Gold Mining in Hillsboro, New Mexico

Hillsboro is a famous town in New Mexico that was founded after silver and gold was discovered in 1870s. The town is still in existence today, but the population is much smaller than it was during its heyday.

The history of Hillsboro dates back nearly 150 years now with a town that was founded in 1877 after gold was discovered on the Mimbres Mountains along Percha Creek.

Gold was discovered by two prospectors, Dan Dugan and Dave Stitzel. The two prospectors stumbled upon some ore that Dugan thought they were worthless. Stitzel didnít agree with him and went ahead and brought samples to an assay office who confirmed they were extremely valuable; over $160 per ton.

With this new discovery, the men quickly filed claims in the area and news quickly began to spread that there was new strike in New Mexico. A new mining community was born.

Local Indian tribes were a serious problem during the early years in Hillsboro, and many prospectors were killed when they traveled here.

But the lure of gold is strong, and the pressure from Indians was not enough to deter the strong willed. Within a few seasons there were thousands of prospectors hoping to strike it rich in the area surrounding Hillsboro.

The earliest discoveries were on Percha Creek near the present day town of Hillsboro, but quickly more locations were found that contained rich silver, gold, and copper deposits. Most of the richest ground was found to the northwest of town, toward Copper Peak and Empire Peak.

Placer gold deposits were mined in Percha Creek, Ready Pay Gulch, Wicks Gulch, Warm Springs Canyon, and Grayback Arroyo. Good gold could be recovered from many of the feeder gulches that drained them, and many lodes were discovered by miners who traced them back to their source.

Ores from hard rock deposits were crushed using arrastras and later stamp mills to release the gold from the rock.

Copper was another major discovery that was made near Hillsboro. The Copper Flat Project was the largest mine in the area. In 1892, the first copper smelter came into existence, and copper and other metals mining in small scale continued until 1941. The mine is located about 4 miles northeast of Hillsboro near Animas Peak.

Also Read:

Gold Prospecting in New Mexico eBook

Gold Prospecting in Arizona eBook

As with most mining towns, Hillsboro experienced a slow down as the richest ground were mined out, and in 1938 it lost its status as county seat of New Mexico. The old county courthouse that was built in 1892 still remains there today.

Hillsboro today is a small town with a few hundred residents. Not a true ghost town, it just a relic of what it one was during the height of mining activity.