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Barnes City – A Scam on Hayden Creek

Barnes City, circa 1904, at the northern end of Hayden Creek Pass. Photo courtesy of the Coaldale Community Schoolhouse.
Barnes City, circa 1904, at the northern end of Hayden Creek Pass. Photo courtesy of the Coaldale Community Schoolhouse.

By Mike Rosso, with help from Barb Snyder and the late Bill Parks.

The small mining town of Barnes City, formerly located off Hayden Creek Road near Coaldale, was reportedly named for an Englishman named Noah E. Barnes who came to the U.S. to strike it rich. He brought with him his wife and three grown children, one of whom, S.F.E. Barnes, was married at the property in 1904 and served as treasurer for his father’s corporation.

Barnes formed the Montezuma Gold Mining and Milling Corporation in June, 1901 with a partner, George Melville Boynton. They intended to purchase 26 mining claims known as the Montezuma Group of Mining Claims in the Hayden Creek Mining District. Rumor has it that Mr. Barnes and several partners salted a nearby mine with high-grade ore from mines in Cripple Creek in order to obtain money from rich English investors. Tax records confirm later financial problems for the corporation. He was eventually caught, and spent many years in the Colorado State Penitentiary in Cañon City, and is thought to have died there, according to research done by the late Coaldale resident Bill Parks. Another rumor has Noah Barnes moving to California to start a similar “venture.”
A salted mine is one in which worthless or low-grade ore was shot with a wad of high-grade ore to give the false impression of a rich ore body. The rich ore was supposedly loaded into a shotgun by Barnes and fired into the ore body.

Some reports say the town may have had as many as 300 structures at its peak and was promoted by Barnes as a resort area with a dance hall, picnic areas and horse races, and was a popular spot for miners, cowboys and locals to celebrate Independence Day.
Mr. Parks recalled the town looking similar to what it did in the photo above when he was in grade school in the 1930s, and that many residents of Coaldale just took the buildings without permission after Mr. Barnes left. He recalled his own father, Finis Parks, putting a cabin on skids consisting of two long poles, and dragging it all the way to the Kiernan Ranch in Coaldale with a team of “stout horses.” That cabin was used for many years at the Kiernan Ranch (also, known as the “Parks place” because Finis had rented it for nearly 50 years. It was torn down in January, 2000 by new owners). The teacherage next to the old Coaldale Schoolhouse supposedly came from Barnes City.
What remains now on the property are stone retaining walls, a cement porch, stone cellar, a dam for a small pond, a cistern on hill, lots of broken glass, nails and tin cans; however all are on private property.
Thanks to the heroic efforts of fire crews, the Hayden Pass Fire did not reach Barnes City.