Huerfano County, Colorado

Contributed by Karen Mitchell.
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Pueblo Chieftain 5-19-1991 - Grayback Just Never Panned Out - The Colorado mountains are scarred with thousands of old mines, and with rotting old buildings and rusty machinery which are all that remain of one-time bustling camps. One of these places was Grayback, which sits on a mountain of that name not far from the present La Veta Pass. The Grayback district was on land of the Trinchera Estate Company, whose rules were similar to those of the U.S. Government. The Trinchera company reserved the end extension of each lode, vein, ledge or deposit located. Articles in The Chieftain in 1900 kept readers informed of activity there along with a few pipe dreams. Initial reports stated that the scene of the principal strike was the Hidden Treasure owned by John Watson. Fine shipping ore had been piled up during the winter on several other claims. Rumors were rife that the Denver and Rio Grande would reopen the old Veta Pass narrow gauge to the top of the Grayback District and would connect with the standard gauge at Wagon Creek Junction. J.B. Scandlan reported, as he stopped in Pueblo for supplies, that he would plat a townsite on 80 acres at the mouth of Willow Gulch on the narrow gauge line. The town would be named Rossdale. According to Scandlan, five to ten persons daily were traveling on the D&RG to Wagon Creek and from there to Rossdale on a stage line. Then there was a letter from C.D. Bowman of La Veta, who apparently had been around for some time. He said that ore had not been shipped for several years, and that only competent prospectors should go there. It wasn't the place for an amateur. A Puebloan named Dan W. Brown made a visit, riding on horseback by way of the Greenhorn store five miles east of Rye to Badito and Gardner, then over Pass Creek Pass. He found nearly all men at the town of Russell were off prospecting. Brown did report that J.B. Sloane, a Kentuckian who came to Colorado in 1866, had spent 21 years on Grayback, and soon would send a carload of ore to a Pueblo smelter. Several Puebloans were interested, including F.T. Russell, superintendent of the Ebenezer Placer and Mining Co. After Brown's article was published in The Chieftain , there was nothing more. Some prospectors probably went up and dug a few holes, hoping to find the promise of enough ore to interest eastern capitalists. But after a summer of backbreaking work, they came back into town. And the next year they were off again to wherever the chances for a strike seemed to be the greatest; year, after year, after year.

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