The Camp Bird Mine
Camp Bird mine was discovered by Tom Walsh in 1896, during exploration work to discover siliceous ore for his Silverton smelter. Two of the original claims, the Una and the Gertrude, had been worked for lead-copper-zinc ore, but when resampled by Walsh and Andy Richardson, showed a vein of quartz that assayed as high as $3000/ton in gold.
After making quite a fortune from the Camp Bird mine, Tom Walsh sold it in 1902 to an English consortium, Camp Bird, Limited. Tom Walsh earned more than $10,000,000 from the Camp Bird through working it himself, and from the sale and royalties.
In 1916, the 14 level tunnel was begun, which took 19 months to complete, when the Camp Bird vein was intersected 11,000 feet from the portal. In 1920, after exploration work on 14 level showed no great reserves of gold ore, Camp Bird, Ltd. shut down the mine. It was reopened in October 1925 by Camp Bird Leasing Company who worked the upper levels. In 1929, King Lease, Inc. took over operations and mined continuously until December 1956. At this time, Camp Bird, Ltd. took over the mine, and Camp Bird Colorado, Inc. was formed as a subsidiary.
In 1963, Federal Resources Corporation acquired the property, and incorporated Camp Bird Colorado as a wholly owned subsidiary. During the period from 1963 to 1967, some development and mining was done on the Camp Bird vein, but then replacement ore was found by drilling down into the Telluride Conglomerate adjacent to the Orphan vein. A shaft was sunk from 14 level near the 8572 drift down to the 21 level from 1968 to mid 1970. Replacement ore of mainly base metal sulfides were mined until flooding of 21 level in December 1977. A small amount of mining was done in 1981 on the 14 level Discovery ore shoot, and then in 1986 Camp Bird Ventures, a joint venture company, was formed to explore and develop areas of the Camp Bird vein. During this time, the Monument vein to the east was core drilled and, according to reports, high grade gold was found. When the drift was finally extended to the east to the Monument vein, no high grade gold was found, and the Australian partner in the joint venture pulled out of the partnership. The mine closed soon after, in the spring of 1990. Just a few months earlier, scheelite crystals had been found on one of the upper levels by a couple of miners. Collector's Edge Minerals contracted with Federal Resources to collect the pocket of scheelite crystals, with the help of a couple of Camp Bird miners. In the same area of the mine, the last high grade gold ore was mined, and interestingly enough, the ore contained light gray to white scheelite crystals, which show up mainly under black light.
Some collecting was done after the 1990 closure of the mine, when Tom Rosemeyer was overseeing the mine and reclamation efforts. For a few years, Tom Rosemeyer and Robert Stoufer, sometimes with the addition of another collector, would take the motor with a flatbed car attached back to the intersection of the Camp Bird vein on 14 level, and collect both to the east and to the west along the Camp Bird vein. They also hiked on 3 level east to the Monument vein workings, but found very little, and left after just a few minutes as the air was pretty thin that far away from the 3 level tunnel.
Currently (2007), 14 level has a partial cave-in just within the portal, with about 4 feet of water backed up behind it. The 3 level has an open tunnel, but the tunnel is gradually collapsing, as the ground is weathered. There is no collecting allowed underground, although signs at the 3 level dump for "No Tresspassing" have been removed.