Colorado Fuel and Iron: Company Mines

Anthracite Coal Mine

Location: Gunnison County, Colorado 
Years Of Operation: 1882-1908 
Total Production (tons): 788,363


The Anthracite coal mine, also known as Ruby, was one of only a few significant sources of Anthracite coal in the US outside of Pennsylvania. It was opened by the Anthracite Mesa Coal Company in 1882, and the land was leased by one of CF&I's predecessor companies, the Colorado Fuel Company, in 1884. It was located about 4.3 miles northwest of Crested Butte in the central part of Gunnison County at an altitude of 10,000 feet above sea level. This property was called the "highest coal mine in the world," and operations were limited to around six months out of the year because snow frequently blocked the Denver and Rio Grande's narrow gauge line to the area. [1] The town of Anthracite included a Colorado Supply Co. store, managed by M.P. McDermott, at the site from 1893 until the mine’s closure fifteen years later, which housed a revolving library of books and periodicals. McDermott was also responsible for running a boarding house for the mine employees, and the company provided a 90-day “summer school” program for the miner's children. 

Anthracite coal is the purest, hardest, and highest quality coal available. It burns very hot and very clean, which made it ideal for heating homes before the widespread availability of natural gas. 

The mine had a drift opening on the side of the mountain with a three or four foot seam of anthracite coal. From the portal, an 1800-foot, minus 45 degree inclined tram took the mined coal to a breaker building. The hoist was operated by steam and there were two cars or skips with a balanced hoisting arrangement. The sized coal was taken by the narrow gauge Denver & Rio Grande Railroad to Gunnison where it connected with the main line. 

The Colorado Fuel and Iron Company became the owner and operator of the mine at the time of consolidation in October of 1892 when the Colorado Fuel Company was acquired. The last production from the mine came in 1907 and the operation was closed in 1908. During the life of the mine, there are two sets of production figures that have been found. According to Jackson, the following was the production:
Mined by CF Co.               from 04-25-1884 to 04-01-1888                   No Record
Mined by CF Co.               from 04-01-1888 to 10-31-1892                   240,195.05 tons
Mined by CF&I Co.            from 11-01-1892 to 12-31-1906                   548,108.10 tons
Total                                                                                                        788,303.15 tons
However, later figures give the total mined tonnage from the mine as 772,363 tons including the predecessor company production of 240,195 tons and this is the figure now used in the summary. There is no record that any of this coal was used in the production of coke at the Crested Butte coke ovens. It was a premium product for domestic and commercial customers. In 1902, there were 60 miners producing an average of 5,000 tons/month of coal with the demand more than supply.

The mine superintendents during CF&I’S operation of the mine were as follows:
H.C. Wheeler 1892-1894                William Gordon 1900-1903
C.A. Myers    1895-1896                George Shields  1904
John Evans    1897-1899                J.H. Funder        1905-1908

[1] H. Lee Scamehorn, Pioneer Steelmaker in the West (1976), 78. 

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