Rockin the Rockies

Rockin the Rockies
Stowe Mtn

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Clear Quartz from the Idarado Mine

Is it still rock hounding if you enter a store and fine a nice specimen from a mine that is closed and will never reopen again and purchase that specimen, or is that just adding to your collection? If you don't want to read about crystals from the Idarado Mine, read no further.
Mt Uncompaghre from near an Idarado Mine Shaft
The fall colors this year in SW Colorado were spectacular. Everywhere I turned there seemed to be professional photographers. I stopped at one of the openings to the Idarado Mine to take some fall foliage pictures. When I got into the town of Silverton CO I noted a number of well formed quartz crystal plates for sale. Inquiring of the owner, she said she had purchased them from an elderly gentlemen as he needed money to supplement his meager retirement income. When I asked the sales lady where crystals came from she said the Black Bear Vein of the Idarado Mine... well, that cinched it, I needed a plate. The sales lady wouldn't budge on price, and even wanted to jack-up the price of the specimen I had picked out. Finally I asked to see the owner and quickly had a rapport with her since she knew what I was talking about when examining the crystals. I had my eye on two specimens, but when negotiations with the owner broke down, I bypassed the plate with a 5" double terminated crystal and opted for the 8" crystal grouping below. I preferred the aesthetic appeal of the structure of the one pictured more than the plate with the large double terminated single crystal. As the owner wrapped my specimen she made me feel even better about my purchase when she mentioned just last week she had to mail a similar, but larger $7500 specimen to a buyer in Texas. I don't have that kind of money to spend on crystals, but a dropping a Grant or two on a nice crystal or two throughout the year is doable.
8" Quartz Crystal Plate from the Black Bear Vein of the Idarado Mine

The Idarado opened up many mines in Red Mountain District and made them successful again. In the1880’s there was a mining boom on Red Mountain Pass. The Yankee Girl Mine was the most famous. This early mining boom was mostly over by the mid 1890’s. Later, in 1943, the Idarado mine leased its property to the US Government to reopen the Black Bear mine through the Treasury Tunnel. The tunnel went for 5 miles from the top of Red Mountain Pass though the mountains, to Telluride. The Idarado mined minerals for World War II. Minerals from the mine were made into metal for making planes, ships and tanks.

The mine, present day
Picture by Ty Edder
In 1945 the Treasury Mill was rebuilt to mill lead, zinc, and copper ore. In 1946, a new crusher was installed at Idarado to increase ore production. By 1947, the Treasury Tunnel to Telluride was complete. In 1954, a big fire burned the Idarado buildings and they were rebuilt. By 1956, a new mill was built near Telluride. Red Mountain mill was shutdown. Idarado kept mines in Ouray going.
by Ty Edder 

For more information on the Idarado Mine see:

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