20.66 Acre Unpatented Lode Mining Claim on Federal Land in the Historic Gunnison Mining District in Saguache County, CO

Mercury Alpine Mine Site


There is actually 3 mines that have been confirmed, historically, on this claim site, however really only one was able to be officially located. There has been one additional mine identified about 200 feet from the original Mercury Alpine Mine, but the third site within this claim has been illusive. The additional mines do appear to be partially blocked and hard to to officially locate. One has a huge headframe that needs a bit of work but appears to be the second unofficial locatable site.


This claim appears to have once had many processing building and bunk house with workshops and several smelters. It is located on the hillside west of the Cochetopa Creek. This particular district was mined previously for AU and base metals in and around 1937.

The GUNNISON MINING CO. discovered uranium in 1954 along the Los Ochos Fault within the site.  


We were able to dig up some history and found out that the last production run was in 1962 by the owner, Coltex Mining Co.

Principal fault zone trends N 75 to 80W. Cinnabar reportedly associated with pyrite and vein quartz in breccia in quartzite or silicified porphyry. 

The original reports stated that the workings were 90 to 110 ft long and 8 to 12 ft deep with another shaft being 100 ft long with a 45ft drift from the bottom according to a Colorado Geologic Survey from the time frame.



Elevation 7,683 feet

It is centrally located in the State of Colorado, 200 miles from Denver and 180 miles from Colorado Springs. Nestled 30 miles west of the Continental Divide in a sprawling valley, the elevation here is 7,703 feet.


The name of Gunnison honors the life of John W. Gunnison who first explored the region searching for a transcontinental railroad route. Mr. Gunnison stayed for only three days in 1853 and was never to return to the town and region that would bear his name. He met his fate at the hands of renegade Indians in Utah several months after leaving Gunnison. 

Gunnison Country first began to boom in the 1870s along with the rush of mining activity in Colorado. The late 1850s saw the start of people joining the hunt for gold in Gunnison county. Miners were in search of placer gold, but with the growing numbers of white men in the area, this brought conflict between the Ute tribes still around the county. 

At least several miners were killed by these tribes and this caused some of the miners to flee the area, caring more for their lives than potential gold bonanzas.

With the mining boom, Gunnison began to see an increase of people around the 1870s. Along with the miners coming in, ranchers and farmers were among the others that lead to the Ute people becoming forced out of the area. 

The mining camps in Gunnison and around the county reportedly produced about 130,000 ounces of gold from the beginning of the gold rush through 1959. At the start this was mostly from placer deposits, but the largest amounts were from a by-product of silver-lead ore. The largest deposits were found along the Taylor River, as well as the Tincup and the Washington Gulch districts.

The Ute Indians had been forced out of the area and many ranchers, traders and miners began to move in. Gunnison became the official seat of Gunnison County on May 22, 1877. In 1880 the railroad arrived, welcomed by not only miners but by the ranchers and farmers as well.

"In 1878 discoveries were made in the Gold Brick-Quartz Creek district (Henderson, 1926, p. 125), and the years 1879 and 1880 saw the first rush of miners to southeastern Gunnison County. 

Several towns, including Ohio City and Pitkin, were founded between 1878 and 1882. In the fall of 1881 the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad was completed to Gunnison and later to Crested Butte. 

During the next 4 to 5 years, ore was discovered over a wide area, and several smelters and concentrating mills were built. The most productive years for gold mining were between 1908 and 1913. The period 1934 through 1942 was one of increased activity, but from 1943 through 1959 most of the mines were closed.

The Gold Brick-Quartz Creek district has been the leading gold producer of the county, and the Tincup district is the only other district that has yielded more than 10,000 ounces." (USGS 1968).

Gunnison saw one of the quickest booms and bust cycles ever as the mines and railroads came to town in the 1880s along with all the normal business increases it created. 

The Gunnison historical museum complex displays a restored turn-of-the-century schoolhouse, the town’s first post office and a railroad depot, complete with a steam engine and cars from the DG&RG Railroad. It also showcases one of the largest antique car collections in the state. 



Portable X-Ray Fluorescence field   units (also known as XRF guns) are commonly used by large commercial mining operations, well-equipped/funded private prospectors and even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as many other government agencies for the most accurate field sampling in the quickest amount of time.   

In no way do we advise that you base all of your commercial mining valuations on just one or two samples (regardless of how accurate the method that you use to sample is), but this extremely precise and versatile $40,000 device is equipped with powerful X-ray tubes, specialized filters, highly advanced detectors, and multi-beam optimization that efficiently analyzes the chemistry of the rock, soil, and sediment that hosts metals, for a quick and extremely accurate analysis of even trace levels of metals like silver, lead, gold, platinum, copper and many other elements.

Today’s highly sensitive XRF Handhelds work by emitting an x-ray beam with enough energy to displace the electrons in the inner shells of the atoms that differ from the energy it gives off leading to a loss of energy in that atom.  

The specific loss of energy identifies the elements that are present in the sample. While fire assay is still the most widely used way to gauge how much or a particular metal (like gold and silver) is present in a sample since it can test the entire sample, it is an expensive process and takes many weeks to get an answer. 

XRF technology is the fastest and most accepted method in existence today for sampling a few millimeters (or deeper depending on the type of host rock sampled) into the surface of even the hardest rock, and the accuracy is measured in 1 to 2 parts per million (PPM)