Tom Ross: Could there be more gold in Routt County than there is on reality TV?
December 3, 2012
Steamboat Springs — While the rest of the country was indulging in lottery tickets and vain hopes of winning the $579 million Powerball prize last week, I was thinking about improving my odds and prospecting for gold in the summer of 2013.
OK, I admit it, it's a crazy notion, but I might have a better chance of panning a few flecks of gold out of Gold Creek than I have of hitting the lottery. My problem is that I've picked up a touch of gold fever from the Discovery Channel's hit show "Gold Rush." There's something addictive about watching a gaggle of stumbling characters moving mountains of gravel to find a small jar of gold dust.
I actually resisted the temptation to settle onto the couch and watch the latest episode Friday night and did something productive instead. Sometimes I wonder why Discovery doesn't call the show "Fools Gold" after the lead characters in this reality show.
If this wasn't a television show beloved by advertisers, the prospecting careers of Dakota Fred Hurt and Todd “The Boss” Hoffman would be long over.
I'm not as greedy as those guys are; I just want to find a couple of bona fide flakes of Colorado gold in a Routt County creek next summer.
If you'd enjoy reading an intriguing account of a lost seam of gold in Routt County, it's hard to beat a story called "The Lost Mine of the Sierra Madres" at a website called The Geozone.
If you prefer to read a documented historical account of the gold play near Hahn's Peak in North Routt County, I can recommended the 2010 book about one of the earliest settlers of Steamboat Springs, "Beyond the Land of Gold: Tthe Life and Times of Perry A. Burgess" by Rebecca Valentine and Travis Thompson.
Burgess was a descendant of Mormon pioneers who experienced the California Gold Rush. Burgess headed west from Illinois in a later era. He skirmished with Sioux Indians on the Bozeman Trail, helped to establish the town of Boulder and had the wisdom to establish frontier banks.
He eventually settled along the Yampa River, where he continued a long habit of keeping meticulous diaries and frequently published entries in the Steamboat Pilot.
We know from Burgess' own diary and the diligence of Thompson and Valentine that in November 1885, Burgess along with A.J. Macky, F.A. Hinman and Edward Cody invested in a mine in North Routt.
"Macky and myself bought each an undivided one-fourth interest in Cody and Hinman's mining interest at Hahn's Peak for which we each paid $20,000," Burgess wrote.
Ultimately he sold his interests in gold mines and spent more time assaying other prospector's ore. There may have been more profit in that endeavor.
Like Perry Burgess, I don't have gold fever, but it sure would be fun to collect a tiny gold nugget and a few shiny flakes of something other than fools gold to keep in a vial on the kitchen counter.
If I succeed, you'll never hear about it.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com