|Information Entries for Handies Peak and Mining|
Mining (Handies Peak)
Title: A minor mining story (no pun intended)
Entered by: WSC_Geologist12
Added: 06/09/2010, Last Updated: 06/09/2010
Sources: Roach, Gerry, 1999, "Colorado's Fourteeners" 2nd ed. Haag, James, 2009, "Field Notes" Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety. Smith, Duane, 2009, "The Trail of Gold and Silver: Mining in Colorado 1880's - 2009".
Mining Near Handies Peak!
Have you ever seen the little "y" symbols in your hiking or 14er guidebooks and wondered what that meant?
Have you ever had questions like "Why are there so many x's near Engineer Pass" or "Why would anybody mine on top of Mt.Bross?"
These are symbols relating to the mined land that makes up much of the Colorado high country, which has a spectacular history behind the piles of rock that dot our hillsides.
Many people believe that mining has destroyed our landscape, decimated our image, and ruined our hopes for clean water. However, mining all depends on your perception. Personally, I believe that a mine (which in most cases is a pile of colorful rocks next to a hole)is beauty in itself, and it shows the desperation and hard work by the miners, levels of committment you do not see today. Committment is what brought the miners through the overpriced toll roads in the upper Animas Watershed to the Silverton area and eventually over Cinammon Pass.
What does this have to do with Handies Peak? Well if you climb Handies using the Grizzly Gulch approach, then you wont understand what I am discussing until you get to the top and you can see down into American Basin. However if you climb from the American Basin side, you see remnants of mining from before the trailhead until Sloan Lake. If you refer to Gerry Roach's book "Colorado Fourteeners" page 234. You can see the mines on the map, which he pulled from the USGS library. Some of these mines are not really noticeable unless you have a good eye for hard rock mining, but they are there. The deposits in American Basin are the only reason Cinammon Pass exists. Miners would take their ore over Cinammon Pass from American Basin and have it milled at Animas Forks. And you thought taking your Tacoma up Cinammon was hardcore (well it still is).
From the standpoint of a geologist, these minerals are ultimately related to the volcanic activity that plagued the San Juans cerca 30 million years ago. There are a serious of 13 "calderas" which are collapsed volcanos in the San Juan Area, and the Handies Peak mineral deposit is associated with the same mineralization as Silverton and the Silverton Caldera. It is different then that of the Henson Creek drainage, and even different from that of the minerals near Lake San Cristobal.
This was my first mining report on mining in the San Juans, hopefully more to come! Thank you