Minnie Gulch  
Maps:        
USGS 7.5' Map: Howardsville
Statistics:
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Easy 2 CR24 4.25 9,824 to 11,600 ft. NA 1-2 hours
County: San Juan
Adopted by:      
Managed by: San Juan County 1557 Greene St, Silverton, CO 81433 (970)387-5766
Summary: Minnie Gulch contains mine remains and scenic views.
Attractions: History, Mining
Seasonal
Closure:
Natural - Closed by heavy snows.
Best Time: June - May still be snowed in
July - Best
August - Best
September - Best
October - Early snows possible
Trail Heads
Accessed:
Continental Divide National Scenic Trail - Hiking (spur connection)
Camping: There are no dispersed sites in Minnie Gulch.
Base Camp: This area would be a good place to base camp. There are many scenic 4WD roads and ghost towns in the area.
Fall Colors: Poor - Mainly pine forest and above timberline.
Navigation: From Silverton, CO. head northeast on Greene Street toward E 13th Street and go 0.3 miles. Turn right onto County Rd 2 and go 6.5 miles. Turn right onto County Rd 24, the Minnie Gulch 4WD road.
History: In the 1880s James Beaton developed a gold and silver vein on the Beaton Group of mines. Later D.W. Fleming organized the San Juan Mining Company to continue developing the vein. He built a mill in 1909, but held off on production due to the recession. In 1918, he reorganized the outfit as the Caledonian Mining Company and resumed where he left off. He ran the mill on low-grade ore and sent the higher grades of material to the Durango Smelter. This lasted into 1920, when the ore changed character at depth and miners had exhausted the shipping-grade material. Unfortunately, the mill was unable to treat the remaining low-grade ore. In 1921, economic woes and a collapse in metals prices discouraged his investors, and he suspended work. In the 1950's the Argyle Mining & Milling Company and Technical Services Company leased the Caledonia and did some work at the site. In 1957 the company left the region.

In the late 1900s and early 1910s, the Kittimac (Kitti Mack) Mines Company struggled with the Kittimac Mine, around one-half mile east of the Caledonia Mine. The Kittimac paralleled the Caledonia, in part because it tapped the same ore system. The Kittimac had extensive underground workings, a mechanized surface plant, and a mill unable to treat the complex payrock. Unlike Fleming, however, the Kittimac company had enough capital to refit its mill under the guidance of an expert. In 1915, James Hyde installed Huff Electrostatic separators to recover zinc and flotation machines to separate other metals. In 1916, after nearly four years puzzling out problems with the ore, the company successfully ran the mill for several months to demonstrate its effectiveness, then leased the entire operation out. The lessee was George A. Beaton, son of James Beaton, who had made a fortune from the Caledonia Mine during the 1880s. George Beaton organized the Kittimac Mining & Milling Company to work the property. P.M. Collins of the American Oil Flotation Company ran the mill and improved the flotation process, and Augustus Malchus oversaw operations. Malchus was also involved with the Mayflower in Arrastra Gulch. The mill did not recover adequate metals and had to be refitted again. Later in 1916, the mill finally functioned as expected, and as an added benefit, miners discovered a rich pay chute underground during 1917. The operation became profitable, but was short-lived as the ore declined in quality. In debt, the Kittimac Mining & Milling Company was unable to meet its payments, causing the Kittimac Mines Company to declare bankruptcy. The Kittimac Mines Company, remained in possession of the mine and spent 1918 operating it to realize some income. To evade creditors, principal Daniel Carey dissolved the company in 1919. He then found new investors, and moved the assets to the Sullivan Mines Company of Wyoming in hopes of resuming production. The property remained quiet for several years. In 1921 Carey interested Pennsylvania investors who organized the San Juan Consolidated Mining & Milling Company to lease and bond the property. They hired a crew of five miners who rehabilitated the surface plant and began driving exploratory workings underground. The nation's economy worsened, and the new firm gave up.

Twitty, Eric Historic Mining Resouces of the San Juan County, Colorado United States Department of the Interior: OMB No.1024-0018, Print.
Description:
Just south of the start up Minnie Gulch you will find the remains of the Kitti Mack (Kittimac) tram terminus and mill. This was where the ore from the Kitti Mack ended up after riding down the 1.75 mile long ariel tram. After starting up Minnie Gulch you will climb through four switchbacks in the forest. The road will exit the forest and become a ledge road above Minnie Creek. The road is graded for the most part and has many wide spots to pass other vehicles. Just after you cross the creek you will pass the foundation of the Caledonia Mill on the other side of the creek. Just up the road from here is the mill boarding house.
Caledonia Mine Boarding House - 1991

photo by:
Adam M

About a quarter of a mile from the boarding house you will cross the creek again and then come to an intersection. Taking the left you will climb through thirteen switchbacks. At the tenth switchback you will pass through the Caledonia Mine workings.
Caledonia Mine building - 1991

photo by:
Adam M

Caledonia Mine building. Detail of dove tail joint

photo by:
Adam M

At the last switchback there is a spur road to the left that leads to one of the upper Caledonia Mine tailings. There isn't anything there, but you get a nice view of the valley.

After making the last switchback it is a short distance to the Kitti Mack mine.
Kitti Mack Mine - 1991

photo by:
Adam M

Kitti Mack Mine building - 1991

photo by:
Adam M

Back at the intersection by the creek, if you take the right branch the road will continue to follow the main valley of Minnie Creek. The road will go through some small patches of trees as it climbs up the valley. Just after about a mile and a quarter from the intersection you will pass timberline and be at the tailings of the Esmeralda Mine. There is a curve in the road the takes you to the upper tailings of the mine. Also at the curve is a parking area for a spur trail that connects with the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.
Data updated - January 20, 2018     4WD Road driven - September 2, 1991     Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2018