“Is anyone afraid of the dark?” Our group stood still. “Anyone afraid to admit it?” I thought about piping up. Too late. Mine foreman, Eric Kellegrew, switched the overhead lights off as we stood 1,1000 feet inside the Old Country Boy Mine in Breckenridge, Colorado. Lightly placing his hand over a flashlight, Eric demonstrated just how dim work conditions were inside the mine in the 1800’s. Seeing only by flickering candlelight, miners endured extremely challenging work conditions. But that marks only the beginning of the list.
Rats in the hundreds squirmed at the boots of miners. “They have a sixth sense,” Eric told us. If the rats ran out of the mine, miners followed.” Rats were used for their ability to detect air quality problems in the mine.
Several miners also eventually lost their hearing. After Eric turned on the hydraulic drill there was no questioning the intensity of the noise that carried deep inside the mountain during the ten hour work days. When miners weren’t using the drill, they used other techniques like single jacking and double jacking while standing in up to a foot of muddy water.
Taking a 45-minute tour of the Old Country Boy Mine allows you to experience the drastic conditions miners faced day in and out for a whopping 80 cents a day. The mine was established in 1887 but was shut down after loosing government funding when WWII ended. In 1994, two brothers restored the mine and chipped deeper into the mountain, making it an even more authentic way to experience Colorado’s mineral rich past. “Now we just mine for tourists,” Eric jokes.
While at the mine you can also pan for gold, learn what a blast monkey was, slide down the 55 foot ore shoot and explore the authentic mining equipment used in the mines hay day.
Old Country Boy Mine
0542 French Gulch Road
Breckenridge, CO 80424
*Tours wrap up for the season on October 26
Pricing: Adults $22.95
Children (4-12): $16.95