Mines of the Argo
Central City, Colorado

Gunnell, Grand Army, and Whiting Mines

Gunnell, Grand Army, and Whiting Mines

The Gunnell Lode was struck on May 25th, 1859, and it would prove to be the second-longest gold vein in the area, after Mammoth.

Mines on Gunnell Hill, 1900s.
Argo Tunnel meets Gunnell Mine. From Denver Post, June 29, 1910.

The hill above the vein, Gunnell Hill, was home to three major mines that popped up in the mid-1870s, Gunnell, Grand Army, and Concrete, all of which were rich producers early on. Like other nearby groups of mines, their workings were interconnected: Gunnell connected to Slaughter House Mine, a minor producer, at around 700 feet and Concrete connected to Golden Treasure, major producer, at around 800.

Gunnell Mine. From Gilpin Tram historian Mark Baldwin. See http://gilpintram.com/

Workings as intricate Gunnell Hill’s often had separate shafts driven just for the water pumps to pull water to the surface, but in 1904 its pump building caught fire, causing the 25,000 feet of mining tunnels to quickly flood. The mines were abandoned until 1910 when the Argo Tunnel connected with the shafts and drained them into Idaho Springs. Though these mines were link to the Argo Mill, they seem to have opted to use the Mead Mill in Black Hawk, at least until the Gilpin Tram stopped operating.

Gunnell Mine was one of the most productive mines in the district, producing 74,000 ounces of gold (that’s about 1.4 tons, or $57 million worth, as I write this). It operated from the 1970s almost continuously through 1919 and reopened in 1938 for a short exploration, but the effort was soon, like the mine, abandoned for good. In 1899, most of the nearby mines were consolidated and worked together in what became the Gunnell Hill Mining Company.

Birch shadows on stone walls… have you been looking at my Christmas list?

Today, the Gunnell is a remarkable ruin with a partial steel roof and numerous stone walls. Not far from the stone walls, however, is the open mine shaft with all the area around it sloping into it, a real death trap. Stay away!

Gallery: Gunnell Mine

An unshielded headframe and single pulley.

Grand Army Mine struck a rich vein early that seemed to develop in the direction of Concrete Mine. When the managers of Concrete heard the gossip, they began working in that direction, not knowing that the Grand Army Miners had trespassed into their claim about 700 feet below the surface—the ore was already hauled out of the Grand Army Shaft. The trespassers did everything they could think of to slow the discovery of the crime, including trying to collapse the tunnels using dynamite and turning away their stubborn competition with sulphur stink bombs, but eventually the details were clear. In the following law suits, the courts awarded the right to mine Grand Army to Concrete, which proved a lasting solution.

Grand Army, as seen from a Gilman Tram grade.

This mine’s ruins stick out today because its wooden head frame stands dramatically naked on the slopes of Gunnell Hill, overlooking Gold Collar Mine. Somewhere in the wooden wreckage is a mine shaft, so stay out of the building itself, if you make the hike.

Gallery: Grand Army Mine

Whiting Mine was the smallest of the Gunnell Hill group and by its remains it seems like a small stone house. Its shaft house was abandoned by in the early 1900s, though its workings were certainly connected to nearby Gunnell Mine. Now it is mostly known as just another stop of the long gone Gilman Tram.