COBWEB CORNERS: Tharís gold in that creek!
By Mel McFarland
It is hard to imagine gold being found around Colorado City, but it happened, and how about in Ute Pass? There are more stories than this to be shared here, but I am going down the pass today.
Ute Pass was searched many times all the way into the 1940s! One fellow was most persistent, and was in a way successful. He lived in Colorado City and almost made a living on the gold he found in Fountain Creek. The gold in Cripple Creek eluded the early gold seekers because there is little "free" gold in the area. It was such "free" gold that was found in the pass. "Free" gold actually is pretty near pure stuff, not ore.
When the first town was started on Fountain Creek, at the mouth of Ute Pass, the settlers had come from Denver looking for gold, and they found some. It soon ran out. Every now and then, others would try panning in Fountain Creek, and even get some now and then. Since the stream comes from higher in the pass, the smarter ones tried up there, and found some. Just before Cripple Creek really took off, people dug holes all over these hills looking for that yellow metal, and some found it. One of those spots was just east of where the Safeway is in Woodland Park! Unfortunately, like most, it was just a tiny sample and went nowhere.
I learned the story of this man in Colorado City, who as a youngster played in the creek. A neighbor gave him a pan and showed him how to use it. Over the years he worked Fountain Creek now and then, all the way up to Green Mountain Falls. He even set up a sluice along the creek in Colorado City, which he ran all one summer. Throughout the summer he came up with enough gold to provide a basic income. It is said that one summer he found over a thousand dollars worth of dust. He never talked much about his success, but kept a small notebook of where he went and what he found. A story in the newspaper gave the impression he was crazy. His best finds were in the heart of the pass after big storms. It was his thought that there were several veins running in the area, but he never found them. He left his notebook with a neighbor just before he passed on, but at some point it has been lost. Now that neighbor is gone, but the story goes on.