MINING HISTORY OF CONEJOS PEAK DISTRICT
Jasper – Cornwall District boomed in 1874 after discovery of gold at Summitville brought prospectors to the area. Jasper mines were close to town. Among mines on this side of the river were the Rosie S., the Jessie S., Lulu, Buckeye, and the I-Don’t-Care. Across the river on Cornwall Mountain were the Perry, the Miser, Guadalupe, Tinware, Adams, Sickles, the Clara, the Ella, Tip Top and Tidal Wave. A few of the old Jasper log houses survive as summer homes today. Here and there in the woods other old cabins are slowly returning to the earth they grew from as trees 100 years ago.
Over this hair-raiser trail, the gold and silver ores from the mines of Jasper-Cornwall District Stunner and Platoro on the Conejos were packed by burro trains. The trains descended a creek on the north side, still called Burro Creek to Los Pinos (The Pines) and. From Del Norte, wagons carried the ore to Canon City on the Arkansas and the new railroad carried it east.
This stream is well named. In 1870, James Wightman and four friends prospected up to the headwaters of this wild mountain cataract and by their finds started the gold rush to the mountain near its source, to become the famous Summitville, highest mining camp in the State of Colorado.
Bitter Creek and Alum Creek are highly toxic unusable because of acidity and high mineral content—silicon dioxide, ferric, oxide, aluminum oxide, calcium oxide, magnesium oxide and sulfur trioxide. The boulders, banks, and even the bridges of these creeks after heavy rains above and resulting high water, are coated with a yellowish cement-like wash, limonite. Numerous tributaries contribute significant levels of pollution to the Alamosa River. This pollution prevents the river from supporting a diverse aquatic ecosystem. Sources of this pollution are primarily natural mineral outcrops on Lookout Mountain and its two adjacent peaks.
Stunner, never very big has long been a ghost town with ghost mines on both sides of the Alamosa River. The names of its mines have a special flavor—the Orpheus, Cornucopia the Merrimac, Log Cabin, and Snow Storm, and as always, a mine for a wife, daughter or sweetheart, the Louise. Only those mines north of the river shipped payable ore; those south shipped no ore. Stunner, like the Platoro camp south across the mountain to the left, had transportation problems. The government road had washed out by 1885 and was not repaired because of the discontinuance of the forts at Fort Garland and at Pagosa Springs, and the construction of a railroad over Cumbres Pass to the south. This meant mail was delivered by pack trains and post riders in the summer and on skis in the winter.