Home / Gold in Colorado / Arkansas River Drainage-Climax mine through the Derry Ranch



Mt. Massive

The Arkansas River Drainage runs from Climax Molybdenum Mine to the Mississippi River, but we will be only dealing with the part from the mine to Point Bar Recreational Area.  Since this area covers several hundred miles, you will find the information broken up into 4 pages so you don't get tired of reading so much copy, and so that you can find specific information more easily.



The Arkansas River runs through some of the richest ore bodies in the state.  At the northern tip of the river sits the Climax Mine, owned and operated by Freeport MacRohan and slated to reopen in 2011 or sooner. (Currently in '09, that opening is on hold, but construction at the site continues).  10 miles below sits Leadville.  Lead Silver Carbonate was the biggest money maker for Leadville until the silver crash in the 1890's.  Everyone knows the story of The Unsinkable Molly Brown and the Little Johnny, the saga of the Tabor's, and the tales of California Gulch, so gold was also an important part of Leadville's history.  Most of the area is claimed that would be on the river, but metal detecting goes on, in the surrounding hills where you are not on private, marked property or active claims. From Mosquito Pass to Independence Pass,  there is an extensive mining

community, fun to prospect as well as explore.  You can pick up a pamphlet from the Chamber of Commerce in Leadville that will show you a marked car/bicycle tour of the mining district to the east as well as many other interesting things in the area.  Around Turquoise Lake you can still pick up a piece or two of turquoise.  Oh, gem hunting in Colorado is also BIG.  The same geothermal conditions that put the gold into matrix in many areas also put some of the best crystals into pegmatite as well.  We won't get into fossils, but we have them too!


Downstream from Leadville are the Hayden and Derry Ranches.  The Hayden is still private property and is used for grazing, but the ranch part of the Derry is State land open for fishing.  The dredges found gold at the fifteen foot level and there is some surface gold, but whether you can prospect in this area is unsure. Sometimes I hear it is OK, and sometimes I hear the State does not want you in there. There are some old building still standing at the old ranch, but it is posted to stay out.


There is a lot of private property in this area and it is a dam site for the city of Aurora, so watch out for possible construction.  As of Feb '08 we have heard that the City of Aurora has erected signs prohibiting many activities.  There is, also, a large placer mining operation at the base of Mt. Elbert, the highest peak in the State, that operates on and off.  It is fenced and gated.


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