Victor, Colorado may have a much smaller population than it did during the gold boom days of the turn-of-the-20th-century, but it’s still a very active gold mining town. To find the evidence, you need look no further than the very big hill that looms over Victor — a mountain that’s slowly being hauled away, one truckload at a time.
Click the image to view a larger version.
The best place to appreciate this massive mining operation is at the American Eagles Mine Overlook. The Cripple Creek and Victor Gold Mining Company thoughtfully provided this viewpoint, located in the middle of the strip mine. It’s also at an elevation of about 10,750 feet, so you’ll get a good view of just about everything in every direction.
[tmt_info =””]If the view from the American Eagles Overlook isn’t enough to satisfy your inner prospector, you can take a tour of the mining operation. The 2 1/2 hour tours begin at the Lowell Thomas Museum in downtown Victor. The price is a reasonable $5 per person. Get all the details here.[/tmt_info]
The American Eagles Overlook preserves a few historic buildings, which were in use around 1895.
The collection of buildings includes the shifter’s office (used by the shift supervisors), superintendant’s house, and a blacksmith shop.
You could easily walk into these buildings, but of course, you’re not supposed to — and it would be quite dangerous. Do you really want to trust that floor?
In 1902, the vertical shaft below this headframe descended 1,540 feet into the earth, making it the deepest mine shaft at that time. It wasn’t until 1936, when the shaft reached depths of 1,900 and 2,100 feet, that miners made a rich strike. The steam-powered hoist pulled the cables that raised and lowered miners and equipment into the ground.
The shaft is now sealed, so you can walk safely around and underneath the headframe.
From the top of the hill, you have a limited view of the most dominant mountain in this part of Colorado: Pike’s Peak.
Travel just a short distance down the road, and the Pike’s Peak view is even better. Even though the top of the mountain was shrouded in clouds during my visit, it was still a better view than I got during my 2005 visit to the American Eagles Overlook — at which time, I barely saw any of Pike’s Peak.
On the way up to the viewpoint, and back down, you’ll cross over a much larger road used by the huge rock haulers at the strip mine. Be sure to watch the Drivelapse video, and you’ll see one of them cross directly in front of my car. Also on the way down, you can stop to see another headframe.
[tmt_info =””]You’ll probably see a sign that leads you to the American Eagles Overlook, but if you don’t, here’s how to find it. From downtown Victor, go uphill to Diamond Avenue, and turn right. Just east of 2nd Street, a road splits off to the north. It has several names: Rangeview Road, CR84, and Stratton Road. Follow it uphill until you reach the viewpoint. If you park in the lower area, you’ll have to climb some stairs. A sign suggests that the upper parking area is for handicapped visitors only, but if you’re the only one there, you should be okay to park in the upper lot.[/tmt_info]
Here’s a time-lapse dash-cam video of the drive around Victor, then up to the American Eagles Mine overlook: