Monday, July 5, 2021

Creede, Colorado

By Kristy McCaffrey

Located in the San Juan Mountains, the Creede mining district sits in the southern part of Colorado. The San Juans are sometimes called the “Alps” of America, with high rugged peaks separated by deep valleys. The landscape is filled with forests of spruce, pine, fir, and aspen, open meadows filled with wildflowers, rushing mountain streams, and sparkling lakes. The area is also rich with valuable metals—gold, silver, copper, lead, and zinc.

 San Juan Mountains

Early prospecting in the 1870’s revealed silver-bearing ore, leading to a major discovery in 1889 by Nicholas C. Creede. In August 1889, Creede and his partners—E.R. Naylor and G.L. Smith—were prospecting on Campbell Mountain when they located the Holy Moses claim. The Creede mining boom began in the fall of 1890 when word spread that the Holy Moses had been sold for $70,000 to Denver investors. Hundreds of prospectors descended on Campbell Mountain, as well as nearby Bachelor Mountain, where the Amethyst Vein was discovered, becoming Creede District’s most productive lode.

 Nicholas Creede

During Creede’s early years, the area was often referred to as ‘No Man’s Land’ because parts of the camp were located in Saguache, Hinsdale, and Rio Grande counties. Due to this confusion, it was necessary to file mining, homestead, and lot claims in all three counties. And although each county fought to gain control of the potential riches of Creede, none would assume jurisdiction or provide police protection. The issue was resolved by an act of the Colorado legislature in March 1893 when the County of Mineral was formed from parts of each of the three counties, and a provisional city government was organized.

As prospectors staked out their claims in the early 1890’s, there were many cases of claim jumping, overlapping boundary lines, and moving of boundary stakes. The result was litigation that often led to the suspension of activities until the cases could be resolved in the courts. The case between the Last Chance Mining and Milling Company and the Del Monte Mining Company went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, delaying production from these mines for several years.

From 1891 to 1899, mines on the Amethyst Vein had the greatest economic impact on the Creede District, with most of the production coming from high-grade oxidized ores in the southern portion. (Oxidized ores are preferable since they can be shipped directly to smelters without further processing.) The majority of the value was silver. In 1892, the total estimated output of mines in the Creede District was $4,215,800, for which the Amethyst Mine accounted for over half.

In 1893, a silver panic dealt a devastating blow to the Creede economy. U.S. President Grover Cleveland sought to solve an economic crisis by repealing the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which had been passed in 1890 in response to a large overproduction of silver by western mines. It required the U.S. Treasury to purchase silver using notes backed by either silver or gold. This legislation was critical for Creede and other silver mining towns because it had stabilized silver prices.

While the panic of 1893 didn’t completely shut down silver mining in Creede, it did seriously decrease production. The dollar value of silver produced in 1894 was only 31 percent of the 1893 number, but by 1898-1899 it had rebounded to approximately 60 percent of the 1893 figure.

Creede’s notoriety includes many incidents, the most famous being the murder of Bob Ford, the killer of Jesse James. Ed O’Kelley walked into Ford’s makeshift tent-saloon in Creede and shot him dead as a result of a quarrel over a gambling debt on June 8, 1892.

Today, Creede is known for outdoor pursuits such as hiking, fishing, rafting and mountain biking, as well as cross-country skiing in the winter.

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Don't miss THE BLUEBIRD, set in historic Creede.

Molly Rose Simms departs the Arizona Territory, eager for adventure, and travels to Colorado to visit her brother. Robert left two years ago to make his fortune in the booming silver town of Creede, and now Molly Rose hopes to convince him to accompany her to San Francisco, New York City, or even Europe. But Robert is nowhere to be found. All Molly Rose finds is his partner, a mysterious man known as The Jackal. 

Jake McKenna has traveled the bustling streets of Istanbul, exotic ports in China, and the deserts of Morocco. His restless desire to explore has been the only constant in his life. When his search for the elusive and mythical Bluebird mining claim lands him a new partner, he must decide how far he’ll go to protect the stunning young woman who’s clearly in over her head. A home and hearth has never been on The Jackal’s agenda, but Molly Rose Simms is about to change his world in every conceivable way. 

A sensuous historical western romance set in 1892 Colorado. 

“The reader will find themselves often sitting on the edge of their seats…a quick and exciting read!” ~ Belinda Wilson, InD’tale Magazine 

“...a fast paced read with a depth to the characters and the story that kept my interest from the first page to the last...” ~ Jo, Romance Junkies

Click here to learn more at Kristy's website.

1 comment:

Julie Lence said...

I have to take a day trip there sometime. Colorado's old mining towns are so much fun to explore.