Durango Telegraph - Extractions from Colorado Gold-mining history
Extractions from Colorado Gold-mining history

Gold was discovered in Colorado in 1859, when a group of prospectors from Georgia discovered the precious metal in the waters of Cherry Creek, near what is now downtown Denver. About a year later, the Rockies' first motherlode was hit in the mountains between what are now Blackhawk and Central City - and the rush was on.

The La Plata District is at the southwest end of what is known as the Colorado Mineral Belt. In 1873, gold was discovered in the La Platas, soon followed by silver, base metals and even platinum.

Over the course of the next 100 years, Colorado produced some 40 million ounces of gold worth an estimated $1 billion. However, the market eventually went flat, forcing several mines to cease operation. Soaring gold prices in the 1980s led to a mini boom, as they reached an all-time high of $850 an ounce. The industry is once again experiencing a mini boom, as global turmoil and the weakening dollar has forced gold prices to a 26-year high of $700 on May 12. Since then, prices have dropped slightly, but are still hovering in the $650/ounce range.

The most prolific gold operation in the state is the Cresson Mine, operated by the Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Co., west of Colorado Springs. In 2004, the mine, which has come under fire recently for its use of the controversial cyanide-leach process, celebrated a milestone: the pouring of its 2 millionth ounce of gold.

– Missy Votel

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