Sidebar by Steve Voynick
Mining – July 2006 – Colorado Central Magazine
The Last Chance Mine is only one of many sights along the Bachelor Historic Tour. When measured in terms of mining history, mountain scenery, and photographic opportunities, this 17-mile-long auto route through Creede’s mining district just might be the best in the West.
The tour route begins in downtown Creede and heads north into Willow Creek Canyon. One mile into the tour is the Creede Underground Mining Museum, where 600 feet of tunnel blasted out of rhyolite country rock houses 22 exhibits depicting early and modern mining equipment and underground mining methods.
A half-mile farther is one of western mining’s classic photographic opportunities — the massive ore bins of the Commodore Mine, set against a dramatic backdrop of sheer canyon walls. The Commodore, once Creede’s largest mine with 200 miles of underground workings, marks the south end of the Amethyst Vein.
Beyond the Commodore, the gravel road ascends a steep grade. In dry conditions, the family car, if it’s in good running order, should have no problem. But it’s not the place to teach Junior how to drive a stick shift.
A mile and a half beyond the Commodore, the route passes Nicholas Creede’s Amethyst Mine. The dumps and ore bins of the Last Chance can be seen 800 feet higher near the top of Bachelor Ridge.
The halfway point of the tour is a small bridge over West Willow Creek at Allen’s Crossing, where a spur road leads to the old Equity Mine. The South Loop of the tour route then ascends through pine forests to the marked turnoff for the Last Chance Mine. Returning to Creede, the tour route passes the Bachelor town site, the Bulldog Mine, and Creede’s historic cemetery.
Before setting out on this drive, stop at the Creede/Mineral County Chamber of Commerce on Main Street to buy (for $1) or borrow the excellent “Bachelor Historic Tour” guidebook which provides a mile-by-mile explanation of the old mines, town sites, and other points of interest.