed]
1873 marble Yule Marble was discovered in the Crystal River Valley and was used in the 1921 & 1931 unknown soldier memorials and parts of the 1914-22 Lincoln Memorial.[79]
1871 uranium COMB: Central City-Idaho Springs The 1st pitchblende (Uraninite) was identified in the United States at the Wood gold mine in Central City.
1870 coal A Dakota Group coal bed was discovered at Brush Creek (1873 deposits of the group were observed "about midway between Denver and Colorado Springs".)[80]
1870-05-02 Territorial School of Mines construction by an Episcopal Bishop began at Golden City (sold 1874 to the Territory of Colorado) and preceded the 1874 Colorado College.
1868 gold COMB: Central City-Idaho Springs

The 1st smelter of the area that became the State of Colorado was erected by Nathaniel P. Hill in Gregory Gulch with an arastra to pulverize ore at Blackhawk[30] (the 1st copper smelting works was a facility operating by 1873 and was associated with M. B. Hayes[81] of the New York Mills at Blackhawk.)[82]

Pikes Peak Gold Rush[edit]

1867 gold The Pikes Peak Gold Rush ended after 1.25 million troy ounces (39 t) had been produced.[citation needed]]]
1866 clay Clay of the Dakota Group was discovered around Golden (pressed/ornamental brick was being made by 1882; and Canon City, Colorado, clay was developed in 1900.)[83]
1864-09-14 silver Argentine district[84] The "Belmont lode" at McClellan Mountain,[85] "the first important discovery of a silver-bearing lode, was discovered by Governor Steele, James Huff, and Robert Layton.[86]
1864 silver Montezuma district "The first silver discovery in Colorado was a mile south of Montezuma".[84]
c. 1864 gold COMB: Leadville The district's placer mining ended within 4 years of an 1860 Oro City discovery.[citation needed]]]
c. 1861 gold COMB: Leadville The single richest placer gold strike during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush occurred on the Arkansas River.[citation needed]]]
1860-07-16[87] gold "The Russell brothers owned the Consolidated Ditch Company and [completed] the ditch at a cost of $100,000.00" for hydraulic gold mining [12] ("gulch-mining").[87]
1860-04-01 gold The census population of the goldfields[verification needed] was 34,277.
1860-02-01 gold Clark, Gruber and Company 1st struck gold coins at their 16th/Market St mint (bought by the US Treasury in 1863—new construction at W Colfax/Delaware streets began in 1897).
1859-11-06 "About two hundred inhabitants" at Auraria elected Hiram J. Graham the Delegate to Congress "to get the Pike's Peak gold mines set apart from Kansas as a new Territory".[85]:18
1859-10-24 gold Goldfield voters created the Jefferson Territory (1,852 to 280) and elected a governor, but rejected a new state initiative (Fountain City's April 7, 1859, vote for a separate state was the 1st.)[88]
1859-07-05 gold Gregory "The first water power arastra was brought into Gregory Diggings July 5th, 1859, by J. D. Peregrine...near where the Norton mill now stands, in Black Hawk. An [ox-powered] arastra...had arrived a week earlier."[87]
1859 coal Coal mining began in Colorado by 2 men at a deposit[specify] between Denver and Boulder, Colorado.[89]
1859 gold COMB: Gregory The first mining district in Colorado[verification needed] was founded[90] by John Hamilton Gregory[91] after his find in Gregory Gulch.[citation needed]]]
1859-05-06 gold Colorado's 1st hard rock gold was discovered by Gregory in a lode vein "north of Clear Creek near the [subsequent] town of Black Hawk"[citation needed] ("claim no. 5 on the Gregory lode",[86] named "Gregory Diggings" by 1878.)[87]
1858-09 gold News of placer gold discoveries in Arapahoe County reached Omaha, precipitating the Pike's Peak Gold Rush.[citation needed]
1859-04 gold George A. Jackson's discovery of pay placer gold on Chicago Creek was "the first really important discovery of [Colorado] gold"[86] (on May 5 Simpson found gold at the Cherry Cr/South Platte River confluence .)[92]
1858-07 gold Two prospectors[93] discovered placer gold "five miles up" Little Dry Creek, and "Placer Camp" was established at the mouth of Dry Creek[85] (Montana City was established north of the diggings[93] in August and was the 1st settlement of modern Denver.)
1857 gold Gold "claimed to have been obtained in the mountains of [the later state of] Colorado, was collected and exhibited by ...Cherokee Indians in ... the Middle West.[86]
1857 summer gold Prospectors from the Territory of New Mexico dug near Little Dry Creek[citation needed] in the 1855 Arapahoe County of the 1854 Kansas Territory.
1850-06-22 gold A prospector en route to the California Gold Rush panned 0.25 oz (7.1 g) of gold near the mouth of Ralston Creek, and the party continued to the Gold Country.
1848 gold South Park districts Ezekial Williams "claims to have penetrated into the South Park [by June 1813] and to have discovered gold" ("Fairplay Sentinel's history of Park county".)[87]
1807 gold COMB: South Park districts Zebulon Pike at tbd heard a report[who?] of gold in South Park (Park County, Colorado)[94][verification needed] (in 1807 at South Park, the 1st "European American to report finding gold in Colorado was James Purcell.")[95]
1758 gold A Frenchman's map depicted a gold mine north of the Arkansas River near a tributary running from a mountain: he described "a rivulet whose waters rolled down gold dust."[50]
[specify] Spaniards "toward the Spanish Buttes of southcentral Colorado" searched for the legend of "Guajatola, the "breasts of the world" (cf. Coronado's 1541 gold trek to "Quiviras").[50]
Miocene gold Cripple Creek The Cripple Creek caldera formed with quartz latite porphyry containing ore bodies (veins) and replacement zones) of gold and silver tellurides, with accessory fluorite.[citation needed]]]
Eocene coal The Dakota Group formed with coal deposits eastward to an area south of modern Denver[96] (e.g., the Colorado Springs lignite field).


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  39. ^ a b Ellis, Don (July 2003). "TIDBITS: Colorado-Philadelphia and Standard Mills" (newsletter article posted as webpage). The Red Rock Rag (The Red Rock Canyon Committee). Retrieved 2013-12-09. "In June of 1885, [James J.] Hagerman became president of [Irving] Howbert's Colorado Midland Railway Company which soon built its rail yards and shops in Colorado City and began laying track around the north end of Red Rock Canyon, on around Manitou, up Ute Pass to Hayden Divide, through Florrissant, and on across South Park. The Colorado Midland built a spur almost a mile up Red Rock Canyon to haul stone from the quarries. ...build the Midland Terminal Railroad from the Hayden Divide station (now Divide) to Cripple Creek. ...David Moffat built the Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad which reached Cripple Creek on July 2, 1894... Rather than being metallic gold in quartz ... Cripple Creek's ore was ... gold tellurides: sylvanite and calverite [for which a] stamp mill was almost useless... A new kind mill of was built in the town of Lawrence [near] Victor. This mill used a new chlorination process imported from the Transvall[[{{subst:DATE}}|{{subst:DATE}}]] [disambiguation needed]. [sic] ... In December of 1895, the chlorination mill at Lawrence burned to the ground. ... The first shovel full of dirt for the new Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek District Railroad was turned in January of 1900. ... In 1907 John Milliken built the Golden Cycle Mill which was the most modern cyanide mill in the world. ... The Golden Cycle continued milling Cripple Creek ore until 1948 and created the immense tailings pile [known as] Gold Hill Mesa. ... Philadelphia Standard and Reduction Mill" 
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  52. ^ Twitty, Eric (March 1992) (form for Multiple Property Listing). Guide to Assessing Historic Radium, Uranium, and Vanadium Mining Resources in Montrose and San Miguel Counties, Colorado (Report). OMB No.1024-0018. http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/co/field_offices/uncompahgre_field/documents/cultural_resource.Par.97850.File.dat/Guide%20to%20Assessing%20Historic%20Mining%20Resources%20Part%20I.pdf. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
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  56. ^ Curran, Thomas F. V. (December 20, 1913) (Google books). Carnotite--I (Report). http://books.google.com/books?id=FJEgAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA1165&lpg=PA1165&dq=Freidel+Cumenge+colorado&source=bl&ots=cFa-TOpQWj&sig=uGmFMJqo4XWhJEMrumdq131eA3w&hl=en&sa=X&ei=-9bOUq3zG5LgsASukoDgCw&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=Freidel%20Cumenge%20colorado&f=false. Retrieved 2014-01-09. "Radium was isolated in 1908 by Professor and Mme. Curie."
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