Horseshoe Mountain, for which Horseshoe Mining District was named, has one of
the most perfectly formed glacial cirques on earth. Miners were keen observers
of rock formations but few knew about the geological events that shaped them. As
snow collected, it compressed to ice in mountain hollows. Gravity drew the
mounting mass down slope, through valleys previously cut by streams. When these
glaciers melted, an amphitheater-shaped point of origin remained, often with an
alpine lake at its base. The Horseshoe Cirque stands as a textbook example of
Felix Leavick bought the Hilltop Mine in 1892 and started this town that
bears his name. Four years later, the Denver, South Park and Hilltop Railroad
laid tracks to the mill that anchored the town which only had one street. Along
that street, a store, post office, cookhouse, school and a few cabins clustered.
The Hilltop Mine operated off and on until about 1920, but the shutdown of the
railroad in 1923 cemented the demise of Leavick.
A common mine laborer could expect long hours, many dangers and low pay. For $1- $3/day, including board, a miner toiled in dank and dusty tunnels. He worked in constant danger from falling rocks or cave-ins, from explosions caused by the buildup of gases in unventilated tunnel shafts, and from fires or snowslides that could trap him inside the mine.
This is what draws us to explore these old places....
|Looking down into Horseshoe||Mine ruins|
|West View toward Turquoise Reservoir|
|Well over 13,000 ft||Going down!|