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Thread: The Lost Carson Mine

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  1. #16
    us
    Jul 2012
    Albuqerque, NM / Durango, CO
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    Six weeks later Carson once again appeared in Silverton, but not with as much ore as his previous attempts. He explained this was simply due to the fact he did not need as much on this trip. Again, pointing to the fact he was not greedy and out of his mind with the pursuit of wealth and gold. I am sure he had already outfitted himself with the best gear he could buy at the time, and simply considered his vein of sugar quartz as his own personal bank account to make withdrawals from. Since nobody knew of its location but him, it was much safer to leave the gold in the rock than to carry it around on his person where it might be stolen or lost. And I am sure he already had quite a bit of cash in his wallet from previous trips. He was content to roam around the area aimlessly between trips to the vein to enjoy all the area had to offer, which also gave the people trying to track him fits I am sure. Shorty Swink and Milt Holiday had observed him on the trail on the west side of the Needle Mountains south of Molas Lake on this trip. He was on his way out at that sighting, from deeper in the high country to the east.

    I have personally been to Molas Lake many time to fish and enjoy the scenery. The trout from it are clean and delicious. And the Needle Mountains tower above it to the east, presenting an imposing sight when one thinks of accessing them for any reason. Not an area anyone should venture who is not acclimated to the elevations involved, and fully prepared to deal with the elements that change within minutes.

  2. #17
    us
    Jul 2012
    Albuqerque, NM / Durango, CO
    Garrett Infinium & Gold Bug II, Bazooka Super Prospector Sluice
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    When he left town again he claimed he was going to lower elevations for the winter, and that anyone who wanted to follow him was welcome to try. No one seemed chomping at the bit to do so however, as word had spread of how he dealt with those who sought to invade his privacy. Late in the Autumn Carson once again showed up in Silverton, this time with only 2 small bags of ore to sell. He had not been feeling well it seems, from his own reports. When he left Silverton he took a small keg of "medicine", which I am sure was some form of alcohol.

    But then sadly his body was found near the old stage station at Molas Lake on a grassy bench by a couple of riders. Quite a bit of money was found on the body as you can imagine. It appeared he had suffered a fatal heart attack and had simply fallen off his mule to the spot where his body was found. Ore samples were also found on the body, but there was no trace of a map or written directions to his vein.
    JudyH, Rebel - KGC and audigger53 like this.

  3. #18
    us
    Jul 2012
    Albuqerque, NM / Durango, CO
    Garrett Infinium & Gold Bug II, Bazooka Super Prospector Sluice
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    So here we have a treasure tale that involves no Indian attacks, no trail markers, no map, just a guy who found a rich vein outcropping on the surface and exploited it by himself. The usual treasure tale formula simply does not apply, and presents hardy individuals with an opportunity to search for something that is documented by assay and sales reports in Silverton. There are several such tales in the area, but involving different men in different areas in different ranges of mountains. This makes a lot of sense, as the prospectors present in the 1890's there often worked alone and deep in the wilderness. Far from prying eyes and greedy souls. WHen they died, their secrets died with them, and leave behind a true challenge to those who would follow in their footsteps.

    There are more clues available as to where his vein might have been located, and I post more about that later this afternoon.

  4. #19
    mx
    Nov 2004
    Alamos,Sonora,Mexico
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    sounds basically like the lost Dutchman mine, except there they have brought in too many confusing things. This is much cleaner and direct..
    "I exist to live, not live to exist"

  5. #20
    pt
    Sep 2014
    2,641
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    The facts behind the factoids
    Quote Originally Posted by UncleMatt View Post
    This was posted about the Carson gold assay by sdcfia in the thread about the new show on the dutchman mine, I hope he is okay with me reposting it here in this thread:

    "Seems like the assayer worked out of Silverton (maybe)? Somewhere nearby, anyway. The old guy (in his 70s in 1974) was called Buddy and was a great guy with a fun wife. He lived a couple-three-four blocks or so east of where I lived at the time, which was the top floor of a corner house across the highway from a coffee shop on the north end of town. Buddy hired me to run his Punjar for him for about a month in his one-man mine (two, with me) outside of Ouray. It was in the amphitheater area in a kind of weird secret place behind a locked gate. I always rode in his truck with him to the site. It seemed easy enough then, but that was 40 years ago already."
    Not a problem, Matt. I'm sure that Buddy must have mentioned Carson by name when he told me the story, but I don't remember ever hearing the name. At the time I was pretty green and now wish I'd paid more attention to what Buddy was saying - he had a lot of knowledge about the mines in the San Juans and told lots of stories. I wonder if any of the local museums, libraries or historical clubs in the region might have a copy of that assay? It seems like something that someone would have kept.

    On the other hand, I was rummaging through some old filing cabinets in one of the abandoned buildings of the Pewabic Mine (lead, zinc) just west of Santa Rita and found an original telegram to the mine operators thanking them for their efforts that helped the US troops in North Africa during WWII. It was signed by DD Eisenhower. Just sitting there in a pile of old time cards and other worthless stuff. Maybe DDE telegrams were a dime a dozen, but I snatched it and gave it to the museum in Silver City. Seems like the Carson assay would have been preserved by someone.
    Last edited by sdcfia; Mar 21, 2015 at 05:22 PM. Reason: -

  6. #21
    fm
    Raggedy old Crow

    Jan 2005
    In a tax haven some where
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    Hello Matt do you have a time frame these events happened? year of His death etc...

    Crow
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  7. #22
    us
    Jul 2012
    Albuqerque, NM / Durango, CO
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    Crow, The story says Levi Carson first came to town with his famous gold ore in the spring of 1895.
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  8. #23
    fm
    Raggedy old Crow

    Jan 2005
    In a tax haven some where
    ONES THAT GO BEEP! :-)
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    Growing old disgrace fully as possible.
    Quote Originally Posted by UncleMatt View Post
    Crow, The story says Levi Carson first came to town with his famous gold ore in the spring of 1895.
    Okay I will have look if I can find some thing in the archives. that might help verify Levi Carson. So sit tight. Back in 5.

    Crow

  9. #24
    pt
    Sep 2014
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    The facts behind the factoids
    The Needles - a good place for a lost gold mine.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    UncleMatt and Rebel - KGC like this.

  10. #25
    fm
    Raggedy old Crow

    Jan 2005
    In a tax haven some where
    ONES THAT GO BEEP! :-)
    1,755
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    Growing old disgrace fully as possible.
    Okay

    There was a Levi Carson whose parents was originally from Pennsylvania. Levi was born in Ohio in around 1830. He married Sarah Pemberton in Kansas 3rd February 1859. They had 6 children. They all lived in Ammas valley la Plata county Colorado in 1880. Was listed as a farmer.

    Per Hood Mortuary Records. Durango Democrat says Levi Carson was a farmer on the Florida Mesa raising, among other things, goats. His estate was handled by an Oliver Carson. Oliver Carson was his youngest son, confirmed also by 1880 census records. the recorded date of his death was 24th October 1904. he was buried in the Green mount cemetery Durango la Plata county Colorado.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    So from this we can assert that a Levi Carson did exist in the state of Colorado. what is interesting by the time of the 1900 United States Census there was no mention of him. This could of been because he was away at the time on a trip to his alleged gold mine?

    Crow

  11. #26
    pt
    Sep 2014
    2,641
    6884 times
    The facts behind the factoids
    More info on the story (quote and map from GeoZone The Lost Carson Mine):

    "Shortly after his last visit to Silverton, Levi Carson died of a heart attack near Big Molas Lake. Prospectors began to search the rugged country between Big Molas Lake and the West Needle Mountains for Carson's mine. Search parties scoured the area near the headwaters of Twilight Creek after one of Carson's campsites was found there. During the 1920's, a prospector from Durango named John Edwards discovered a fragment of rich "float" on Twilight Creek. The float consisted of iron-stained quartz filled with nodules of free gold. During the summer of 1928, another resident of Durango named Mike Powell found float similar to this near the junction of Twilight Creek and Lime Creek. Rich float can still be found on Twilight Creek."

    Click image for larger version. 

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  12. #27
    us
    Jul 2012
    Albuqerque, NM / Durango, CO
    Garrett Infinium & Gold Bug II, Bazooka Super Prospector Sluice
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    Before he died Carson confided in his family that his strike was on the north face of the West Needle Mountains. He also told them he did not have to work hard to recover the ore, and that it was a surface outcropping of sugar brown quartz loaded with free gold. As well he indicated it was far above his main camp at the foot of the mountains, well above tree line. He said when he was working at the site he stayed in a crude shelter under a rock overhang with some poles leaning against it, and when he left he always made sure the vein was well covered. He said it was inaccessible to pack animals entirely as well.

    After Carson died people began looking for signs of where he had been working in the area. A couple of his campsites were located, one of the most extensive being found at timberline on Twilight creek, where grazing was excellent for his pack animals, and he only had to build a crude gate in the only downhill exist to prevent them from wandering off. As sdcfia posted, John Edwards found samples of float that matched Carson's ore on Twilight Creek. He was a professional prospector, and also an avid fisherman. While on fishing trips on the east bank of the Lime River he would explore the Twilight watershed extensively searching for signs of Carson's mine. One year he found a cache on a small ledge of dynamite and steel drills presumably left by Carson, up a little side canyon high up on the Twilight Creek watershed, very near Carson's main base camp. But he soon gave up after not finding anything further, and it was extremely hard to access the area he needed to search.

    Mike Powell, a local stockman, also found float of the same kind much lower in the same area of Twilight Creek. The most memorable sample was about the size of a man's fist and assayed at the time at several thousand dollars per ton. Unfortunately he was not experienced with prospecting and only searched the area he found the fist size ore sample, not understanding it had come from much higher in the watershed.

    But the most interesting find was made by a sheep herder named Juan Quintana while working for J. J."Jack" McCormick, a sheepman from Durango. That year Jack established a sheep camp at the little basin at the head of Twilight, very near where Carson had his main base camp. While bored and hiking around the area, Quintana discovered the vein Carson had been working, including the crude pole shelter, an old fire pit, and rusted tin cans in a trash site. He took some samples from the vein back to the camp Jack had set up for him to tend sheep from, and when Jack came to visit to make sure all was well with his heard and Quintana was managing things well, he saw the ore samples. Of course he became quite excited and demanded his employee tell him where he had found the ore. But Quintana was afraid he would be killed if he revealed his secret, and was very superstitious, which was quite common with Mexican born sheepherders in the area at the time. Quintana took all the ore samples but the leanest one and buried them under a large spruce tree nearby during the night. Then when Jack returned to Durango to have the remaining ore sample assayed, Quintana returned to the vein site and covered it completely with dirt, and removed the poles from the shelter and threw them down the slope and scattering them completely.

    The lean ore sample Jack returned to town with assayed at over $500 a ton. But Quintana would not reveal the place he found it, no matter what Jack tried to induce him with to reveal the location. Around ten years later in 1932 when Quintana was working for another outfit run by a guy named Corny, he started talking about what he had found long ago. Corny was a kind and considerate man who respected the sheepherder and treated him much better than Jack had. By this time he was an old man, and though he tried to describe the exact location to Corny, he could not describe it well enough so that Corny could figure out the location. He promised to lead Corny to the exact spot the following spring, as winter had already set in. But he died that winter from pneumonia, and the last living link to the Carson Mine was lost.
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  13. #28
    us
    Jul 2012
    Albuqerque, NM / Durango, CO
    Garrett Infinium & Gold Bug II, Bazooka Super Prospector Sluice
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    In 1936 Corny was able to find the large spruce tree and also was able to dig up the ore sample Quintana had buried under its branches. They were exactly the same kind of ore that the story of Carson's Mine had described, oxidized brown quartz loaded with free gold. But he was unable to follow the jumbled description Quintana had told him where he could find the vein itself. This is where the story ends, as no further finds were made in the area that have been revealed to the general public's knowledge. Quintana's direction indicated a generally southern direction from the sheepherder's camp at the head of Twilight Creek.

  14. #29
    us
    Jul 2012
    Albuqerque, NM / Durango, CO
    Garrett Infinium & Gold Bug II, Bazooka Super Prospector Sluice
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    So there you have it. The vein is most likely at the head of Twilight Creek on the south side of the watershed. I would love it if anyone knows any further details.

    Getting up there is certainly a challenge. Twilight Creek empties into Lime Creek at around 8600 feet, and then the watershed meanders ever upward to the east north-east for close to 3 miles with an elevation increase up to 11,900 feet, with the surrounding terrain extending up much higher than that. To engage in a proper search would require people acclimated to the elevation and able to haul enough food, camping equipment, prospecting equipment, and metal detector gear up to 11,900, and then be able to carry on the search at even higher elevations. I have an idea where to look specifically, but have never gone up there to engage this in a serious way. I hope to do so soon however.

  15. #30
    us
    Jul 2012
    Albuqerque, NM / Durango, CO
    Garrett Infinium & Gold Bug II, Bazooka Super Prospector Sluice
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    Crow, I appreciate the search for Levi Carson, but I am not sure that is the correct Carson of the tale. No mention is ever made that he had a wife in the area, but would love to try to nail that down with certainty. There is mention he had family though, which he shared some info about his mine with, so it will be interesting to see what can be found.
    Last edited by UncleMatt; Mar 21, 2015 at 11:40 PM.

 

 
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