Nolan Creek  
Maps:        
USGS 7.5' Map: Fulford
Statistics:
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Easy 2 FR418 9.40 9,140 to 11,200 ft. NA 2-3 hours
County: Eagle
Adopted by:      
Managed by: White River National Forest,
Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District
24747 US Highway 24
Minturn, CO 81645
(970)827-5715
Summary: Nolan Creek runs from Yeoman Park near Fulford Cave, past the town of Fulford and then up to the Polar Star Mine on New York Mountain.
Attractions: Mine
Seasonal
Closure:
Agency - November 23 to May 20
Best Time: June - The upper part may still be drifted in
July - Best
August - Best
September - Best
October - Best
Trail Heads
Accessed:
Gold Dust, FT1853 - Hike, Equestrian
Nolan Lake, FT1898 - Hike, Equestrian
New York Mountain, FT1876 - Hike, Equestrian
New York Lake, FT2221 - Hike, Equestrian
Camping:  
Base Camp: This would be a good area to base camp and explore the roads around Fulford.
Fall Colors: Good - The lower sections of the road pass through many aspen groves.
Navigation: To start at the north end, from Eagle, CO. head west toward Eby Creek Road. Exit the traffic circle onto Grand Ave and go 463 feet. Turn left onto Capitol Street and go 0.8 miles. Turn left onto Brush Creek Road and go 0.8 miles. Turn right to stay on Brush Creek Road and go 0.2 miles. Turn left to stay on Brush Creek Road and go 15.0 miles. Turn left to start the Nolan Creek road.
History: In 1887 two men found gold along a side drainage of Brush Creek. A camp began called Nolan's Camp named for William Nolan, one of these early prospectors. One day in 1887, Nolan was hiking up a creek, crossing a log, when his gun discharged by accident, the bullet entering his jaw and severing his tongue. Nolan died from his wound, and his friends named the creek after him as well. The area above Nolan Creek was part of the Battle Mountain and Aspen mineral belt and a new mining area began to grow. Two towns developed, sitting side by side, Nolan's Camp and Polar City.

Many places have stories of lost gold mines. Fulford is no exception. In 1849 Buck Rogers and a group of men from Ohio passed through Colorado on their way to California. Finding some color in Brush Creek, Buck and several other men decided to stay to find the mother lode, which they did. It is claimed that they amassed over $100,000 in gold. Winter set in and the group was running out of supplies. They decided to sent Buck to the nearest camp to get provisions, out near Pikes Peak. This trip took some time so it was almost a month later before he returned. What he found was a large snow slide had covered the mine entrance leaving no sign of his partners. Buck never found the gold mine, and on his deathbed, supposedly, gave those people present directions to the mine. Over the years, the directions changed hands several times and have lost some of their accuracy.

Arthur Fulford is the next connection to this story. Arthur was born to Edward and Sarah Fulford in Canada in 1857. When Art was 14, Edward, a Methodist-Episcopal minister, moved the family to Fairborn, Nebraska. Art was the eldest of the children which included Adelaide, Albert, Marshal "Mont", Francis and twins Harriet and William. Arthur left home to venture to Leadville, Colorado, in 1879, when the silver boom began. He married 19-year-old Annabelle Donald. The marriage did not last and Arthur headed to Red Cliff where, at age 24, he was elected town marshal, serving two years. A big man, who demanded respect with his six-shooter on his hip, it was said that Arthur could tame a rowdy saloon by stepping into it.

After discovering several mines, Arthur began prospecting around the new mining camp called Nolan's Camp, which was tucked some twenty miles south of the town of Castle (Eagle). In 1887, Edward and Sarah Fulford moved to the Brush Creek area with their younger children to join their older sons Arthur and Mont. Edward purchased a ranch ten miles up Brush Creek, which later became known as the "Halfway House", a rest stop for travelers going from Eagle to the mining camps above Nolan Creek. One day a prospector arrived at the Halfway House in need of a horse to go to the mines. He and Arthur became friends and, eventually, he asked Arthur to become his partner in the lost mine. Two weeks later the man was killed in a barroom brawl in Red Cliff. It is said that Arthur searched the man's cabin and found the map to the mine. He needed to stake a claim before the end of the year.

On December 31, 1891, Arthur finished a late breakfast at the Lanning Hotel in Nolan's Camp, watching snow fall. The hotel was located in White Tail Gulch at the end of a 22-mile trek from Eagle and a little above Polar City. Arthur should have been home in Red Cliff with his pregnant wife and two young sons, but the weather was not going to turn him back from staking the claim. Art checked his pocket watch. It was after 10 a.m., and his partner Byron Barthoff had not arrived. Art decided that he couldn't wait for Byron. Pulling his coat collar round his neck, Art went outside and strapped on his snowshoes. The air was frigid, but he trudged away from Nolan's Camp and climbed nearly 1,500 feet to the top of New York Mountain, passing the Polar Star cabins. When he reached his goal, Art marked his claim, and in the cold started down the mountain. He headed to Bowman Gulch where he would meet Byron at the Bayreta cabins, buildings he had built with his brother, Mont, and their friend, Solon Ackley, in 1886. From the cabins he and Byron could then hike out the Lake Creek drainage then board a train at Berry Creek and ride to Red Cliff to file the claim. Arthur continued toward Bowman Gulch along the ridge below New York Mountain. Suddenly, he heard a loud noise like a gunshot and looked down. The mountain of snow beneath his snowshoes was moving. He was suddenly swept off his feet.

On January 1, 1892, Byron started up on the backside of the New York Mountain looking for Arthur Fulford. He followed Art's tracks to the point where they entered a massive snow slide on the Lake Creek drainage. Byron returned to camp to get help and thirty men returned to the site and began the search for Arthur. They found his body five days later. Arthur's body was taken to Red Cliff and buried in grand style. For years afterwards, tales were told of a fabulous fortune that Arthur had hoped to claim.

After Arthur's death, Nolan's Camp and Polar City were combined to form one town that was renamed Upper and Lower Fulford. At its peak, the Upper Fulford district had more than 500 mining claims. Some of the mines included Polar Star, Cave, Adelaide, Lady Belle (a silver mine), New York, Iron Age and Killier B. Lower Fulford, continued to grow and finally just became Fulford.

The mines continued to produce gold, copper, silver and lead around Fulford until 1895. In 1893 they hit the highest point in gold production. During this time over 600 residents lived in Fulford. Fulford had a post office from 1892 until 1910 when it was closed. In 1896, Fulford was platted in Eagle County. At that time, Fulford only had around 100 residents with 25 buildings, including two hotels, two general stores and three saloons. The Polar Star was said to be the richest in the district, up on the side of New York Mountain. Ore from the Polar Star mine was processed at its own twenty-five-stamp mill around the clock.

After 1895 and profits began to decline as fewer stikes were made. In 1901, Mrs. Lanning closed her Fulford hotel for the winter season. Others followed suit. By 1902 only eight students were enrolled in school. In 1908 the Eagle Valley Enterprise reported, "practically no work being done on any of the mines in the Fulford District." And the school closed its doors in 1912. In 1913, the Lanning Hotel was once again filled with customers when a fresh strike in the 1913 Tunnel was discovered. The boom did not last but a few weeks and Fulford became a ghost town.

In 1948, a tax assessor, by the name of Hemberger, bought most of Fulford land. When he died, his estate liquidated the town lots, though few were sold. In 1974, the Scandian Corporation of Denver bought the remaining Hemberger lots. These lots were put up for sale to the public. For many years, Harvey Icks was the sole resident of Fulford and self-proclaimed mayor of the town. During his tenure at Fulford, he communicated with the outside world by ham radio, and each day radioed the weather conditions to the local forestry service. He also kept a guest book. One year, between June and November, he recorded over 1,900 signatures. Harvey lived in Fulford until the mid-1970s when his health caused him to move to Eagle. The 2010 census listed two permanent residents in Fulford.

As for the story of Buck Rogers lost mine, it continued on. By the 1890s the directions to the lost mine had been published in a Denver newspaper, bringing flocks of adventurers following the clues to Slate Mountain (most likely New York Mountain). Even today, people drive up to Fulford in search of the Buck Rogers mine. More recently a post on Rocky Mountain Profiles reads: "September 11, 2011. My name is Wade. I grew up in Eagle and as a teenager hiked in the New York range with my father and did some prospecting. We researched the "Lost Buck Rogers Mine" and had a map to the mine. After several years of searching, we found the mine portal, including some of metal and tools, square nails and a cabin foundation. It is located above timberline in a spooky valley between the peaks. The location is covered with boulders and would take heavy equipment to re-open the entrance. The only access is by rope. It's a gravesite up there now. So spooky and chilly, yet so beautiful. It remains one of my favorite places on earth. This is a true story."

Vail Valley Magazine, 2015. Website.
Jessen, Kenneth Ghost Towns Colorado Style, Volumn 2, 1st ed. Loveland, Colorado: J.V. Publications, 1999. Print.
Southworth, Dave Colorado Mining Camps Wild Horse Publishing, 1997. Print.
Eberhart, Perry Colorado Ghost Towns and Mining Camps Athens, Ohio: Swallow Press, 1959. Print.
Wolle, Muriel Sibell Stampede to Timberline Athens, Ohio: Swallow Press, 1949. Print.
Description:
Beginning in Yeoman Park where the Nolan Creek road leaves the East Brush, FR415, road you will climb up a series of long switchbacks through the aspens on the northwest side of Craig Peak. The road is a two lane graded gravel road that will cross over a ridge and drop down into the Nolan Creek drainage. Just past the Nolan Creek crossing you will come to a road to the left. This road takes you into the small town of Fulford. Staying with the Nolan Creek road you will loop around to the north side of Fulford before coming to a right turn in the road. At this turn a two track road, Old Fulford, FR419, which heads toward Triangle Park.

Staying on the Nolan Creek road you will head north for awhile before coming to the Porphyry, FR435, road to your left. Stay to the right and follow the curve around toward the east. At a very sharp haripin turn you will come to the intersection with the Bellyache, FR421, road to your left. Follow the hairpin turn around and continue heading south.

The road will become a well used two track as it turns and heads east. You will pass through aspen forests before starting a series of long switchbacks that climb up into the pine forest on the side of New York Mountain. As you climb higher the trees will thing a bit. You will come to a wide area in the road, beyond which the road will end just below the remains of the Polar Star Mine.

Data updated - March 21, 2019      4WD Road driven - August 3, 2003      Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2019