The quest for riches lewd to a placer mining boom on Cottonwood Creek by the mid-1860s.
Placer mining began by 1864 about 5 miles west of Buena Vista at the confluence of South and Middle Cottonwood creeks, below what was known as Harvard City.
The area was called the Westphalian District and had about 30 mines discovered in it. They found lead, iron, copper, silver, zinc but very little gold. In 1865, Andrew Bard filed the Summit Claim.
Claims were filed in 1873 on the Pacific, Atlantic+ and Startle, as well as the Mound+ and Josephine mines on Jones Mountain. (Mines marked with a “+” are patented mines.)
On Sheep Mountain there were claims filed by 1866, some of them named Monmouth, Martha Bonney and Lottie and the better known Ibex Mine in 1878.
George Nachtrieb died near the Geneva Mine+ in 1878 from consumption after discovering this mine.
An 1883 mining directory reported there were 19 mines producing ore in the Cottonwood District by 1883. Some of these mines were the Old Cashier which was worked by Wolf and Jenkins and produced silver.
In this same area were the Danube, Columbia, Little Missouri and the Independence.
The Mount Carmel mine in Porphyry Gulch, a patented mine, is privately owned today.
In 1880, the Herrick Mining Company was established by men from Harrisburg, Penn. They had a manager from Buena Vista, Henry Acker. The mines were the Herrick+ and the Kerr+.
They assayed at 40 percent lead and 25 ounces of silver. However they did not produce enough to keep them active.
Five BV men had a claim in South Cottonwood and on Yale Mountain. The pay vein was 8 percent copper, 22 percent lead and 60 ounces of silver per ton from the mines.
On Jones Mountain was the Wide-Awake mine owned by three BV men and Mrs. Charles Nachtrieb in 1882. It had a crevice 20 feet wide and a pay streak which sorted out as 100 ounces of silver.
Placer mines could be as big as 20 acres. Because gold is heavier, it is found in the creek bottom.
Even dry creek beds were mined hoping some gold was still in them.
South Cottonwood by 1892 had four producing mines. One of the busiest was owned by Asa Fox.
He started mining in the area in 1879. His best mine was the Cora Belle+, named for the wife of a friend and then his baby daughter.
His mining area was above Cottonwood Lake about one mile.
Another mine he patented was the St. Geneva.
He built up beaver ponds and made small lakes, known as Fox Lakes on Cottonwood Creek.
He built a flume and brought spring water down Fox Mountain to his property.
He used Cottonwood Creek water to run a saw mill, an ore crusher and concentrator. Asa Fox was joined by his five brothers at the Fox Lake area.
The Fox brothers filed on at least 25 claims, one of them was the Little Anna.
The mill site and the mines high on Fox Mountain were patented in 1904 and are still private property.
At one time there were eight cabins on the property for family members.
Only two of the brothers remained in the area, John and Charles, and are buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery with Asa and his daughter Cora Belle.
Asa, tall and with a long beard, worked his mines until his death at 80 in 1925 at his cabin at Fox Lake.
Joseph Determan came to the Cottonwood area in about 1894 and lived with Charles and Anna Fox in 1900.
He brought his wife from Ohio and built a cabin at the Fox Mill site.
A sister of one of the Determans, Vera, came to visit, met and married Asa Fox in 1894.
Other miners who worked the South Cottonwood area were the Closs brothers, Arthur and Charles, who had three mines, the Lucy+, Eleanor and Porcupine+ mine on Eureka Mountain near Hope Gulch.
There were many miners who worked a mine in the area which did not produce and were not patented.
Carmel Mountain in South Cottonwood had mines on it including the Nugget Nell and Mamie.
On Middle Cottonwood Creek, the Gladstone+ mine was developed with a cross-cut tunnel to 1,600 feet and the vein was 600 feet deep.
The mine was developed by E.C. Herd from Pueblo, James Byrns and E.L Baker from Alpine in 1880. It was patented in 1882.
The vein of ore was 8-18 inches of galena and sulpherets, which ran lead and silver. This produced two tons of ore per day with 30 percent lead and 80-125 ounces of silver. The Gladstone is still owned by a descendent of one of the early discoverers.
The Grand Union Mining Company of Philadelphia in 1880 had the lodes Monroe, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Curtin.
They had quartz and galena and shafts from 70-125 feet. They were very low producers even though they had tunnels and shafts 70-100 feet deep.
The Lottie and Martha Benny mines after 1883 produced ore that milled 40 ounces of silver and lead per ton.
It was considered a big shipper.
Three BV men had a company called Gospel and Montank on the Middle Cottonwood that produced 50-500 ounces of silver from a 125-foot tunnel.
North Cottonwood mines were not as numerous as South Cottonwood.
The Easter, located in 1882, had a short shaft of 15 feet and a short life.
The Hidden Treasure Mining and Milling Co. Inc., 1882, by A. S. Austin from Wichita, Kan. was managed by A.H. Waite from BV.
There were two mines, the Hidden Treasure and the Comstock, which assayed 2 ounces of gold and 100 ounces of silver. It was 12 miles from Buena Vista.
The Steel Galena owned by BV men was an open cut mine with a 3-foot crevice with quartz and galena, with brittles and native silver and gray copper assaying at 800 ounces per ton.
Other mines with short lives were the Queen Elizabeth, the Eclipse, the Homestake, the Hiawatha and the Silver Creek.
Many miners sold their mines for a profit as soon as investors could be convinced that it was a profitable mine.
From 1873 until 1900, almost 400 claims were filed in the area.
The assay reports were not always accurate and were exaggerated to impress investors.
A mine claim had to be marked with the name of the mine and the owners and the date.
The corners had to be marked with a tree blaze, a pile of rocks or stakes and a location certificate filed within the first three months of discovery.
These rules came from the Mining Law of 1872.
A mining claim which proved productive could be patented by the miner.
The miner had to file an application with the surveyor’s notes and the plat and pay a fee of $5 per acre.
He published notice of his intent to mine and had to do $500 dollars worth of improvements on the mine.
These mines are just some of the ones I have found information on, and there are many more, some that were discovered later.
The information on the Fox brothers and their mine is from the book “South Cottonwood Chronicles” by Lucy Mathews, available at the Buena Vista Heritage Museum.