What separates Aspen from most other mountain resort towns is its history. It all starts in the late 1800s with the Compromise Mine, which visitors can still tour.
- Discovery of silver here led to Aspen mining boom
- Tours available in July and August only
- Children younger than 5 are not allowed
Before Aspen became the Beverly Hills of the Rockies and a world-class ski resort, miners picked and poked their way into the surrounding mountains looking for the ultimate retirement plan – one big nugget of silver. Even though the silver boom went bust more than a century ago, the Roaring Fork Valley is still rich in its history and visitors can still get a glimpse of how things used to be by touring one of the local mines.
The Compromise Mine is where it all began. As prospectors crossed the mountains from Leadville in the late 1800s, it was the discovery of silver in the Compromise Mine that led to Aspen's silver mining boom. During July and August, visitors can hop into an 18-gauge tour car and let an electric locomotive pull them through a day in the life of a hard rock miner. The mine stretches 2,000 feet into the depths of Aspen Mountain.
Just up the road, the Smuggler Mine, which once produced a silver nugget the size of an African elephant, is one of the few silver mines in the area still pumping out ore. It was in this mine in 1894 that the largest silver nugget in the world – 2,054 pounds and more than 93 percent pure silver – was discovered. Smuggler Mine visitors can opt for a one- or two-hour walking tour spanning the mine's two levels.
110 Smuggler Mountain Road
Tours are available during July and August only at Compromise Mine.
Reservations are required. Call 970-925-3699 or 970-925-2049.
Children under the age of five are not allowed.