The Old Hundred Mine offers one-hour tours that take visitors in train of mine cars on a trip one-third of a mile into Galena Mountain, where guides tell about this mine and others in the Silverton area, show a gold vein and crystal formations in shafts used by early miners, and demonstrate mining equipment.
The Old Hundred Mine was staked by three German immigrant brothers, Otto, Gustave, and Reinhard Neigold, starting 1872 with the Number Seven vein. The Neigolds spent the next 30 years prospecting and developing veins on Galena Mountain, including the 1898 claim Old Hundred.
The brothers formed the Midland Mining Co. with plans to drive a long tunnel at the base of the mountain to tap rich veins inside for their Old Hundred Mine, and they succeeded in finding good-quality gold ore in the highest vein, the original “Number Seven,” at an elevation of 12,750 feet. They also created a town called Neigoldstown along the Stony Pass road that led to Silverton.
The Neigolds, however, lacked the resources needed to develop the mine and sold it in 1904 to the Old Hundred Mine Co., which made annual payments to the brothers for four years and invested more than $1 million to drive a new tunnel into the Number Seven vein, build a stamp mill where the ore was crushed and gold and other minerals were removed, develop an aerial tram to take ore to the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, and erect the Old Hundred Boarding House 2,000 feet up the mountainside.
The new company produced 15,000 ounces of gold from the Number Seven vein between 1904 and 1908, and the gold was shipped to the Denver Mint. It started a new “Mill Level” tunnel at the base of the mountain, but the good-quality gold ore ran out by 1908, and the company, which had never made a profit, defaulted on its debt to the Neigolds and gave the property back to the brothers. They lost it to back taxes in 1924.
New companies worked on the mine in the 1930s but with little luck. In 1967, the Dixlyn Corp., a Texas oil company, took a lease on the mine and completed the Mill Level tunnel nearly a mile into the mountain. But Dixlyn gave up in 1973, after spending $6 million and adding five miles of tunnels. The quality of the gold ore was too low for the mine to be successful. The mine buildings were torn down and the equipment was sold.
The 1904 boarding house can be seen at 12,000 feet on the face of Galena Mountain. The three-story wood building once housed 40 miners, who reached it by taking the same aerial tram that transported loads of ore off the mountain. The building was in danger of collapse in 1999, but a consortium of government and nonprofit groups brought in workmen by helicopter to restore the roof and attach the building to the mountain with a series of cables. The building is privately owned and is not open to the public.
The underground temperature on the tours is 48 degrees, so sweaters and jackets are recommended. The mine can be reached by taking County Road 2 north out of Silverton and then turning onto County Road 2A. The trip is five miles, with the first two miles to Mayflower Mill paved and the final three miles on well-maintained gravel roads.