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Colorado Mineral Belt

The Colorado Mineral Belt (CMB) is a broad area stretching north-east from the San Juan Mountains in Southwestern Colorado to the Front Range of Colorado near Boulder, Colorado which is highly mineralized. Most of the historic mining camps of Colorado lie in this area with the exception of the Cripple Creek District.

The CMB is most famous for gold, over 25 million ounces of the metal have been extracted from the area. The gold deposits were first discovered in 1858. Further finds in 1859 prompted a gold rush lasting until 1867, over 1.25 million ounces of gold were produced in those eight years. By 1874, most significant deposits in the CMB had been found, although Cripple Creek was not discovered until 1891. The peak year of gold production in Colorado was 1900 and there are no major gold mines currently in operation in the CMB, leaving a number of sites as ghost towns.

Major historic sites of mining in the Belt included Central City in the Front Range, west of Denver (4.2 million ounces of gold 1859-1960); Leadville on the Arkansas River, gold was found there in the 1860s but the richer lead, silver and zinc lodes found from 1874 prompted more activity; In the San Juan Mountains the major finds were at Ouray, Silverton, Mount Sneffels, and Telluride where over 10 million ounces of gold was mined. Extracting gold from river gravel placers was also popular and a number of sites such as Breckenridge and Fairplay yielded considerable quantities of gold.

The area is now more popular for tourism, especially skiing.

CGS - Major Mining Disticts of Colorado