Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Panning for Gold

O.k. so I have been a little neglectful when it comes to blog posting, but I have good reason.  Betsy and I were joined by our good friends Ann and Joanne from Philly and we have had so much fun exploring Breckenridge with them.  The week with them flew by but we found great things to do that kept us very busy.

One day Joanne suggested that we head to the Country Boy Mine for a tour and the experience of panning for gold just like the pioneers did during the gold rush.  What a perfect Colorado experience!  We donned our hard hats and rain slickers and headed over 1,000 feet into the dark, damp mine that still holds over $50 million dollars worth of gold (apparently it would take $70 million dollars to mine it).  There is more to do at the mine than just the tour and panning for gold – you can pet the burros, view mining exhibits and equipment that were used in the mine, slide down the 55-foot “ore chute” and enjoy the beautiful French Gulch scenery.

 The mine opened in 1887 after prospectors looked down in their rusted metal pans and found flecks of yellow gold.  Mines quickly sprang up in the Breckenridge area and eager hard working men flocked to the area in search of their fortune.  The Country Boy Mine was known for more than just gold.  Silver was also mined as was lead and zinc which were in high demand during World War I and World War II.

The mine tour gave us a new appreciation for how hard the work deep in the earth really was. Sledge hammers pounded metal bits for 10 hours a day and pneumatic drills deafened miners.  The only light to work by was provided by small flickering candles.  Cave-ins were common and rats were used in place of canaries (which were hard to come by in the Colorado mountains) to warn miners of dangerous gases.

After our mine tour, we grabbed up our pans and started scooping up rocks and sediment from the Eureka Creek in hopes of finding some of that precious gold.  We never yelled “Eureka” as all we found were fool’s gold (kind of fitting for us I would say).  But we had a great time shaking and swishing our pans.  We highly recommend the tour, just don’t expect to leave richer than when you came.

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