THE MOUNT CHAMPION MINE AND MILL
The Mount Champion Mill is situated about sixteen miles by rough four-wheel drive
road up Half Creek Gulch from Leadville. The Mount Champion Mine and Mill properties is made up
of 92.97 acres containing twelve claims called The Dick Turpin and The Theodolite.
In the late 1890's the Mount Champion Mine proved to be the major producer of ore. The ore that was
processed was white quartz, which imparts a yellow color to some of the ore. The ore that was
processed from the mine contained iron sulfide, gold, silver, lead, copper, pyrite and galena.
Mount Champion constructed a 6,100-foot tramway, which is believed to be one of the first to pass
over the crest of a ridge with an altitude of 13,600 feet at its highest point. Towers were
constructed of wood, varying in height and design. These towers were built together to make a
long curve for the cable. Electricity brought from Leadville powered the tram, equipped with
forty-two buckets, each weighing about 600 pounds and capable of holding nine cubic feet of the
precious ore. The high grade ore was shipped directly to the Smelters in Leadville.
Mount Champion eventually stopped operations because the cost of shipping ore to Leadville
Smelters proved to be unprofitable. (The mine was closed down late in 1919, according to the
Report on Mineral Resources of the United States.)
In 1921, Elmer Paustian obtained a contract from the owners and reopened the mine. Eight men
were employed in the operation. In 1940, problems arose in the lease agreement, forcing
Paustian to stop.
At present Mount Champion Mine and Mill are decaying before our eyes. The structures are
being pulled out of balance by the weight of the tramway cables and with time, Mount Champion
is sure to be doomed.