Capital Prize Gold Mine

Georgetown, Colorado | C.1860

Photo Credit: Eric Petka

While the U.S. was on the brink of the Civil War, George and David Griffith were on the edge of a much more advantageous discovery. In 1859, the Griffiths discovered gold in Colorado’s Georgetown valley and within a year, established the Griffith mining district. Over a century later, the Capital Prize Gold Mine stands as a result.

Although the Griffith’s quickly discovered gold and silver, it took their operation fifty years to perfect its recovery process. In 1915, reports revealed the mine tried to build a vertical shaft. This attempt involved tunneling upwards for hundreds of feet, but a lack of proper air forced it to stop. Next, the company drilled downwards from above ground, but the drill got stuck. Finally, using an adit – a horizontal passage into the mine – the company was able to access the Aetna Vein, the region’s major source of gold and silver.

Two years later, tragedy struck. When a team of miners complained of bad air quality, miner Dick Allendar went to sound the alarm. His team was struggling at their post located 300-foot below ground level. Allendar reported that miner J.D. Iverson had been left on a ladder at the 165-foot level, but when rescue operations found him, Iverson was dead after falling from the ladder.

Several other miners would lose their lives over the years, and the last men to work in the mine left in 1969. Since 2011, visitors can tour the mine and its miles of – reportedly haunted – tunnels. At the end of one tunnel, names of miners dating back to 1911 can still be seen scrawled into the walls.

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