I hope that you enjoyed the stories that I dug up about Treasure Mountain. If you have stories about your time in Animas Forks, Eureka, or have tips for what I should see next time I am in the San Juans, feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.
These rails used to connect to those inside the Santiago Tunnel. Now they dangle above tailings.
The purpose of the concentrator was to separate the gold and silver-rich ore from the waste rock. You can tell from the design that the process relies heavily on gravity.
The big door at the bottom of the concentrator was where a tram once connected to lower the (pre-) processed ore into the river valley, where the railroad was. It’s unclear whether this ever connected directly to Eureka’s Sunnyside mill, although it’s possible.
Kate stands on top of the tailings pile that added some usable land to the side of the gulch. Somewhere nearby is the buried Santiago Tunnel.
Looking into the mouth of the hopper which mine carts dumped into at the top of the Concentrator.
A creek has cut through the middle of the mine property, washing away the loose rock and eroding the foundations of the Concentrator. It’s pretty, though! It’s be belief, though I cannot prove it, that some of the water here originates from inside the now-buried Santiago Tunnel, which is no doubt flooded to a great extent.
It seems logical that, at one time, a rock crusher was installed at the base of the mine rails shown here at the top of the Concentrator. Rocks small enough to fit between the rails would automatically bypass the crusher and continue to the work floor via the hopper below.
This building had the rusty remains of a few mattresses, likely used in the 1940s when this site was last occupied.
The main buildings were mostly interconnected and in good condition. The dry air helps to preserve the wooden structures.
I was surprised to see the roof was in such great condition. You can tell by the making on the wood that this wall is covered by a snow bank for most of the year.
I’m not sure, actually, whether this was an outhouse (right), but it seems likely. In any case, it was connected by a covered staircase to the Bunk House (left). The soil here was not all tailings, so there is a bit of thick grass–almost the only in sight!
The doorframes become more askew every year as the buildings slip downward into the gulch at different rates. This seems to be the part of the mine ruins where transients leave their marks. The graffiti dated back to the 1970s, at least.
One of my favorite images from my stay… Note the snowed-over road in the distance! This is looking toward Animas Forks.
At Treasure Mountain mine. This collapsed building was likely the 1937 Compressor House, which pushed compressed air and water into the Sanitago Tunnel in the time it was producing.
It’s unclear where this walkway once connected. Perhaps there used to be a building here that covered the entrance to the Santiago Tunnel…
Looking through the open windows of the Bunk House toward what I think is the outhouse for the miners. There’s a big bench in the middle of the bunk house that was used as dinner table.
From the door where mine carts were dumped into the Concentrator, the erosion around the former Santiago Tunnel on Treasure Mountain is obvious. The rails barely connect to the ground anymore.
I made this picture to give the reader a sense of the slope between the mine buildings and the base of the concentrator. The whole area was really steep, and sometimes required scrambling to get up and down the Picayune Gulch for short distances.
The Blacksmith Shop (right) was connected to the Bunk House (left) via this narrow walkway. This is likely due to the fire risk in each building. The left building had a cooking stove and furnace for heat and the right building had a small industrial furnace to repair mining equipment. A little walkway would mean that a fire on one side would be easier to fight from the other.
The blacksmith shop is pretty rugged looking. Through the door you can see the collapsed walkway that might have once connected to a building covering the Santiago Tunnel adit.
The Bunk House was not just for sleeping, but it was for eating and recreation too. In one corner, near the door to the Blacksmith Shop (left) is this terrific stove, probably original (circa 1937).
The Gold Prince is dead, but its ruins show how over-engineered it once was. Although its foundations were concrete, seen here, the rest of the mill was steel. All of its steel and equipment was removed to fix the Sunnyside Mill in Eureka.
Some of the workings inside the ruins of the Gold Prince Mill are still obvious, such as this steel ore chute over that used to feed a floatation tank.
Looking through the hole where a glass pane once was at the Columbus Mine ruins, just south of Animas Forks. It was quiet when I took the picture, but for the gurgle of the nearby Animas River.
William Duncan built this house for his family in 1879. It has become one of the most popular structures in the ghost town of Animas Forks.
The Duncan House overlooks the Columbus Mill (left) and the Gold Prince Mill ruins (not picture, but to the right). Note the Columbus Mine itself above the mill.
Inside the circa-1906 Gustavson House of Animas Forks. I love the texture of the walls in all of the buildings inside of the old miner’s houses.
The Columbus Mine overlooks its mill, which was one of the last to operate in the region, thanks to the demand for industrial metals during World War II.
Taken around 11,600 feet.
Looking out of one of the biggest houses in Animas Forks toward the rest of the residential district. It is hard to imagine the life the people here lived, for those that stayed the winter.
These houses was built by hard rock miners in the early 1900s.
The porch of the Gustavson House with the southern San Juan range in the background. Bring your own rocking chair…
I’ve been in a lot of different mines. Some on tours, some not. If you pass through Howardsville, Colorado without going on the Old Hundred Mine Tour, you’re missing out. This is what Santiago Tunnel looked like in the 1940s when it was near the end of its life.
Above Treasure Mountain Mine is the capped shaft of the defunct San Juan Queen Mine. This is taken near that location, looking down the road that connects the mines to Animas Forks.
This ruin was once the Toltec Mine, a producing gold and silver claim that operated into the 1940s.
Near Howardsville, Colorado, the Animas River gets quite wide. This is near the Little Nation Mill, which is worth a stop if you’re traveling north from SIlverton. It’s also near the former Gold King Mine, which “blew” in 2015 and flooded the Animas River with toxic mine water.
The Eureka Mill, historically known as Sunnyside Mill, is now the gateway to Animas Forks.
The Sunnyside Mill, excepting the stained rebar, seems like part of the mountain.
Taken as I drove out of Silverton, CO. One of my favorite landscapes of 2015. Want a print? Email me!
The aerial tram at the Mayflower Mill gives a sense of what the Gold Prince Mill in Animas Forks once looked like. Trams connected the mill to the mines around it without the need to negotiate trees, rivers, and rough terrain.
A tram that once linked the Sunnyside Mine to the mill in Eureka has been reduced to a single cable. Nearby, an open adit drips water into a tributary of the Animas River.