Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine

Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine

9388 Highway 67, Cripple Creek, Colorado

In 1891 Mollie Gortner and her family moved to the Cripple Creek area of Colorado. Her son Perry, a surveyor had told Molly about a large herd of elk while surveying the Poverty Gulch area. Mollie headed up the gulch to see the herd. While taking a rest, being winded by the climb, she just happened to look down and saw something interesting in the rock below her. There was shininess to it, so she used a large rock and knocked a piece of it loose. To her surprise, what she found was a large chunk of gold in the quartz.  Mollie managed to hide the samples she had broken loose in her clothes, and made it down the mountain, past other prospectors along the way.

Mollie had become the first woman in the Gold Camp to find and lay claim to a strike in her name. In this day of age, it was very uncommon for any woman to have such a thing of value in her own name.

The Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine Tour has been open longer than any other gold mine in the nation. The earliest visitors traveled down the 1,000 foot mine shaft in an open or skip. You were guided by actual miners, by candlelight, and got to watch as actual miners extracted gold. Mollie found that the amount of town visitors was growing at a rate that interrupted the mining operations. She instituted a plan, and scheduled tours during the day, and the mining was operational at night.

Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine

flickr image by TheStegg

The gold mine continued in full operation until 1961. That was when the processing plant, the Carlton Mill, closed operations, and there was nowhere to have the ore processed.

Mollie decided that the Mine Tours were doing well, and at that point, bringing enough monies to keep the mine in repair, and safe enough to continue tours. She decided that if someday the processing plant were to re-open, they would be ready to bring up more ere. During the “down time”, the mine facility was upgraded to some modern equipment. Expansion of a second level to the tour, created enough room to eliminate the usual congestion of visitors. New displays and such we also added for visitors, and the underground tour was now a full 30 minutes long.

In 1951, the Last Tram-Air-Locomotive was built for Mollie’s mine. This has been re-conditioned, and is now in use as an underground train for visitors. Also, a special underground vault was built, and contains a large mineral display of gold ore for visitors.

Continued development and expansions of the mine have made it so the one hour tour of the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine now covers almost five

times the original distance of earlier tours.

Date posted: 4th May, 2013

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