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Gunnison County Colorado Gold Production

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Posted February 15, 2007 in Gold Mining

By A. H. KOSCHMANN and M. H. BERGENDAHL - USGS 1968

Click here for the Principle Gold Producing Districts of the United States Index

Gunnison County, in west-central Colorado west of the Continental Divide, produced about 130,000 ounces of gold through 1959. Although the first ore discoveries were placer deposits, most of the gold produced in the county has been a byproduct of silver-lead ore.

Ore was first discovered in 1861 when placer gold was discovered simultaneously along Taylor River in the Tincup district and in Washington Gulch in the northern part of Gunnison County (Henderson, 1926, p. 44, 124). By 1867 placer deposits had been discovered along other gulches. Lode deposits also were known, but little work was done on them until 1872 when silver-bearing rock was discovered in the Elk Mountains. In 1878 discoveries were made in the Gold Brick-Quartz Creek district (Henderson, 1926, p. 125), and the years 1879 and 1880 saw the first rush of miners to southeastern Gunnison County. Several towns, including Ohio City and Pitkin, were founded between 1878 and 1882. In the fall of 1881 the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad was completed to Gunnison and later to Crested Butte. During the next 4 to 5 years, ore was discovered over a wide area, and several smelters and concentrating mills were built. The most productive years for gold mining were between 1908 and 1913. The period 1934 through 1942 was one of increased activity, but from 1943 through 1959 most of the mines were closed.

The Gold Brick-Quartz Creek district has been the leading gold producer of the county, and the Tincup district is the only other district that has yielded more than 10,000 ounces.


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