On-The-Rocks Field Trip: Sept. 21, 2002

Title: On-The-Rocks Field Trip: Gold in the Rocks – A Trek Back in Time

Trip Leaders: Beth Simmons, Metropolitan State College of Denver; David Mosch, Edgar Mine Manager, Colorado School of Mines; Al Mosch, Mosch Mining Company, The Phoenix Mine, Idaho Springs, Colorado

Date: September 21, 2002

Publication: The Outcrop, August 2002, p. 11, 13

While traveling west on 1-70 to go skiing or to recreation in the mountains, driving fast and smooth up through the hogback, Mount Vernon Canyon, over Floyd Hill, along Clear Creek, and through Idaho Springs, one’s thoughts are occupied by traffic or the final destination. Occasionally and almost unconsciously, something along the route will grab your interest and you might say, “That looks interesting; I should find out more about that.” Those thoughts pass quickly and you never follow up. Are you guilty of this behavior? The “Gold in the Rocks — A Trek Back in Time” field trip will provide an exciting opportunity to learn about the geology and mining history that you normally zoom past in your car.

A detailed trip guide with photos, history, mine maps, and a summary of the geology between the Cold Spring RTD Park & Ride and the town site of Lamartine (above Idaho Springs) has been developed by one of the trip leaders, Beth Simmons, as part of her PhD requirements at Metro State. The trip will commence from the east flank of Green mountain, labeled “Cemetery Mountain” by Burt and Berthoud on their map of 1861. The mountain is capped by the Green Mountain Conglomerate, Eocene gravel deposited by ancestral Clear Creek long before the present topography developed. The trip will continue on 1-70 up Mount Vernon Canyon, to Idaho Springs (the canyon is named for small town that existed at its base which had a population of about 200 in 1861).

Stop 1: Idaho Springs Visitor’s Center. View the Argo Tunnel and discuss the history of Idaho Springs, beginning with the first discovery of placer gold in the Colorado mountains. The discovery was made by George Jackson in 1859 at the junction of Chicago and Clear Creeks.

Stop 2: The Edgar Mine (Colorado School of Mines Experimental Mine.) An up-close look at unit operations, underground mapping, ground support, drills, and a discussion of the evolution of drilling, mucking, and blasting.

Stop 3: The Stanley Mine and Lincoln Group. The Lincoln vein contains uranium; during the 1950s, this mine was operated as a “health resort.” For $5, the visitor could sit in the mine tunnel and soak in the faddish “all-healing Radon Gas, beneficial for arthritis and allied ailments.”

Stop 4: The Phoenix Mine. Tour the Phoenix Mine; hear the history of the mine and the Freeland-Lamartine District as told by Al Mosch, third generation miner and master story-teller.

Stop 5: New Era Shaft. The town of Freeland and the founding of the Freeland-Lamartine District and its notable mines will be discussed.

Stop 6. Lamartine Mine Tunnel. The largest producer in the district was a blind ore shoot. The claims were located in the 1860s on minor surface mineralization. The top of the ore body was finally encountered at a depth of 100 feet in 1888.

Stops 7 & 8: The Lamartine Shaft and the town site of Lamartine. Founded in 1887 and located west of the collar of the shaft at an elevation of 10,610′, the town of Lamartine flourished through the 1890s; 100 miners still lived here in 1901. It boasted both a post office and a school until 1910. The view of Mt. Evans to the south provided the “most spectacular vista of any school in the county.”

The trip will leave the Cold Spring RTD Park & Ride, 6th Avenue and Union Blvd, Saturday September 21, 2002 at 7:00 am. Please bring $9.00 per person (discounted price) if you wish to go underground at the Phoenix Mine. High-clearance four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended beyond Stop 4 at the Phoenix Mine; car-pooling is strongly encouraged. The trip will end at the Lamartine town site. Wear appropriate clothing (elevations over 10,000 feet), bring a lunch and water. We will return to Cold Spring at approximately 5:00 pm. We are soliciting sponsors to pay for printing of the 180+ page illustrated trip guide. Alternatively, the trip guide may be available as a CD-ROM. For field trip reservations contact Fred Mark, e-mail (preferred): fmark@csd.net, or 303.674.1682.