Lost Mine

Useful Information

Location: Tours start at various points, please check when booking. The Adobe Casa, 1147 E Street, Salida. Rock Shop, between Salida and Buena Vista. Earth Treasures, downtown Salida. The Salida Museum, next to the Chamber of Commerce on Hwy 50.
Open: 15-MAY to SEP daily 10, 14.
OCT to 14-MAY Fri-Sun 10, 14, weather permitting.
Fee: Adults USD 45, Children (5-12) USD 29.
Classification: MineManganese Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: T=10 °C, A=2,590 m asl.
Guided tours: D=3 h.
Address: Lost Mine, 1147 E Street, Salida, CO 81201, Tel: +1-719-221-6463, Tel: +1-719-539-7786, Fax: +1-719-539-2200. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


01-JAN-1916 claims located by Mr. W. H. Boyer, of Salida, and Mr. E. Frankenberry, of Canon City.
1918 with the end of World War I demand for alloying metals fell.
1919 mine closed.
2005 opened to the public.


Most of the area is composed of Precambrian rocks like slate, schist, gneiss, and quartzite. On top is a massive layer of Carboniferous limestone, forming a sort of isolated island. The limestone is covered by sedimentary rocks of much younger age. The gold occurs in an irregular bed of ore between two beds of limestone forming pockets and varying in thickness from 30 cm to 1.20 m. All the rocks have undergone considerable folding, the ore beds dip to the east at angles between 20° and 40°.

The ore consists of pyrolusite (MnO2) and psilomelane (Ba,H2O)2Mn5O10 with mixtures of wad. Wad is an old mining term for any black manganese oxide or hydroxide mineral rich rock. The amounts of and proportion between the various minerals change. There are areas in the ore which are of mineralogic interest. The ore is crystalline and fibrous and little cavities are lined with botryoidal (grape-like lounded) psilomelane. There are also small nests of white calcite. But most of the ore is granular and soft.

The ore is a result of the weathering of manganese rich minerals of the surrounding metamorphic rocks. The material was carried out and redeposited, probably in a small depression, a relatively small shallow basin. The irregulat contact with the limestone is probably the original surface of the rock as it was formed by erosion. Then this surface was filled with new material, a classic unconformity.


The Lost Mine was mining a layer of manganese rich ore, which would normally categorize it as a manganese mine. But while the ore had between 20% and 40% manganese, it had only very small amounts of silica, phosphorous and sulphur, which were below the limits set by the customers. The manganese was used in the smelter by the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company, for the manufacture of steel.

The location of the mine is very remote, and the trail is not suitable to normal cars. Visitors are collected at the base of the mine operator, at the Adobe Casa, 1147 E Street, Salida, and at various other locations, mostly rock shops and museums at Salida. Then the ride on a 4WD up to the mine follows. The Minemobile is a socalled Pinzgauer, a rugged six-wheel-drive 14-passenger truck manufactured in Austria by Steyr Daimler Puch. This truck was used by several European military forces. On the way various geologic features are seen, like the Wellsville Fold and the Wellsville travertine quarry, which actually quarried marble, not travertine. Then there are lime kilns from the 1890's. The valley offers views to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, which are more than 4,200 m high.

The mine is in its original state as it was mined, with the original discovery cut, two tunnels, three drifts and a stope. The tour shows huge layers of manganese ore with calcite crystals and many other complex silicates and carbonates. The end of the tour is a crystal coated cavern with gypsum and calcite crystals that glow under ultraviolet light.

The mine was opened during World War I when manganese was important for war production. After the end of the war prices for manganese and tungsten plummeted. The mine closed in early 1919 and was closed for 85 years. Because of a realignment of the nearby county line, Fremont County lost the mine as it now belonged to Chaffee County. Ans as a matter of fact it had really been lost, when people looked in the wrong county. This is why it was called Lost Mine. It was rediscovered by Monty Holmes, a Salida rockhound and builder. He bought the property and cleaned out the waste rock with the help of three retired miners he hired. The timbering was checked and repaired and an underground lighting system rigged. After an inspection by the Colorado Division of Mines it was approved for public tours and opened to the public.