Rodeonexis Photo

Montezuma’s Sunset

In the mid to late 1800s, Leadville, CO was a major player in the silver and lead mining industry. Prospectors looking for similar rock formations soon made the trek over Independence Pass to Aspen, and staked claims throughout the Roaring Fork Valley. Even with Aspen Mountain being a literal ‘gold mine,’ production didn’t spike until 1887, when the Denver and Rio Grande railroads reached the town. Click HERE for more details. Soon after, the Montezuma Company set up production below the upper reaches of Castle Peak, the highest mountain in the Elk Range, and the 12th highest 14er in Colorado.

Montezuma Basin, and the rugged jeep road that accesses Castle Peak

Montezuma Basin, and its infamously rugged 4×4 access road. Elk Range, CO

Silver mining has been valuable for obvious reasons, but it was also important during the two World Wars because of its byproduct lead content. The Montezuma Company was quite successful during their short reign outside of Aspen, due to claims that produced large amounts of both sought after minerals. Unfortunately, Montezuma Basin was also quite prone to avalanches. The company had to rebuild the ore transfer tram a few times, and in the spring of 1907, funding dropped. Workers were told to leave machinery and gear for a quick return, but market prices dropped even further. Workers never returned, and the company went under. Up until the 1920s, hikers could still find work overalls hanging in bunk houses. Click HERE for further historical details for the Montezuma Mine.

Check back later this week for more details and images from © Rodeonexis Photography…brought to you by Jeremy Weir

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