Colorado Fuel and Iron: Company Mines

Iron Mountain Iron Mine (Grape Creek)

Location: Fremont County, Colorado
Years of Operation: 1882-1882
Total Production (Tons): 801
The Grape Creek Iron Mine operated possibly only in 1882, according to the Mineral Resources of the United States, published in 1886. Iron Mountain was the largest source of magnetite iron found in Colorado at the time, and the CC&I had acquired the patent to the land. The Iron Mountain/Grape Creek deposit is first described by F.M. Endlich in 1873. This was after the patent for the land had been acquired in 1872.The Transactions of the American Institute of Mining Engineers  published in 1886 describes the Iron Mountain ore as the Grape Creek deposit, located at the head of Pine Gulch in Fremont County.

Grape Creek runs on the West side of the Wet Mountains, connecting to the Arkansas River just upriver from Canon City. After Grape Creeks leaves Lake DeWeese, it flows through a very narrow canyon and through 22,000 acres of wilderness study area. This canyon was the route Zebulon Pike and his men chose in 1806 in their search for the Red River, which led them up to the Wet Mountain Valley. The terrain is breathtakingly rugged and has resisted any attempt by man to be fully tamed. In 1881, the Rio Grande Railway built a line up along Grape Creek to gain access and the Silver Mines around the Wet Mountain Valley and Silver Cliff (Westcliffe became a town because the train tracks stopped a mile West of Silver Cliff). In addition to the difficult terrain and the narrow-cliff like sides of the canyon, Grape Creek was prone to flash flooding. The line was washed out in 1884 and then again 1889. The Rio Grand Railway abandoned the route in 1890. The original plan  it seems was to build a line from Iron Mountain down Pinon Creek Canyon to Grape Creek, only about 4 1/2 miles long.  The ore was carried by wagons to Canon City, even though as stated previously, the mine was probably to rely on the abandoned branch of the Rio Grande Railway.

Note: This history was compiled entirely by Megan Hedberg and does not rely on any information from either H. Lee Scamehorn or by research done by James Copeland or R.W. MacCannon.

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