The Gold Fields of Colorado

Go Gold Prospecting, take highway 285 South from Denver to South Park, the Center of Colorado’s Gold Fields. This 900 square mile “park” at 10,000 feet above sea level, is surrounded by the highest peaks in the Rocky Mountains. This is where nature put the gold when the mountains were formed. This area was the home to many wild gold camps that are now ghost towns. Only the foundations and a few broken down buildings are visible to remind us of these boom towns. Alma, Buckskin Joe, Eureka, Saint Elmo and many others have fallen victim to over a hundred years in the harsh elements.

Park County Courthouse ca. 1880s, courtesy of the Park County Local History Archives
Park County Courthouse ca. 1880s, courtesy of the Park County Local History Archives

Fairplay is located in the middle of South Park and is the home of many incredible tales of the wild west. Take the time to visit the Fairplay Hotel, the site of the murder of Thomas Bennett gunned down by John J. Hoover in 1879. Hoover, by all accounts was barely tolerable when sober and was a virtual terror when “in the cups.” Hoover was arrested by Sheriff Ifinger and a year later was sentenced by Judge Thomas M. Bowan to 3 years in the State Penitentiary. The town was outraged and a lynch mob of 10-20 men broke into the jail and hung Hoover from the second story of the courthouse. The men left a hangmans noose and a note on the Judge’s desk saying “the town hadn’t been know for the past 20 years as ‘Fairplay’ for nothing.” The Judge promptly packed up and left, never to return.

The largest gold nugget ever found in North America was discovered in Breckenridge on July 3, 1887 by a man named Tom Groves. The single nugget weighed 151 oz and was about the size of an adult human head. It was dubbed Tom’s Baby because Mr. Groves paraded it around town like a new born child. Whatever happened to the nugget is still one of the great mysteries surrounding Breckenridge. Breckenridge is just over the hill to the West from South Park. Geologists have made the statement “These gold fields contain more gold than was taken out by all the mining done over the last 120 years.”


Why prospect around Fairplay?
Here are a couple of great reasons!

[pictures coming soon] 

On the left is a 3.91 oz. nugget and on the right is a 2.50 oz. nugget – Steve Rice found both nuggets metal detecting with a Gold Bug II near Fairplay, Colorado.