Theresa Mine headframe and ore bin, Cripple Creek, Colorado, August 2011. Photo credit: Vince Matthews for the CGS.

Historic Mining Districts

Colorado’s historic mining districts tell the tale of a state rich in precious minerals. From silver and gold to globally-ranked quantities of industrial minerals and coal, Colorado has a bit of everything. Geologists and miners recognized a broad area throughout central Colorado that contained many precious minerals: the so-called Colorado Mineral Belt. This region has produced much of Colorado’s mineral wealth for many decades, beginning in the 1800s. Prospectors came from all parts of the world to seek their fortune in the mountains of Colorado. When prices of minerals were high, mining hit boom times, creating large communities like historic Leadville, towns often disappeared after mineral prices fell or when mineral deposits were depleted.

Many mining-related structures stand as a testament to Colorado’s mining history. Some may be seen in towns such as Idaho Springs and Silverplume along Interstate-70. Mine tailings and spoil piles may be spotted covering hillsides throughout the state.