1861

Mining Begins in the Ward District

What to know:

Mining activity began in 1861 following the discovery of gold and silver in the mountains west of Boulder. This area is part of the Front Range (or Colorado) Mineral Belt, a linear zone of mineral-rich rock that is coincident with the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. Miners flocked to the area by the thousands, bringing families and establishing communities including Ward, Nederland, and Jamestown. Significant development, manipulation of the land, and impacts to streams and creeks were associated with this activity.

This photo shows the Front Range Mineral Belt in relation to Denver and local features (e.g. Boulder Creek, St. Vrain). The mineral belt involves a series of intrusions of magma that came up and through the existing land/rock. This helped raise the elevation of the area further forming the Rocky Mountains. Faults and sheer zones also formed (as shown on this figure), and erosional forces removed material and shaped drainages and peaks of the region. Source: USGS Preliminary Precambrian basement map of Colorado.

Front Range Mineral Belt in relation to Denver and local features (e.g. Boulder Creek, St. Vrain). The mineral belt involves a series of magma intrusions that came up through the existing land/rock, contributing to formation of the drainages and peaks of the region. Source: USGS Preliminary Precambrian basement map of Colorado.

Photographs of Common Mining Structures and Landforms