Mining History Association

Annual Conference June 9-12, 2016

Telluride, Colorado

The 2016 Annual Conference of the Mining History Association (MHA) was held in Telluride, Colorado, June 9-12, 2016.  Located in the beautiful San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado, Telluride is one of the most famous mining towns in the state. The historic town is also a National Historic Landmark District where preserved buildings recall the community’s gold and silver mining roots.  And there are still plenty of ruins and mine dumps in the surrounding mountains to fascinate mining history buffs.


In more recent times, the name “Telluride” includes the creation of a world-class ski area and the development of Mountain Village, a resort town that is integrated into the ski slopes.  In order to connect these two separate communities, an innovative and free gondola transports people from the box canyon where the historic town sits over See Forever Ridge to Mountain Village.  The views are spectacular. 


On the Telluride side, you see a magnificent mountain panorama of peaks and basins where the biggest mines were located.  On the Mountain Village side, the scene spreads out from the majestic Wilson Peaks and striking San Miguel River Canyon all the way west to the La Sal Mountains near Moab, Utah.  Without a doubt, the gondola ride is the most scenic public transportation system in North America.


During the conference, the Peaks Resort & Spa in Mountain Village was the venue for hosting registration, accommodations, dining events, and other social functions.  The nearby Telluride Conference Center was used for presentations all day on Friday June 11 and a half day beginning in the morning on Saturday June 11. 


In the Town of Telluride, the Telluride Historical Museum was the setting for a number of other activities.  These included a visit to the museum on Saturday afternoon June 11 where a special mining map exhibit was on display.  The museum also hosted  a historic walking tour of Telluride.


Since lodging at the luxurious Peaks Resort & Spa is a far cry from staying in an old miners’ boarding house, conference attendees are encouraged to make reservations as soon as possible in order to secure the special MHA room rate for an Alpine Vista room with one or two king beds.  Call 800-789-2220 or consult the web at  Included in the room charge is a membership to the spa that allows guests to use the indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, sauna, weight room, exercise equipment, and lockers.


Once you arrive at Mountain Village and the Peaks Resort and Spa, paying the daily valet charge is the cheapest and most convenient way to park your vehicle.


The conference program and registration form are available on this web page. Several
exciting social functions and field trips are planned to complement the program
sessions. The details are given below. Be sure to see additional meeting information in
the Spring 2016 issue of the Mining History News.


Travel Notes


The Four-Corners Region of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah is home to several of the most famous National Parks, Monuments, and Recreation Areas.  Conference-goers may want to spend a few extra days sight seeing before or after the conference.  Whether it is scenery, recreation, archaeological sites, steam trains, or mining history that you are looking for, you may need several visits to take it all in.  If you attended either the MHA conferences in Ouray (1999) or Creede (2009), you already know why the San Juan Mountains are called “the Switzerland of America.”


For most visitors to Telluride and southwestern Colorado, automobile travel is a must for at least part of the journey.  Major airlines serve Denver, Grand Junction, Albuquerque, and Salt Lake City.  The closest regional airports to Telluride are located in Montrose and Durango.  Rental cars are available in all these cities.  The driving time to Telluride from the Montrose airport is 1.5 hours and from the Grand Junction or Durango airports it takes 3.5 hours. If you would rather not rent a car, two Telluride limousine services are available to complete your journey. 









PROGRAM SESSIONS in the Telluride Conference Center


SOCIAL EVENTS Click (Click Below for Photo Galleries)


Welcoming Reception and Barbeque Buffet Dinner, Palmyra Deck,

Peaks Resort & Spa, June 9, 2016

Opening the 26th Mining History Association Meeting, Bill Culver, MHA President


Following the Barbecue: Rudy Davison introducing The Life of Bulkeley Wells, and

Steve Lee performing, Meet Bulkeley Wells-A Glamorous Man, Big Billie Ballroom, Peaks Resort & Spa, June 9, 2016


Awards Banquet, Legends Dining Room and Appaloosa Bar,

Peaks Resort & Spa, June 10, 2016

Featured Speaker: Duane Smith, The Life of a Mining Historian


Presidential Luncheon, Legends Dining Room,

Peaks Resort & Spa, June 11, 2016


TOURS AND FIELD TRIPS (Click Below for Photo Galleries)


Pre-Conference Tour: Colorado Uranium Country, June 9, 2016.  The main focus of this tour is the “Uravan Mineral Belt” including Naturita, Uravan, the Paradox Valley, and the Dolores River Canyon.  The tour is sponsored by the Rimrock Historical Museum. The tour will start at the Peaks Resort & Spa and drive down the San Miguel River Canyon due west of Telluride where in 1908 the Vanadium Alloys Company began mining radium and vanadium near their mill site called Newmire.  We will then proceed further west to where in 1910 the Standard Chemical Company began mining radium and then vanadium. 


Our Rimrocker guides from Naturita will take us to see historic and recent radium, vanadium, and uranium mines and ghost towns in the Uravan Mineral Belt.  Sites include the Rimrocker Museum in Naturita, Standard Chemical Company operations in the Paradox Basin, mines and a ghost town on Long Park Mesa, the Uravan town and mill site, and the unusual “Hanging Flume” in the Dolores River Canyon.  This field trip will be offered again on Sunday June 12.  (All-day tour, drive your own vehicle or carpool, box lunch will be provided)


View of Telluride from the gondola to Mountain Village. (Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.  Original photo by Terry Foote)

View of the Valley east of Telluride. (Left to right) Pandora Mill, Ingram Falls, Switchback Road, Bridal Veil Falls and Power Plant.  (Photo by Mike Kaas)

The Peaks Resort & Spa in Mountain Village.


 Telluride’s free public transport system.


Sheridan and Smuggler Mines in Marshall Basin, c1880s.


Mule train carrying hoist cable to the mines high above Telluride, c1890s.


Tomboy Mine high up in the Marshall Basin.

Early skiing on the Kids Hill, c1970s.



(Photos courtesy Peaks Resort & Spa, Telluride Historical Museum, and Homer Reid collection by his grandson Jon Larson unless otherwise attributed)


Tours of Historic Telluride,
afternoon, June 11, 2016.  Ride the free gondola from Mountain Village to downtown Telluride.  Transportation from the gondola base to the Telluride Historical Museum provided by Telluride Outside (or walk 8 blocks to the museum).  Tours start from the Museum.

• Visit the Telluride Historical Museum

• Special Historical Map Exhibit: Westward Migration to the Colorado Gold Fields with emphasis on the San Juan Mountains and Telluride.

Walking Tour of Historic Telluride


Post-Conference Field Trip No. 1, Bridal Veil Falls & Ames Power Plants, June 12, 2016.  This tour will include the Ames Hydraulic Power Plant and the Bridal Veil Falls Power Plant which were the first plants to prove the effectiveness of long distance power transmission and commercial use of alternating current (AC).  This tour is limited to two groups of 15 participants each due to the limited space inside the Bridal Veil Falls plant.  One group will visit the Bridal Veil Falls plant in the morning and the Ames plant in the afternoon.  The other group will reverse the sequence of the visits.  (All-day tour, Telluride Outside 4-WD vehicles will pick up both groups at the Peaks Resort & Spa, box lunch will be provided)


Post-Conference Field Trip No. 2, Driving Tour of the Historic Telluride Region, June 12, 2016.  This tour will visit the Idarado Mill area at the east end of the Telluride Valley, Ingram and Bridal Veil Falls, the Meldrum narrow gauge railroad tunnel, view of the Bridal Veil Falls Power Plant, Illium Valley Overlook of the Ophir Loop railroad grade, Ames Power Plant, the Trout Lake railroad ruins, the Ophir town site, and the ghost town of Alta. (All-day tour, Telluride Outside 4-WD vehicles will pick up participants at the Peaks Resort & Spa, box lunch will be provided)


Post-Conference Field Trip No. 3, Colorado Uranium Country Tour, June 12, 2016.  This is a repeat of the Pre-Conference Tour.  (All-day tour, drive your own vehicle or carpool, box lunch will be provided)


Note about touring the Tomboy Road.  Unfortunately, in early and mid-June, snow frequently blocks the historic Tomboy Road to the Bullion Tunnel, Marshall Basin, the Tomboy ghost town in Savage Basin, and Imogene Pass.



VISITOR INFORMATION (Accessed, 10 August 2015)

Colorado Tourism


Telluride Tourism Board


Telluride Historical Museum


Rimrocker Historical Society/Rimrock Historical Museum, Naturita


Colorado Geological Survey

Colorado Mining Association





Harriet Fish Backus, “Tomboy Bride,” (Boulder: Pruitt, 1969).

Rudy Davison, “Rudy’s View: A Driving Guide from Telluride to the Top of Imogene Pass,” (Durango; Rudy Davison, 2009).

Duane Smith, “Song of the Hammer and the Drill, The Colorado San Juans, 1860-1914,” (Golden: Colorado School of Mines, 1982).


Telluride Folio 57, Geologic Atlas of the United States, U. S. Geological Survey, (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899).  Accessed 7 August  2015, .


Frederick Leslie Ransome, “A Report on the Economic Geology of the Silverton Quadrangle, Colorado,” Bulletin 182, U. S. Geological Survey, (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1901). Accessed, 10 August 2015, .




Rudy Davison, General Chair

Duane Smith, Program Chair


Look what was spotted on the Uranium Country field trip.

The Welcoming Reception brought together old and new friends.

Our excellent jeep drivers made the trip up to the Bridal Veil Falls Power Plant a breeze.
It wasn’t just wet on the Telluride Walking Tour.

More time for food and fellowship at the Awards Banquet and Presidential Luncheon.

What is that wild critter encountered on the trip to the Ames Power Plant?
Can you find these “mystery photos” from the field trips? 

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