|USGS 7.5' Map:||Silverton, Ophir|
|Managed by:||San Juan National Forest, Columbine Ranger District||367 Pearl St., P.O. Box 439
Bayfield, CO 81122
|Summary:||Mineral Creek road is an easy drive passing four campgrounds along Mineral Creek. It passes a waterfall and the Bandora Mine site.|
|Attractions:||Scenery, Mines, Waterfall|
|Natural - Closed by heavy snows.
June - May still have snow
July - Best
August - Best
September - Best
October - May be snowed closed
|Rico-Silverton Trail #507 - Hiking, Mountain biking, Horseback riding.
Ice Lake Trail #505 - Hiking, Horseback riding.
|Camping:||There are dispersed campsites along the road as well as at the Rico-Silverton trail head. There are four Forest Service campgrounds along the road as well.|
|Base Camp:||This would be a good place to base camp and explore the surrounding trails, do some fishing, or to drive up to Clear Lake, FR815, to do fishing.|
|Fall Colors:||Poor - The area is mainly pine forest.|
|Navigation:||From Silverton, CO. head southwest on Greene Street toward 11th Street for 0.5 miles. Slight right onto County Road 2 and go 417 ft. Take a slight right onto US-550 N and go 2.0 miles. Turn left onto County Road 7/Forest Service Road 585. This is the Mineral Creek road.
During the second rush to Baker's Park (Silverton) in the 1870's placer mining had given way to lode mining as the source of the gold in the creeks was tracked to the high outcroppings along the slopes of the valleys. During this second rush many silver veins were discoved as well as a few gold veins. In 1873 Henry F. Tower and Wesley A. Stevens brought the first sawmill into the Animas River area and assembled the mill on Mineral Creek where many straight spruce and fir trees grew. The sawmill saw instant success and could not keep up with demand.
In 1882 gold was discovered along South Mineral Creek. The Bandora Mine was established on the northern slope of Fuller Peak and a small community developed. In 1890, William Sullivan began developing the Bandora Mine, which proved rich silver ore. He sold it in 1891 to investors that organized the Bandora Mining & Milling Company. No activity took place at the mine and then the Silver Crash of 1893 happened continuing the inactivity. The ownder finally had enough of waiting and reopened the mine under superintendent James B. Snow in 1896. Because of the mines isolation the owners built a mill to separate out waste from the ore. Also, a contract was worked out with Ben Harwood to improve the existing trail into a road. In 1897, the owners leased the Bandora to Patterson & Johnson.
The next year, 1898, the partnership did not renew the lease. The Bandora company conducted some development to restore the mine to a ready state, but the property went idle. The Ross Mining & Milling Company leased the mine in 1907 because its ore was suitable material for the Kendrick-Gelder Smelter, which the firm had purchased in 1905. In 1908 the company sold the smelter and relinquished the lease on the Bandora. At this time, William Sullivan bought the mine back to develop another section of the vein, and began production. He was rewarded in 1911 with a rich strike, which sustained limited production until around 1912, when he suspended operations because the best payrock was gone. When metals values began to creep upward, Sullivan waited until 1916 and reopened the Bandora. He employed a small crew until 1920, when metals prices reached their peak. Sullivan exploited the positive market to sell to Henry Wycoff, before metals prices fell within a year. Wycoff prepared for production and even contemplated moving the Yukon Mill onto the property, before the 1921 depression struck and stopped operations at the mine again. The Sullivan family leased the remote property to Wilbur Maxwell & Associates in 1936. Maxwell rehabilitated the mine, produced payrock, and then turned the property over to the Blanco Mining Company in 1938. Blanco realized minor profits until 1940.
Smith, P. David The Road that Silver Built, 1st ed. Lake City, Colorado: Western Reflections Publishing Company, 2009. Print.
Twitty, Eric Basins of Silver, 1st ed. Lake City, Colorado: Western Reflections Publishing Company, 2009. Print.
Twitty, Eric Historic Mining Resouces of the San Juan County, Colorado United States Department of the Interior: OMB No.1024-0018, Print.
Jessen, Kenneth Ghost Towns Colorado Style, Volumn 3, 1st ed. Loveland, Colorado: J.V. Publications, 2001. Print.
|The Mineral Creek road starts off of Hwy550 as a two lane graded gravel road. This part of the road gives access to the four campgrounds along the road. Between the campgrounds are some small dispersed sites along the South Fork of Mineral Creek.
Past the South Mineral Campground, the last of the four, the road becomes less maintained and more of a two track. You will pass a Waterfall just past the South Mineral Campground that is a very short hike from the road.
The road will climb up above the creek and follows the valley created by Fuller Peak and Beattie Peak to the north and the Twin Sisters Peak to the south.
The road will pass the Bandora Mine site which still has a few structures standing. There is a foundation that was most likely for a small mill. Below the tailings near the creek is a small cabin.
After passing the Bandora Mine the road heads down to the bottom of the valley and crosses to the other side. You will cross the South Fork of Mineral Creek and come to a turn around area where the Rico-Silverton trail begins. There is parking here as well as dispersed camp sites. One short spur road to the west climbs up to a small camp site in the trees.
Just past the Bandora Mine you will pass an intersection to the right. This is a continuation of the road that goes to the Big Three Mine where the road ends. From here there is a trail over a pass to Lake Hope. This trail will continue down to Trout Lake below Lizard Head Pass. On the way back out you will have a great view of the mountains to the east of Clear Lake.
|Data updated - January 21, 2016 4WD Road driven - August 9, 2015 Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2016|