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On Walkabout On: The Vindicator Trail

Basic Information

  • Name: Vindicator Trail
  • Where: Victor, Colorado
  • Length: 2 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • More Info: Trails of Gold website

Map of the Trail:

Narrative

After finishing our beautiful drive up Gold Camp Road from Colorado Springs my family and I decided to drive through the gold mining communities of Victor and Cripple Creek before heading back to the Springs.  From Gold Camp Road we took Highway 81 towards Victor and shortly before reaching the mining community we noticed a turn off to a short hiking trail.  We found out that this trail was part of a larger network of trails in the area called the Trails of Gold:

The Vindicator Trail is a 2 mile loop hike through the Vindicator Valley where some of the more prominent gold mines in the area once operated:

The first historic mine that the trail goes by is the Theresa Mine:

The Theresa Gold Mining Company was founded in 1895 and over the years changed ownership multiple times.  From 1915 to 1930 it sat idle until a group of lessees did a retrofit of the mine to continue mining operations.  They were able to get the mine shaft to reach a depth of 1,620 feet.  In 1934 a fire ended up destroying the mine that was made of wood at the time.  The lessees then decided to reconstruct the mine using metal and steel.  This is something that really makes the Theresa stand out from other historic mines because most of the other mining structures are all made of wood.  The mine remained in operation off and on until 1961 when it was finally closed for good.  In the 1980’s and 1990’s action were taken to stabilize the mine for preservation like other mines in the area.   During its lifetime the Theresa is estimated to have harvested $2,500,000 worth of gold from the ground.

Just passed the Theresa Mine was this outhouse:

Whenever people were using this outhouse they sure had quite the view of the mining town of Goldfield down below:

The town of Goldfield was established by the Portland Gold Mining Company as a location closer to their mine than Victor that lied over the nearby hill.  By 1901 Goldfield had several small businesses, two newspapers, and a population of 3,000 people.  Besides a nice view of Goldfield from the outhouse there was a beautiful view of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains towards the southwest:

As I continued down the trail the hill sides reminded me a lot of what I saw outside the gold mining community of Bendigo in Australia where everything was dug up and scraps of metal could be seen littering the surface:

Something to be very careful of and the reason why there are signs warning people to stay on the trail is that there is still a number of holes from old mines present throughout the walk:

The next mine the trail comes to is made of wood unlike the Theresa Mine:

This mine was called the Anna J. Mine which was part of the Golden Cycle Mining Company that was founded in 1895.  The mine remained in operation until 1947 and records show that by 1900 that it had mined $1,500,000 worth of gold from the ground.  Over time many mines in the valley were consolidated into the Vindicator Consolidated Gold Mining Company in 1915 and then the United Gold Mines Company in 1922.  The company created one major shaft to connect all their mining properties into one operation.  To do this the company built a compressed air facility that powered the various drills and hoist that were at the heart of the mining operation.  These concrete ruins are all that remains of this compressed air facility:

It is estimated that the consolidated mining company mined about $23,000,000 from its properties.  From here the trail continues down into the Vindicator Valley where the remains of other old mines are backdropped by the current massive mining operation on the mountain:

Another ruin of interest was this powder magazine to store explosives:

There are a number of ruins of small mines located on the bottom half of the loop trail:

I am sure all the miners from long ago would have a hard time imagining the scale of the gold mining operations on the mountain today considering all the huge dump trucks that can be seen driving up and down the mountain throughout the hike:

Conclusion

It takes about 45 minutes to complete the walk and it is an interesting history lesson into the mining past of the area.  In fact the trail was interesting enough that I am planning to take another day trip up to Victor and Cripple Creek just to complete the rest of the Trails of Gold.  All the trails are similar in length to the Vindicator Trail and appear to really offer further insight into the history of the area along with providing some great views of the surrounding country side.

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