A Gold Camp Called Summitville

Material Information

A Gold Camp Called Summitville
Series Title:
A Gold Camp Called Summitville
Russell, Sarah
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
Publication Date:

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Source Institution:
Auraria Library
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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A Gold Camp Called Summitville | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 9:34:06 AM] Home A Gold Camp Called SummitvilleA Gold Camp Called SummitvilleSubmitted by nwharton on 2-15-2013 04:50 PMAuthor: Richard C. Huston Publishing: Lake City, CO: Western Reflections Publishing Co., 2012. Reviewer: Sarah Russell Richard C. Huston has tackled one of the more complicated stories of Colorado mining in his new book, A Gold Camp Called Summitville Huston was born in Colorado and lived in the Monte Vista area for much of his life. By compiling mining history with the stories of the townspeople who lived and worked in and around the Summitville area, Huston presents a story rich in local color. Summitville, a mining district in Rio Grande County in southwest Colorado, is approximately five hours from Denver and less than fifty miles from the New Mexico border. Of the Summitville mining site near timberline in the San Juan Mountains, resident Arlie Stanger recollects, We used to joke that there were only two seasons at the campwinter and the Fourth of July (23). Despite the wind, snow, and bitter cold, miners turned this remote niche of Colorado into a highly profitable mining district. Bonanza days, as has been the case with many Colorado mines, were short-lived. Huston notes that gold was heavily mined starting in 1875 and between 1885 and 1887 the district produced more than $2 million in then existing metal prices. By 1883 Summitville was the third largest gold producer in Colorado (37). By 1890, the boom years were largely over. The story of Summitville did not end there. During the 1920s, new technology allowed for cyanide treatment of low-grade ores and waste rock to recover gold unrecovered by the inefficient technology of the 1800s. Summitville opened again for business, and according to Huston, the years 1926 through 1949 were Summitvilles most productive, at least in terms of jobs provided and the camps stability (82). Mining continued from the 1950s to the 1980s under various owners. In 1975 a roadside rock bypassed by miners for a century was scrutinized by a bulldozer operator and resulted in the identification of a 141.5pound gold nugget, the famous Summitville Gold Boulder, now showcased at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. In 1984 Galactic Resources Inc. of Vancouver, British Columbia, received permits to develop a large-scale open-pit operation to treat ores with cyanide. Soon after they reopened the mine, cyanide began leaking from the leach pads into the groundwater. A wastewater treatment plant was built and several measures taken to ensure that the contaminated water was isolated; however, it soon became clear that the amount of wastewater produced was more than the system could handle. Galactics cost-cutting on safety measures let cyanide leak into the Alamosa River. In 1992 the Environmental Protection Agency stepped in EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanNow, thats wrong! Some of these Japanese are citizens of the United States. Colorado Gov. Ralph Carrs response to Executive Order 9066 forcing Japanese into internment camps during WWII.


A Gold Camp Called Summitville | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 9:34:06 AM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us and declared Summitville a Superfund site, and the firm filed for bankruptcysticking taxpayers with a huge reclamation bill. Author Richard Huston focuses on the stories of the people and the conditions of life in the mining camps. The book would have benefited from some editorial work: his narrative does not flow well at times and information is often repeated. Huston often quotes entire magazine and newspaper articles. At books end, Huston skims over the reclamation process, which attracted international attention and gave the mining industry a black eye. He leaves the reader wondering what exactly happened at Summitville. In comparison, Gillian Klucass book Leadville: The Struggle to Revive an American Town provides a much more comprehensive look at the struggles between the mining community and the Environmental Protection Agency. Overall, A Gold Camp Called Summitville is a book that can engage readers with mining history explained simply. Gold mining and the life of the gold miner are often romanticized in western history but Huston presents a realistic look, not glossing over the unpleasant aspects of mining in Colorado. Reviewer Info: Sarah Russell is a graduate student at the University of Colorado Denver. For the past two years she has worked seasonally for the State of Colorado, Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety documenting the history of abandoned hard-rock mines for the Inactive Mine Reclamation Program. She and her husband Chris, who is engaged in the mining industry, have a three-year-old son, Jacob.