Scenic USA - Colorado

Red Mountain

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Red Mountain - Grand Mesa Uncompahgre National Forests, Colorado

Photo by Roger Gillette
Inset photo by Marilyn Porter

     Red Mountain, pictured here, has lost its signature reddish hue to an early autumn snowfall. Located halfway between Silverton and Ouray, Colorado, Red Mountain tops the 11,000 foot mark. This elegant member of the San Juan Mountain Range once spawned two towns of the same name, a point of contention for years. Showing similar qualities as its northern Rocky Mountain neighbors, the Maroon Bell Peaks, Red Mountain usually lives up to its name. These huge granite outcrops, once covered by a layer of sedimentary rock, have been chiseled down to their core of igneous and metamorphic rock. The distinct shades of red or maroon colored rock occur from the imbedded iron which has oxidized on the surface. Known as hematite, this common mineral form of Yankee Girl Mine - Red Mountain Mining District, Colorado iron oxide was used for permanent coloring, and particularly in ancient drawings, medicine pouches, and related spiritual uses.
     Here in the Red Mountain Mining District on Highway 550, known as the Million Dollar Highway, Colorado travelers will find a scenic overlook above the Idarado Mining Complex. From this vantage point, sightseers will enjoy views of Red Mountain and also one of the most photographed mines in Colorado. Today's abandoned Yankee Girl Mine was once one of the most profitable silver mines in the United States. As it turns out, prospector John Robinson discovered a rare vertical shaft or chimney of solid ore, producing an average of 88 ounces of silver per ton of ore. In 1883, the Yankee Girl joined the Robinson and Orphan Boy mines, totaling 25 miles of interconnecting tunnels. Near the end of the 19th century, the mine sold for $125,000 (about 2.5 million in today's dollars).

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