Gold Mining near Santa Fe, New Mexico

San Pedro Mountains

The New Placers mining district was composed of the gold camps of San Pedro, Golden and Tuerto; and the combined area is particularly situated on the strategic flanks of the San Pedro Mountains. The area is accessible via dirt roads that lead east from State Highway 10, near the ghost town of Golden. Placer gold existed in sub-angular debris and disintegrated materials at the foot of the northern, western and southern sides of the San Pedro Mountains. These placers have been further concentrated in gulches and creeks that cut into the gravel beds of the mountains. The northern flank carried the richest source of gold, which was recovered from the creek gravels along the tributaries of the Arroyo Tuerto, near Golden and in Old Timer Creek.

The southern flank of the mountains accounted for the recoveries of gold from the stream gravels of the San Lazarus Creek in the San Pedro quadrangle.

These placers were developed through the erosion of small fissures and crevices in Oligocene-to-early Miocene-age intrusive rocks, or rock layers in molten conditions, filled with quartz and gold-pyrites; and, of little pockets of gold-pyrites disseminated from tactites, or metamorphic crystalline carbonate rocks.

Many patented mining claims are located all over San Pedro Mountain. Explore the adjacent gulches away from the private lands and claims.

Ortiz Mountains

The Old Placers area was indicated as the town of Real de Dolores and the Ortiz Mountains, which was separated by Arroyo Tuerto and Arroyo La Joya from the San Pedro Mountains. The area is reached via dirt roads leading east from State Highway 10, near the towns of Cerrillos on the northern part of the range, and Golden on the southern side of the mountains.

The specific locations of the placers were the eastern and southern slopes of the Ortiz Mountains, where gold was found in both mesa and creek gravels. The eastern slope produced the most substantial placers, which were recovered from mesa gravels at the mouth of Cunningham Gulch.

Abundant quantities of gold were also found in the creek gravels of Dolores Gulch and Arroyo Viejo. On the southern slopes of the mountains, north of Arroyo Tuerto, in the vicinity of Lucas Canyon, placer deposits were not as abundant as those discovered near the town of Dolores.

These placers coming from both the eastern and southern slopes of the Ortiz Mountains were derived from the local veins. In Cunningham Gulch, where the richest placers were, the ore deposits came from distinct quartz fissure veins found at the Ortiz Mines and Dolores Mine. On the southern side of the mountains, many other mines and prospects are scattered throughout the Ortiz Mountains. Many of these placer deposits are found in the dry washes that can be worked with modern dry washers.

Sangre de Cristo Mountains

The Santa Fe mining area counted the Sangre de Cristo Mountains as the main location of its placer gold. The district is accessible from Santa Fe County, where a dirt road leads up to the Santa Fe River towards the McClure Reservoir. Note that much of this area is inaccessible to the public.

Placer gold is reported to occur upstream in the Santa Fe River in the upper portion of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range. Gold production history is unknown for this area.

Gold Mining in New Mexico

In general, New Mexico is not well-known for producing large gold nuggets. Most successful gold miners use simple drywashers to recover fine gold deposits for dry gulches. Sometimes sensitive VLF gold detectors can be used to locate small gold nuggets as well.

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