Adventuring at altitude throughout the Colorado Backcountry offers unique experiences, to say the least. Whatever has drawn your soul into the Backcountry, you cannot venture far without catching site of the many jewels that dot these remote lands. As you traverse ever so slowly up and down the mountain passes, you will see the remains of yesteryear, the remains of mining camps, in varying stages of decay. As you wander on these sacred grounds your mind stretches in wonderment, how did these ancient people create such great feats in a time much less “civilized” than the world we now live?
The London Mines and their remains sit proudly on Mosquito Pass. The mines were home to many, beginning in the 1860’s. Like many lands in Colorado, so remote, lands that had never felt a man’s footstep, the London Mines quickly became a dangerous home for a thriving community. Where residents were willing to trade their safety and place their lives in grave danger to toil away with a common goal shared by all of the community, a goal of fantastic fortune and wealth. The gamble paid off, at least for some, and the mining company did hit on gold, in fact, the London Mines are home to one of the richest gold strikes ever in Colorado.
Mosquito Pass, 13,186 feet above sea level, makes claim as the highest “driveable pass” in modern-day Colorado. The pass was constructed by the mining company, linking Alma and Leadville, established as a toll road. This was a heavily traveled road during the days prior to when the railroads finally reached these mountain towns in 1880. My mind wanders, thinking of the inevitable traffic jams of those days. How did these passenger wagons navigate the narrow “road” of the day? How frightening of a prospect it must have been when two wagons met and had to navigate the terrain to pass one another, this was certainly a formidable adventure!
As you take to your Colorado travels, find some time to be in awe and contemplate all the treasures the mining era has left to us. Those jewels that are left in our mountains, as well as the miners ever-lasting affect on our lives today. Those brave, daring, a bit crazy, individuals; adventuring where no one had before, chasing their dreams into the unknown, leaving a landscape that has been forever changed by their presence.
SOUTH LONDON MINE
NORTH LONDON MINE