Star Mine Preservation Project
As appearing in The Gold Nugget, March 2007
by Diane Dudley
Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Originally a Spanish conquistador discovery, the Taylor Park-Tincup Mining District was rediscovered in 1859 by young prospector James Taylor. Just 18, he walked into the area from the early settlement of Granite, and while searching for lost horses discovered silver-bearing minerals in float (loose rock). In 1873, the famous Hayden Survey discovered the rich silver deposits of Aspen, not far away. By 1878, the region had been obtained from the Ute indians and prospecting began in earnest. The Star Mine property was claimed in 1879, late in the history of the area, and after such well-known camps as Leadville and Aspen.

The mine finally achieved production in 1900 and continuously produced until 1973, making it the longest-lived mine in Colorado history. This longevity helped save the mine site from the scavenging and vandalism which have devastated most historical mine sites in the western U.S. The mine's remote location, high in the Elk Mountains near Independence Pass on the Continental Divide, also helped preserve it, making it hard for intruders to reach. The Star Mine produced silver and base metals from the prolific Leadville Blue Limestone, which was the main producing formation in both Leadville and Aspen. From 1974 until 1983, the property was optioned to Northgate Exploration Co., which finally abandoned the project, concluding that the property was not economic. It has been idle since.

During its long life, the mine has been associated with some of Colorado's historic mining personages, such as the great Winfield Scott Stratton, of Cripple Creek fame (and fortune!) who secretly financed the mine in the early twentieth century. Madame Esther LeFebvre, a European socialite, invested in the mine and then in exasperation over its poor performance, came out west, rolled up her sleeves, and took over its day-to-day operation. Later, John Lambertson, a Scandinavian immigrant laborer, ran the mine as a one-man operation for 46 years! Following Lambertson's successful run, the mine was taken over by a well-funded mining expert (and Colorado School of Mines professor to boot) who rather promptly, and ironically, failed.

Several of the mine buildings remain, including the shaft house, cook house, and bunkhouse. Although still standing, they have felt the ravages of many mountain winters and need some tender loving care. The Star Mine Preservation Committee is dedicated to its repair and restoration. Located on 110 acres of patented claims and other land, the mine is already county and state registered as an historic site. Located in an area of breathtaking scenic beauty, the mine site is a treasure and deserves all the help it can get.

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