Approximately 2 miles from the Caribou Ranch parking lot
The Blue Bird Mine, located at what is now Caribou Ranch Open Space, is a fine example of the hopes and dreams that brought thousands to seek their fortunes in Colorado. The mine's many owners used it for varying purposes over its 90 year lifespan. Today's visitors to Blue Bird Mine can experience Boulder County's hard rock mining history at this well-preserved site.
Blue Bird started out as a small silver mine, growing into a producer of high-quality ore by 1876. Promising new mines regularly made headlines, and Blue Bird was no different. Its proximity to North Boulder Creek, as well as its highly valued ore, which was assayed at $6,000 per ton ($126,000 in today's money!), created local enthusiasm for the mine. The mine stayed active until an 1893 drop in silver prices made production too expensive to stay profitable.
The Switzerland Trail of America Railroad line was extended from Sunset to Eldora in 1905. Trains brought summer "excursionists" from Boulder to the mountains for picnics, wildflower collecting, and sightseeing. The miners' bunkhouse was converted into a boarding house, catering to tourists until the Switzerland Trail stopped running in 1919.
With no other source of revenue, Blue Bird returned to mining. Over the next 45 years, Blue Bird was mined on and off by its various owners and tenants. In 1964, the mine closed its doors to mining for good.
Did You Know?
The Blue Bird Mine is named after the mineral azurite, which was found inside the mine. Azurite was known to the Ancient Greeks as kuanos, which means "deep blue," and is the root of the English word cyan.
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