Chaffee County Colorado
Chaffee County Borders the Continental Divide near central Colorado. Chaffee County produced 370,000 gold ounces, largely from lode mines but with small amounts from placers and base metal mines. The main area of interest is in the gravel bars and benches along the Arkansas River from Buena Vista southeast 25 miles to the Fremont County line and near Granite, which is close to the county line 15 miles northwest of Salida. There are many placers. Lost Canyon Gulch, Chalk Creek, Cottonwood Creek, Pine Creek, Bertscheys Gulch, Cold Run Gulch, Gilson Gulch, Oregon Gulch, and Ritchey's Patch's rich history and all had great placer workings. In addition, many small mines throughout the county produced lode and by-product gold.
Southeast 5 miles of Buena Vista, the area mines produced lode gold at Free Gold on Trout Creek. East, to Riverside, 6 miles off U.S. 24, the last 2 miles are difficult, altitude, 12,000-13,000 feet, area copper-lead-silver mines produced a by-product of gold. Northeast 13 miles, just South of Trout Creek Pass, area mines produced lode gold. West 14 miles, near headwaters of Cottonwood Creek, small mines produced lode gold. The Chalk Creek district is in the west part of the county near the headwaters of Chalk Creek, 16 miles northwest of Nathrop. It had a total production of 250,000 ounces of by-product gold. Some 20 area mines in T15S R80 and 81E, but chiefly the Mary Murphy Mine was the largest producer, with 220,400 ounces of by-product gold. The area creek gravels have minor placer deposits.
The Monarch district is near Garfield at an elevation of 10,000-10,500 feet. The total production was between 15,000-20,000 ounces of by-product gold. The area mines in T49 and 50N, R6E, on old dumps there are gold showings. The Madonna Mine was a major producer of lode gold.
South of Granite 3 miles along Clear Creek, the area mines produced lode gold. 4 to 10 miles farther southwest, there were numerous placers. West of Granite 15 miles, on Clear Creek, at Winfield (La Plata), elevation 9,750-12,000 feet, is a mineralized area 1-3 miles west and southwest of Winfield. Many small mines produced lode gold. In T11 and 12S R79E, with part of the district in Lake Co, The area of Creek gravel contains placer gold. The area mines produced lode gold. There are many placer workings in the area in the north part of the county, extending north into Lake County, along Cache and Clear Creeks. Years ago, I found some nice gold on a claim on Cache leased by the Colorado Prospectors Association. This is how I got the idea for the name Tom Ashworth's Prospectors Cache.
Some decent placers are south of Nathrop 2-3 miles along Browns Creek, in Browns Canyon near U.S. 285.
West of Salida at Monarch Pass, the area mines and dumps have gold showings. South of Salida 4 miles is the Cleora Mine that produced copper, near U.S. 50, with a by-product of gold. North of Salida, 4 miles, In the Trout Creek Hills via Route 291, is the abandoned Sedalia Copper Mine ore dumps containing a by-product of gold showings. West of Salida, 8 miles east of the Arkansas River Valley, at Sedalia, mine dumps have gold in abundant sphalerite. North 11 miles along Turret Creek, area mines produced a by-product of gold. North by Northeast 16 miles, to Calumet (Whitehorn) in Fremont County, elevation 9,500-10,000 feet, the area mine dumps have gold showings.
The Red Mountain area, from Twin Lakes west to the Continental Divide elevation of 11,000-12,000 feet, is difficult to reach; many area old mines above the valley produced lode and by-product gold.