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Glide back into mining history

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More than 12 million dollars in silver ore was produced by the Yankee Girl Mine up Red Mountain Pass between 1882 and the late 1890s. Today, the mine is defunct and only a few visitors reach it each winter -- usually by snowshoes or skis.

Stories about the mining legacy in the San Juan Mountains as well as the peaks' names will be shared during a guided tour of the Red Mountain mining district on Saturday, Jan. 30. The special outing is hosted by the Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership and the Ouray County Historical Society.

"The winter scenery is beautiful and the structures in the snow make for very outstanding photos," said tour guide and Ouray County Museum Curator Don Paulson. "If you love history and being outdoors in the winter, this is the trip for you."

On the mining district tour, "I will tell about the history of the area including the mines, the town of Guston, the Silverton Railroad that ran from Silverton over Red Mountain pass down into the Ironton Valley, and I will identify the mountain peaks and explain how they got their names," said Paulson.

Tour guests will join him on cross-country skis and snowshoes on a route that is about two miles each way on County Road 31 from Highway 550 to the Yankee Girl Mine. Tour participants will also visit the site of the town of Guston, which has several very photogenic buildings. "The tour takes place at 10,000 feet so participants should be acclimated to the altitude. It can be taken by any age as long as you're in good physical condition. We have had people from toddlers to 80-year-olds on previous trips," he said.

The tour will last from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Go to uncompahgrewatershed.org/event/2016winterrtour to register, or call 970-325-3010. Bring your skis or snowshoes, appropriate clothing, lunch, water and sunscreen. No dogs, please.

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