This report originally aired on Colorado Getaways in 2010. It was featured again on Colorado Getaways on June 4, 2011.
CENTRAL CITY, Colo. (CBS4) – Just over the hill from the Colorado mountain towns of Central City and Black Hawk is a place called Russell Gulch where abandoned mine workings from the 1890s evoke golden boom days from the fictional town of Hidee Village.
The Hidee Vein is just one of many mined areas that produced gold in what has been called the “Richest Square Mile on Earth.”
Ed Lewandowski and his crew run underground tours, teaching visitors about the “pyritic gold” found there. He says don’t be fooled by the “fool’s gold.”
“Everyplace else — Cripple Creek, Durango, Leadville — the pyrite is separate, but here its chemically bonded, so this is where they actually mine so much of the pyritic gold,” explains Lewandowski. “Every piece of pyrite has a heart of gold we say here. So if you see a piece of pyrite on the ground in this area, just in this area, you know its gold bearing.”
During a visit by Colorado Getaways, Mark Greaves and Chris Stone were leading tours 700 feet back into the mountain.
“The temperature actually never changes,” said Stone. “Summer. Winter. It doesn’t matter what it is outside, it’s 42 degrees in here.”
“It was actually built about 100 years ago by Cornish miners,” explains Greaves. “So they were mostly about 5-foot-2 so they built it just tall enough for them. Also tall enough for a mule to get in and haul off the ore carts.”
“Not only were the mines small, the miners were tough,” says Stone. “I mean they wintered up here. They worked these things year-round.”
When they started mining in Colorado in the 1860s or so miners worked by candlelight. Miners found rock with high concentrations of gold in the top layer, making it easy to get at.
“It’s stained red from where the iron’s already rusted away breaking the iron-sulfide bond, destroying the fool’s gold leaving the real gold behind.”
The layer below, the gold is harder to extract.
Every visitor to the Hidee Mine gets their own chance at striking gold.
“When you see the fresh face of gold,” says Lewandowski. “It’s just beautiful, just absolutely beautiful.”
Make a reservation for a tour of the mine by calling (720) 548-0343. Log on to hideegoldmine.com.