Unlike a lot of other states, it seems like Colorado does a good job of embracing its mining past and encouraging people to learn about this important part of American history. The truth is that mining may have had a bigger transformation than any other event in this country. It brought thousands of men from around the globe to the West.
One of Colorado’s major gold rushes was in an area just a short distance west of Denver. The peak of mining activity eventually made it to the town of Central City
, which became the epicenter of the states gold and silver mining during the 1860s.
Many gold rush towns were “boom and bust,” and would only last for a few years before everyone moved on. Central City was different; the ores were so extensive that mining lasted for decades. Many of the ores were extremely high-grade.
The Hidee Mine History
There were many mines in Central City, and one of the smaller mines was the Hidee Gold Mine. This was certainly not the biggest or richest mine, but it still has a rich history that date back to the late 1890s.
Early miners extracted ores that contained copper, silver and gold. Mining was hard in the early days. Men would use picks and chisels to chip away at the auriferous veins as they worked their way into the mountainside. It was slow-going, but the ores payed well and mining continued.
Mining continued on and off for several decades. In later years, power was available in the mine and jackhammers chiseled away at the ore bodies. This was rough and dirty work. Miners died from silica in their lungs at an alarming rate. Men worked hard and died early.
Childen worked in the mines as well. In the early days there were no laws regulating child labor, and boys as young as 6 were put to work in the mines right alongside the men.
Take a Tour
This is just a glimpse at the early history of the Hidee Gold Mine, which is now open for tours to the public. While the mine is permitted as an active mine, today it makes its money taking visitors underground rather than from the extraction of gold and silver.
The tour guide are knowledgable and offer great insight into the early life as a miner in Colorado. I have been on quite a few underground mine tours throughout the West, and I would rank this one near the top. I really enjoyed it.
When you go, you will get the chance to walk straight into a tunnel that goes 600 feet into the mountainside. As you go deeper into the tunnel, a tour guide will teach you about the mining process, the dangers of mining in such difficult conditions, and the geology that made this such a rich mine.
At the end of the tour, you will come to a beautiful gold-bearing pyrite vein and you will get a chance to do a little digging yourself! You can hammer the walls and break some gold ore loose for your personal collection. It’s a really neat experience for kids and adults alike.Next:Book a Tour at the MineMining in Idaho Springs, ColoradoThe Pike's Peak Gold RushA Guide to Prospecting in Colorado eBook