Aspen: 4th of July Whistle Blowers

Talk about living history! Put on a hard hat and travel inside the earth like miners of western lore did over a century ago, while on a tour of Aspen’s historic Smuggler Mine, where the world’s largest silver nugget was found.

Though many may forget, Aspen first gained notoriety not as a celebrity ski town but as a world-class silver mining town. In fact, Aspen was one of the country’s largest mining towns, second only to nearby Leadville. In the 1880s through the mid-1890s, Aspen’s population and mining harvests grew at a rapid rate. The introduction of Denver and Rio Grande Rialroads in the late-1880s particularly aided the business of ore. These were the “boom” times. Though the boom days certainly flickered out, the high point for Aspen came through a coveted find in the town’s Smuggler Mine, located in Smuggler Mountain, northeast of town proper. In 1894, the world’s largest silver nugget was harvested from Smuggler Mine. The nugget, 93% pure silver, wieghed in at 2054 lbs. That’s just over a ton of silver!

Over a century later, while the mine may no longer be harvesting precious ore, tours of Smuggler Mine, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, are available to the curious public. Tours start at the mine office (110 Smuggler Mine Road, Aspen) and visitors, equipped with hard hats and miners’ lights, travel some 1200 feet into the earth in yellow ore carts, just as miners did so many years ago. Reservations are a must for these expeditions. Call Mine Tour Information at (970) 925-2049 to make reservations.