I live in a fabulous place. A place where incredible hikes, beautiful mountains, a rough and tumble history, and good people pave the way for a fantastic quality of life.
The last few weeks have been c-r-a-z-y with a capital “C”, but I finally had a day off (two actually…hooray!) to get out and embrace the great outdoors. Monday was spent bombing around Peru Creek
, “off-roading” in Lady Liberty, and exploring the remnants of the old Pennsylvania Mine
Located along a Peru Creek jeep trail, the Pennsylvania Mine operated from the 1870s to the early 19th century, with men from all over the country moving west to mine for gold, silver, and a variety of other metals. While the mine’s heyday ended in the early 19th century, a wide variety of buildings and artifacts from that period are still in existence. 4-wheelers, jeeps, and avid hikers are frequent visitors to the area, as the skeletons of the buildings, cars, pulley systems, and boilers can easily be considered to be engineering marvels.
Unfortunately while the old Pennsylvania Mine is spectacular example of how mines operated in the Wild West, its continued existence is wreaking havoc on local rivers. For the last century or so, the mine has been spewing toxic chemicals into the Snake River
and Peru Creek. The issue is that the Snake is a tributary that empties into the Dillon Reservoir
, a major water supply for the Front Range
. These chemicals which include aluminum, cadmium, copper, iron, lead, manganese and zinc, can cause major health problems in humans and animals.
That said, EPA has passed a bill allowing for engineers to come in to shut off the source of the pollution. The clean-up is expected to take two to three years and is estimated to cost $3 million. From what I understand, it seems that ground water will be caught and redirected above the mine site so that it does not move through the contaminated portions of the mine. From there, these contaminated portions will be sealed.
It will be interesting to watch the progress from start to finish. In the meantime if you’re in the area, get your booty up to the Pennsylvania Mine and catch a glimpse of Colorado’s rich mining history.