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Last Chance Mine’s access disputed by neighbors

Brief by Central Staff

Mining – September 2006 – Colorado Central Magazine

The Last Chance Mine near Creede, featured in the July edition of Colorado Central, has run into some trouble with its neighbors.

The mine, owned by Jack and Kim Morris, allows visitors to collect specimens from the dump rock — some of it gorgeous “sowbelly agate” from the fabled Amethyst Vein. People pay for specimens, but are not charged to use a guest house, although donations are welcome.

It attracts 15 to 20 people a day, Morris said, during the short summer season. But that’s apparently too many to suit nearby landowners Paul Franke and Bob Wunderlich.

To quote from a Denver Post story that ran Aug. 8:

“The latest neighborhood tussle is over three trenches — 3 feet wide by 2 feet deep — that Wunderlich told commissioners he had cut across the road to the Last Chance to prevent flooding. Morris said the ditches kept people without four-wheel-drive away from the mine. The county allowed him to return the road to its original condition. Morris is suing Wunderlich for the cost, $881.”

Before that, Franke had “contested the county’s listing of the road used by all three landowners as a public right of way.” Franke contended that the public should not have access, which sent the county into a review of its public roads.

Mineral County Commissioner Zeke Ward observed that “Mr. Wunderlich and Mr. Franke would like to enjoy their properties in different ways than Mr. Morris. And it’s going to happen with more and more people all the time.”

A major factor is that lode mining claims, generally about 10 acres, were staked out to follow a vein, and surface terrain was a minor consideration. Nowadays, the claims have become rural home sites — and it’s not a way anybody would subdivide land now.