The riches of Gold Run Gulch

REBECCA WAUGHspecial to the dailySummit County, CO Colorado
Breckenridge Mayor John Warner dedicates the Hoodoo Voodoo 5k Cross Country ski trail on February 14, 2009. The historic Jessie mill structure stands in the background.

Beginning in 1859, Gold Run Gulch poured its riches down into the town of Breckenridge. Millions of dollars in free gold were lifted from ancient stream beds, ground sluiced and, later, washed down from the hillsides by hydraulic nozzles on the historic Peabody Placer mining claim. All this vast wealth caused very little conflict except for a heavy black sand that quickly clogged the sluice riffles. The annoying metal was discarded with the tailings. However, it was soon discovered that these heavy black sands contained – silver!Eyeing the rainbow-colored hillsides in Gold Run Gulch, prospectors began looking for the blue and green hint of silver. Fanning out, they quickly discovered hundreds of lodes (veins) mixed with gold, silver, lead and zinc. In 1884, E.C. Moody and H.H. Irwin discovered gold and silver veins, established the Jessie and the Seminole mining claims, and built a 10-stamp mill. Two years later, they sold the property to a group of St. Louis investors. This company enjoyed profits for several years until its simple ore was exhausted. But W. J. Wilson was convinced that the Jessie mine could be profitable with more development and an effective mill. He formed the Jessie Gold Mining & Milling Company. In 1893, the company sold the original mill and built a new facility in Gold Run Gulch. There were disappointments along with the riches. Even the broadest and finest veins in the Jessie had a tendency to thin out. But Ben Stanley Revett, a mining man, knew that these things happened and targeted the mine as a ready source of income for his dredging company. In 1899, he spent a considerable sum improving both the mining and milling operations and installed a dynamo and electrical system. The improvements included several tunnel houses, a shop, an office, an air compressor, and the mill. A crew of 25 lived in a 16 _ x 56-foot boardinghouse, 12 x 28-foot bunkhouse, and a 12 x 36-foot bunkhouse Among other improvements were a tramway and three miles of workings. But, a mine this size was costly to operate and difficult to manage, and Revett failed to renew his lease in 1900. Instead Thomas R. Griffith and Alex Matthiesen assumed operations and profited from Revetts improvements. Additional owners and lessees would follow. James T. Hogan, George Roth, and, again, Alex Matthiesen helped to make the mine one of Breckenridges biggest producers of gold and silver ore until 1939. Around this time, the Royal Tiger Mines Company (later known as B & B Mines) launched an acquisition campaign that included the Jessie. B & B Mines conducted explorations in 1950 and left with no results. This was the last activity at the Jessie mine and mill site.

Together, as part of the B&B Mines Open Space acquisition, the Town of Breckenridge and Summit County Government initiated a cleanup of the area surrounding the Jessie mill site. The water from Gold Run was re-channeled away from the tailing piles to improve water quality in the creek. Also, Gold Run Road was realigned to improve drainage and address the issues of erosion and sedimentation from water traveling on the road. The historic mill ruins were stabilized by Harris Construction, and several wetland species were also planted in the area to stabilize the stream channel and improve habitat in the area.On Feb. 14, Breckenridge Mayor John Warner dedicated the Hoodoo Voodoo 5k Cross Country ski trail, which starts directly to the west of the Jessie mill site. It winds around, over, and through the historic Peabody Placer hydraulic mine. It is a great addition to the Gold Run Nordic Centers 27k groomed cross country ski trail system.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.