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 Grand Island and Other Districts

Grand Island District

The Grand Island mining district of Boulder county was organized in 1863, by Samuel Conger and others. It takes its name from Grand Island, a beautiful mountain, surrounded by the waters of the North Boulder, containing an area of seventy-five acres, covered with luxuriant grasses and forests of mountain pines, which rises about 500 feet above a fine park (formerly Trannemaker's, now Hill's ranch), five miles from the main range, and fifteen miles from Boulder City. About one mile above the island the North Boulder, a considerable stream, furnishing superior water-power, escapes its mountain confines through a deep canon in a spur of the main range; here its waters divide, wind around the mountain, and again unite in the beautiful valley beyond.

Previous to the organization of the district, in July, 1862, Samuel Conger, a pioneer prospector and hunter, discovered, while elk hunting, the Conger lode, the first discovery of mining property in the district. Mr. Conger was the first white man who explored this wild mountain region, and from his adventurous explorations the richest silver mining district in Colorado, or the world, has been discovered and developed. About this time a shaft was sunk to a depth of eighteen or twenty feet on the Conger lode, and considerable ore taken out; this, however, was not removed, owing to the distance from reduction works. For the purpose of bringing out this ore, Wm. J. Martin, George Lyttle, Samuel Conger and others came into this district in August, 1869. Whilst ascending the mountain (now Caribou Mountain) on which the Conger lode is located, Mr. Martin discovered "blossom rock," which indicated their proximity to mineral deposits. The party halted, commenced digging, and soon opened a strong fissure vein, containing true crevice material, and every evidence of rich silver ores,' in large quantities. These were analyzed, found to be rich in silver, and this discovery was recorded as the Caribou lode, now the great silver mine of Colorado, a full description of which appears in the chapter on mines. Mr. Martin and his company continued working the mine during the fall of 1869 and the winter of '69-70, packing their supplies from Brown's ranch, about four miles distant, the nearest point reached at that time by a wagon road. The richness of these ores attracted the attention of miners in other districts, and the usual excitement, that follows the discovery of new and valuable mining property, took place. This was at its height in the summer of 1870, at which time three or four hundred hardy, adventurous prospectors were actively engaged in prospecting the entire district. Before the fall of the same year several hundred discovery claims were recorded. Among these many veins have already been sufficiently developed to establish, beyond a doubt, the existence of numerous rich silver mines in the belt of lodes that traverse spurs of the main range in this portion of Boulder County.

The Caribou Silver Mining Co, the former proprietors of the Caribou lode, and present owners of the east-half of the same; and preemptors of the site of Caribou City, was organized in 1870, with the following members:

J. Martin, George Lyttle, Samuel Mishler, Samuel Conner and John Pickle. These, with the exception of Samuel Conger, who sold out his interest to the others, still constitute the company. Under their direction the location for the city was chosen, and the survey made by Mr Burns in September, 1870.

Caribou City

Is situated in a small park or valley, and on the slopes of Caribou or Conger Mountain, two miles from the main range, near Caribou mine, twenty miles from Boulder City, and eighteen miles from Central and Black Hawk. The park and the slope of the mountain, previous to the innovation of civilization and mining enterprises, were covered with mountain grasses and forests of pine and spruce. These are rapidly disappearing, and in their stead shops, houses and hotels are springing up. Building progressed as rapidly in the fall of 1870 as was possible with the present supply of lumber, and there is now in the town limits at least sixty good, substantial buildings, and a population of nearly 400 persons, which will be doubled during the coming year. This remarkable mining camp, though near the main range, accessible at all seasons. Its elevation above the sea-level is about 9,000 feet, but the ascent from the valleys below is so gradual that good wagon roads are constructed without difficulty, and Caribou is now connected with Boulder City, Black Hawk, Central and elsewhere, by excellent roads, always in good condition for travel.

A careful examination of the mines, minerals and peculiar advantage and resources of Grand Island district has convinced us that ere long Caribou will be a mining town of considerable importance, and the district one of unusual wealth. The authorities of Caribou are the county officers of need to add here laboring men. Another peculiarity they have in common with mountain miners and prospectors, is hospitality. The latch-string of a miner's cabin always hangs out. He is ever ready to share his rough fare with the stranger, and a part of his blanket and the shelter of his cabin roof are never refused. Among the leading men of the town, and one in every way can petent and willing to furnish important information to visitors concerning the mining interests of the district, we take pleasure in mentioning Mr. Lee a member of the Territorial legislature.

The principal merchants of the town are Leo Donnelly. Caribou Street dealer in groceries and provisions, who commenced business in August 1870, first in a tent, but has now a substantial frame building.

Van & Tilney, groceries and provisions, who commenced business in July, 1870. This store is the pioneer store of the town, and their stock and building are in good condition.

Prescott W. Pierce, meat market; the first and only one in town up to date. This store was the first frame building in Caribou. Sears & Werley, proprietors of a first-class billiard hall, with three good tables. The building two stories, 24 x 60 feet, the upper rooms for offices. Maj. E. M. Beard, proprietor of a saloon and boarding-house, Idaho Street. Maj. Beard came to Caribou in September, and has erected and completed a good substantial frame building, 20 x 34 feet, doing most of the work himself.

Before this work will be issued there will, no doubt, be many more merchants in town, but those named above have on hand a sufficient supply of goods suitable for their trade, and are ready to supply any increased demand.


This embryo town is located in a beautiful park or valley, on Beaver creek, in Grand Island district, Boulder County, at the base of Caribou Mountain, about two miles from Caribou mine and city, sixteen miles from Central, and eighteen miles from Boulder City.

The organization of the town company was effected by Mr. Alfred Tucker, of Central, in August, 1870, and a survey and plat of the town was made in the same month. Suitable space was reserved for public buildings and grounds, and the balance placed at the disposal of settlers. To any person who will erect a good substantial frame building, a lot is donated, and already quite a number of residences are erected. The company is styled the Grand Island Lumber Co., with the following officers and trustees:

Alfred Tucker, president;
E. Sexton, secretary and treasurer;
Trustees: Alfred Tucker, John Anderson, J. S. Beaman, J. W. Daniels and Henry Deschner

The company have preempted, beside the town, a large tract of good timber land, and own a valuable ranch, formerly Orvis', a steam saw-mill, machine repair shop, and sash and door factory. Good wagon roads, constructed by the company, connect the town site with the main wagon roads from Boulder City, Central and Caribou. In the immediate vicinity several good lodes have been developed, which are yielding good pay; among these, the Sovereign People, Trojan and Boulder County. The situation and surroundings of Keysport make it a suitable and beautiful site for a town, and its central location, in one of the richest silver mining districts of the Territory, will no doubt eventually make it populous and prosperous. Mr. Tucker assures us the town will be considerably improved next summer, and it may be a rival of Caribou City.


This embryo city is located in a beautiful valley, on the Middle Boulder, in Boulder County, about three miles from the celebrated Caribou lode, the richest and largest silver mine in the Territory, if not in the world, seventeen miles from Central, and eighteen miles from Boulder City, on the main wagon road that connects these points. The town site comprises about 300 acres on the south bank of the river, and no more available or beautiful location for a city can be found anywhere in the mountains.

The Boulder supplies any amount of water-power, and superior mill-sites are abundant. The ground is level and fertile, and abundance of good lumber for building purposes and fuel surround the valley. The proprietor of this valuable town property, Cyrus Hurd, Esq., one of the leading millman of Gilpin County, will erect large reduction works at this place next summer, for the treatment of the silver ores of Grand Island district, which can be transported to this point at trifling expense. These alone will furnish employment for quite a population. As this valley is the only one of any extent near Caribou, no doubt Haddam will be eventually the supply town for this rich mining district. It may hereafter rival all of its namesakes in the Eastern States in wealth and population, and will most assuredly excel these in the grandeur and beauty of its scenery.

Rocky Mountain Directory & Colorado Gazetteer

Source: Rocky Mountain Directory and Colorado Gazetteer, 1871, S. S. Wallihan & Company, Compilers and Publishers, Denver, 1870.


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