Mines of the Argo
Central City, Colorado

Prize Mine

Prize Mine

The word “PRIZE” sits atop Nevadaville, just out of reach, marking the end of the Argo Tunnel and of bygone days.

Mining began here after an 1862 strike, making it one of the older mines in the county. The Prize Vein intersects the Seuderberg Mine workings, which threw the mines into litigation until a new company was formed to consolidate them. While the Seuderberg Mine has been reduced to a yellow pile of tailings, it is connected to the Prize on several levels.

Map of the Prize Mine Workings in 1917. From USGS.

Prize’s owners, the Shafer brothers of New York, pushed to modernize the mine in the 1910s. In 1915 the workings were partly electrified and in 1917 it connected to the Argo Tunnel, the first in Gilpin county to do so. Prize was one of the most profitable mines in the area, and in some years its gold output accounted for half of the county’s total. By 1900, it had produced $3 million in gold shipments—that would be something like $75 million today! Unfortunately, after many upgrades in 1928 and 1929, the Shafers were caught in the stock market crash, permanently closing the mine before it could reap the benefits of modernization.

Miners at the turn of the century had better taste in typography than the average person does today.

Then and Now: Prize Shaft House

Today, Prize consists of a shaft house with a small office area, a hoisting house, an outhouse, and a powder storage vault. Nearby are the remnants of three houses along Prize Street, which used to connected to Nevadaville. The row has the nickname ‘Dogtown’, and by some accounts it got that name because it was as one time taken over by wild dogs. This is (thankfully) not the case anymore. The houses are mostly stripped inside except for their wallpaper and large appliances.

Gallery: Prize Mine

Gallery: Dogtown