Riding back in time
FRISCO – Everyday road and mountain bikes transformed into time travel machines Sunday as a group of history buffs took Frisco’s bike path into the town’s mining past.
Following the footsteps of Frisco’s founder, Henry Recen, about 30 tour members explored the remnants of mines, cabins, and a dynamite powder magazine as volunteer Charlotte Clarke relayed Recen’s quest for gold and silver in the late 1800s.
A few of Recen’s ancestors met the group at the Meridian Mine. Vicki Recen-Gesford and her family spent Sunday afternoon in Frisco with rakes and shovels, working to preserve the historic family property. As owner of the family property, Gesford is required to work on the preservation of the family mines annually.
Gesford has heard stories about her great grandfather’s quest for shimmering riches since she was young.
“I can envision him seeing this big gold vein and feeling like he was so close,” Gesford said. “It’s nice to have family history and a place you can always go.”
The tour touched upon six of the major mines used until the early 1900s with remnants are still intact today.
The Meridian Mine, complete with its own railroad depot, is one of the few mines visitors still can walk into (although it isn’t advisable to venture in too far). Below it is a powder magazine where Recen stored the dynamite he used to blast through the mountain and create the mine. Recen and his son Henry Jr. thought they had struck gold at Meridian. They followed a sparkle in the mountain’s quartz, a common strategy for gold hunters. The mine turned out to hold no gold, however, and Recen’s dreams of striking it rich never fully materialized.
Excelsior Mine, discovered by Henry Recen’s brother Daniel, was not only a lucrative source of silver, gold, and lead, but a prime location for his bachelor lifestyle. Daniel Recen even hired private rail cars to equip his parties with champagne, oysters, and elite guests. Excelsior, which sits alongside the entrance ramp to Interstate 70 West leaving Frisco, was also the sight of Frisco’s first electric power to come from Ten Mile Creek.
Frisco’s first lode mine, Victoria, sits above the Mount Royal trailhead on the way to Frisco’s most famous ghost town, Masontown. Built in 1866, Victoria was one of the biggest producers of gold, silver, and copper, which were sent to Denver’s mint. The surrounding Masontown, which collapsed through a series of avalanches, is said to once have been a thriving hub, complete with bootleggers and illegal alcohol. The town was abandoned by the time the avalanches arrived.
King Solomon Mine
King Solomon Mine was the brainchild of James Myers, one of the biggest “promoters of Frisco,” according the tour guide Clarke. Complete with air compressors, water cooled drills, and a six-car railroad, King Solomon was the first big corporate mine. The mine transformed Frisco from a “played out-silver town to a gold town,” Clarke said. The railroad shipped gold, silver, and copper as late as 1910.
Monroe Mine is visible from the bike path outside of Frisco on the way to Copper Mountain. Built in 1897, the mine produced iron, gold, and copper. The mine sits high on the mountain, and no trail is visible. Workers likely rode the tram up and down from the mine. Admiral Mine, located four miles from Frisco, sits above Monroe on cement foundations and was a big producer of silver.
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