Saturday, February 16, 2008

Montezuma Mining District - Colorado

I was researching some information about the Montezuma Mining District in the spectacular central Colorado Rocky Mountains and came up with some interesting information. The mining and the mineral industry caused a boom that led to the formation of the state of Colorado.

The Montezuma Quadrangle covers an area of approximately 230 square miles, according to T. S. Lovering, USGS Professional Paper #178, published in 1935. The mineralized zone in the area generally trends from the northeast to the southwest and was formed during the Laramide revolution during the Eocene period. This quadrangle borders the Front Range uplift on the east and the Williams Range thrust fault to the west.

The metamorphic rocks are intruded by the Pre-Cambrian granites and the Tertiary porphories. The mineralization generally occurs in these porphory zones. Lovering found 103 minerals known to occur in the quadrangle. Major minerals include galena, native silver, sphalerite, pyrite and quartz.

The first silver ore discovered in Colorado was discovered on Glacier Mountain early in 1864. In 1865, the first rush of prospectors came into the Montezuma Quadrangle area. The first settlement of the Town of Montezuma was in 1865. The town was incorporated in 1881 and is one of the oldest towns in Colorado.

The silver rush into the Montezuma Quadrangle produced many mines. Most were very small with many producing 5 tons of ore or less. Some, however, produced in excess of 100,000 tons.

Lovering lists approximately 85 vein systems in the quadrangle. Each of these veins had many small prospect holes and discovery claims staked. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of small prospects just in the Peru Creek and Warden Gulch areas of the quadrangle.

The amazing thing is that this history is just one hour west of Denver along Interstate 70. It is near some of Colorado's most famous ski areas like Keystone, Breckenridge and Vail.

For more information about the history of this faboulous mining area, visit my website, My book entitled The Orphan Boy, A Love Affair with Mining gives more background about the Montezuma Mining District and tells the story of one of these mines that was reopened by the author's Dad after World War II.