Kendall Gulch  
USGS 7.5' Map: Silverton and Howardsville
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Easy CR 33 6.42 9,239 to 12,880 ft. None 3 hours
County: San Juan
Adopted by:      
Managed by: San Juan County 1557 Greene St., Silverton, CO 81433 (970)387-8040
Summary: Kendall Gulch road is an easy road up Kendall Gulch on the south side of Kendall Mountain. It has a spur that goes to the top of Kendall Mountain.
Attractions: Scenic Views.
Natural - Closed by heavy snow.
Best Time: June - May still have drifts in the trees.
July - Best
August - Best
September - Best
October - Early snows may close the road.
Trail Heads
Camping: There are no camp spots along the road.
Base Camp: Silverton is a good area to base camp. Kendall Gulch and Kendall Mountain are a single road network out of Silverton, so the gulch does not have access to other 4WD roads.
Fall Colors: Poor - mainly pine trees and above timber line.
Navigation: From Silverton CO. head northeast on Greene Street toward E 13th Street for 0.1 miles. Take the second right onto E 14th Street and go 0.2 miles. Continue onto County Rd 33 for 2.9 miles. Turn left onto County Rd 33, the Kendall Gulch 4WD road.
History: In 1871 James Kendall was among the men who explored the new mining area around Silverton. This is who Kendall Mountain southwest of Silverton is named.

The Lackawanna Mine

In the late 1870s, Thomas Higgins invested in the Lackawanna Mine, which was within a short walk from Silverton and consisted of a group of claims that covered several veins on the gulch's east side. The other mine in the gulch, the Scranton City, lay at treeline at the base of a cliff on the gulch's west side. With the coming railroad and the smelter in Durango, Higgins sensed that the time was right to bring the claims into production and he hired several miners to work with him in initial development.

In 1882, the Lackawanna Tunnel & Mining Company drove two tunnels to undercut veins on Kendall Mountain. A short distance up Swansea Gulch, miners pushed the Scranton City Tunnel toward another vein. Almost one mile to the west, above Silverton, prospectors discovered a vein with potential in Idaho Gulch and staked the Idaho Group of claims. During 1883, miners leased the Idaho Group property and shipped ore to a Denver smelter for testing and treatment. The ore was visually impressive but difficult to treat, making it non-profitable to mine.

The Lackawanna Mine was promising enough to draw significant investment. In 1898, George Whitelaw and John Norton, principals with the Four Metals Mining Company in Pueblo, added the property to its growing roster of mines in the San Juans. By driving exploratory passages on several veins, miners found enough ore to sustain a constant but limited production, which encouraged the company to invest in surface improvements. One was a double-rope reversible tramway and a set of ore bins on the Animas River. The Four Metals Mining Company enjoyed such success with the Lackawanna that one of the directors proposed a concentration mill at the base of the mountain. After several years of regular production, the rest of the directors felt confident enough to agree and financed a modest facility. The Lackawanna Mill was finished in 1903, which is when trouble began. Similar to the Black Prince in Little Giant Basin, the ore was too complex for the mill and the veins featured less material than expected. By 1904, the operation had become unprofitable and work stopped.

During the 1907 recession a group of miners optimistically took a lease on the Lackawanna Mine, but as the economic climate disintegrated and metals prices slipped, they were unable to find the capital necessary for exploration and suspended operations.

During the World War I boom, the Lackawanna Mine became the focus of an important project. In 1917, John M. Wagner, who owned a number of mines in San Juan and San Miguel counties, confidently purchased the Lackawanna group of claims. During the winter, he made a deal with William A. Way, R.E.L. Townsend, and Melvin Smith to lease the main complex as the Lackawanna Mining & Reduction Company. The Lackawanna failed to meet expectations, and the partners dumped the lease during the year and moved on to other mines around Eureka.

In late 1917, a group of investors from the east assumed the Lackawanna Mine lease as the D.L. & W. Mining & Reduction Company. A crew of twenty attempted to ready the operation for work through the winter. One team accompanied master tramway builder O.F. Sackett to the Titusville Mine, dismantled the idle Huson tramway, and rebuilt it at the Lackawanna. The upper terminal stood near the main tunnel, and the lower terminal was on the Silverton Northern Railroad. A second group erected a concentration mill at the lower terminal. A third workforce developed ore and engaged in minor production. While the mill was under construction, the company leased the Silver Lake Mill to process high-grade ore that miners discovered in 1918. The compressor house and mill subsequently burned, and after the company collected insurance money, it rebuilt the structures and then dissolved.

C.H. Smith, J.E. Storey, and F.P. Despain held the same optimistic outlook about the Lackawanna Mine in 1926. The three Utah investors organized the Lackawanna Mining Company and hired a crew of ten to rehabilitate the surface plant and underground workings for production. Instead of immediately extracting ore, however, they waited to build a concentration mill. Upon completion in 1928, the mill was equipped with flotation to treat the Lackawanna's complex ore. Initially, the mill generated enough concentrates to justify a shipment to the Durango Smelter.

A.B. Crosby, who specialized in leasing proven mines, recognized enormous potential and assumed the lease on the Lackawanna. In 1948, he and J.H. Harvey organized the Osceola Mining & Milling Corporation to provide capital for more development and buy the Lackawanna Mill. A handful of miners generated around six tons of ore per day and processed the material in the mill. The operation changed hands in 1951 but remained a sound producer for several years after.

The Titusville Mine

In 1886 San Juan County entered a slump as mining direction changed. With silver's value sliding, investors were looking for ways to improve production efficiency by mechanization, increasing production, and reducing the extraction cost per ton of ore mined. Howardsville assayer Thomas Trippe spearheaded one of the county's most important projects in 1888 when he convinced investors to build a $50,000 concentration mill for the Titusville Mine. Trippe asserted that separating the waste from the metalliferous content and then shipping the concentrates to the Durango Smelter would provide significant cost savings. Instead of building the mill at the mine, Trippe had it built on Deer Creek near the Animas River where he could harness water power. Moving the ore to the mill required a Huson aerial tramway to carry the ore for a distance of around 8,000 feet. This may have been the county's third major tramway system.

At the Titusville, new director Thomas Kane started up the mill and tramway in 1890 on stockpiled ore, and the facility apparently recovered a satisfactory amount of the metalliferous content. Kane ordered his miners to increase production, and when the tonnage they generated exceeded the mill's capacity, he ordered the mill to operate around the clock.

Twitty, Eric Historic Mining Resouces of the San Juan County, Colorado United States Department of the Interior: OMB No.1024-0018, Print.
The Kendall Gulch 4WD road starts out of the south side of Silverton where 14th Street crosses the Animas River and becomes County Road 33. You will pass an intersection for County Road 32 to the left that goes to the Kendall Mountain Recreation Area. The Lackawanna Mine is in the trees to the northeast of the Recreation area. Staying on Cnty 33, you will head south southwest around the base of Kendall Mountain. The road is graded and well maintained.

The road will head south and come out of the trees giving you views of the Animas River and tracks of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad that runs from Silverton to Durango. The road will head back into the forest and do a couple of switchbacks before following the north side of Kendall Gulch. Shortly you will come to a large 'Y' intersection. The right will head south and follow the drainage of Deer Park Creek to some private cabins where it ends. A side road toward the end of the road goes to Verde Lake Trailhead.

Stay to the left to remain on Kendall Gulch road. You will do another series of switchbacks as climb above timberline. The road will now climb higher up on the north side of Kendall Gulch. The road will become a bit narrower, but will be in good condition. At the next intersection both directions, the road will become more of a one lane road. The right will continue up the gulch to the remains of the Titusville Mine complex. Not much remains here, just tailing piles and some small debris.

The road to the left will head back northwest and climb up the side of Kendall Mountain. There are a few pullouts along the road. Keep and eye out for on coming traffic. The road will make it almost to the top of Kendall Mountain #2 before it ends at a turn around. From this vantage point you will have great views of Silverton down below you, as you are almost directly above where you started.
Data updated - June 6, 2018       4WD Road driven - September 1990       Copyright - 2000-2018