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Southwest Life Health And the West is History Community Travel

And the West is History: Gold King Mill – La Plata District – ca. 1936

When the name “Gold King” is mentioned, most people immediately think of the Gold King Mine near Silverton. This is likely because of the infamous toxic wastewater spill from that mine in 2015. Gold King, however, was a very popular name for mines in Colorado with 11 counties in the state listing mines or claims with that name. Some counties even had multiple mines called Gold King. For early Durangoans, this mill pictured was probably the most well-known Gold King property as it was located up La Plata Canyon only 12 miles from Hesperus. The associated mine with its vein of gold was discovered in 1921 by Basil Caramouzis and sold to the La Plata Mines Co. in 1927. It purchased the former Bonnie Girl Mill, built in 1904. The company repurposed the old mill equipment and structure creating the modern mill seen here less than 2 miles from its namesake mine, near the junction of Tirbircio Creek and the La Plata River. A bucket tram was built to transport ore from the mine to the mill, and this long swinging bridge was constructed for workers to access the mill from nearby La Plata Canyon. By the end of the 1930s, the mine and mill had exhausted the precious metals in the vein and both were closed. The mill burned in July 2003, bringing the story of the mill to an end. – Ed Horvat for Animas Museum, edhorvat@animasmuseum.org (Catalog Number: 17.21.1 from the La Plata County Historical Society Photo Collections)