Monday, October 13, 2014


In perusing through some used geology books a couple of years ago, I came across a bookmark—a pay check dated 1939 and payable to Loren Huffman for work, I presume, on the Carlton Tunnel.  It was issued by the Carlton Tunnel Operations of the Golden Cycle Corporation for $61.13.  The book, a 1974 edition of Encyclopedia of Minerals, was certainly worth the price of $10.00 and the cancelled check was a serendipitous find.  That treat also encouraged me to do a little reading on the tunnel, something completely unfamiliar (the tunnel that is).
The Golden Cycle Corporation started operations in the Cripple Creek-Victor area in 1894.  It merged with Texas Gulf in 1976 to form the Cripple Creek and Victor Gold Mining Company—CC&V.  After several mergers and purchases, in 2008 AngloGold Ashanti became the sole owner of CC&V and Golden Cycle Corporation.  Permits have been issued for mining to continue until at least 2025.

Before the recent advent of open-pit mining, Cripple Creek-Victor was the home to several hard-rock underground mines.  As these mines were deepened water seepage became a major problem and therefore several drainage tunnels were constructed.  The Roosevelt Tunnel was the first of these major projects and was completed in the early 1900s.  It lowered the water table around some of the mines nearly 1500 feet.  The Carlton Tunnel was the last of the bunch and was completed in 1941 and drained water perhaps 3000 feet below the elevation of the Vindicator Mine.  As I understand the situation, World War II put a big blunt in the mining operations and the Carlton became inoperative shortly after it opened.
Vindicator and Lille mines from Battle Mountain. . Cripple Creek District. Teller County, Colorado. October 7, 1903.  Public Domain photo from US Geological Survey and F.L. Ransome.
A fascinating couple of statements appeared in the 1985 edition of the journal Economic Geology (Thompson and others):  Very near the short drift on the new vein was the terminus of the Carlton drainage tunnel. This tunnel was driven just before WWII to enhance the drainage of the deeper workings in the Victor area. At the entrance to the tunnel were two simple, swinging metal doors with a gap of a few inches beneath their lower edges and a small amount of water running under them. Looking down the tunnel, it was so straight that it was possible to see the portal, a star-like pinpoint of light over 6 miles away.”

Today, as I understand it, land owners associated with both the Carlton and the Roosevelt Tunnels are facing lawsuits due to discharge of nasty waters into Cripple Creek.  Environmental lawsuits have been filed by both the federal and state governments.  I do not believe settlement has been reached. 


Thompson, T.B., A.D. Trippel, and P.C. Dwelley, 1985, Mineralized veins and breccias of the Cripple Creek District, Colorado: Economic Geology v.80. As noted at: