Cripple Creek's Gold Placers (Part 1)

(Old mine workings near Cripple Creek.)

One of the Most Famous Hard-Rock Districts

Colorado is noted for extensive hard-rock or lode silver and gold production, but its reputation for gold placers falls somewhat short of the mark. This fact is driven home with even greater emphasis when the "Centennial State's" placer production is compared to other Western states like California.

Carhartt Wear

Be that as it may however, one of the most famous hard-rock gold districts of the entire western U.S., Cripple Creek, holds a bounty of fine placer gold that many small-scale miners have neglected over the years. One reason for this is that many miners assumed that the refractory, telluride-type gold ores of the Cripple Creek District were not conducive to placer gold formation. They were both right and wrong in this assumption.

Large Amounts of Very Fine Gold

Although tellurides are not typically noted for lots of free-milling gold like many sulphide quartz ores, they can still contain reasonable amounts of very fine gold particles that can be released through weathering, erosion, and compositional breakdown. Such is the case in the immediate vicinity of Cripple Creek and two smaller communities to the southeast, Victor and Goldfield.

(Magnification of Cripple Creek gold ore loaded with fine gold.)

Many of the gold-bearing drainages and gulches in this area can be found below historic lode mines such as the Stratton, Morning Glory, Gold Dollar, Ajax, Pharmacist, Lost Dollar, Victor, Cresson, Anaconda, Portland, and others too numerous to name. Large amounts of very fine, often crystalline, placer gold is said to be scattered throughout this region.

Here's My Take

This latter fact is what tells the tale at Cripple Creek and nearby areas. If you're used to recovering coarse placer gold or nuggets, the idea of working your butt off to recover fine gold isn't always appealing. Am I right?

Placer Gold Locations

OK, that said, here's my take on this...I'd rather pull a troy ounce of fine gold any day than a 1/4-ounce nugget. For me, it's not about mounting that 1/4 ouncer on a gold chain and wearing it around my neck to impress's about getting the gold and lots of it. Oh, and no matter how hard I have to work, enjoying the hell out of myself while doing it.

There it is, brothers and a nutshell.

I'll have more on Cripple Creek's gold placers in my next post. Until then, stay safe and sane.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Gold, Platinum, and Diamonds: Whitecourt's 'Triple Treat'"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2012

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