Feature Attractions - Dave's Mountain
by Carl Burnham
an adventurous and scenic view, we took a tour 3,000 feet above Telluride
to see the ghost town of Tomboy. Dave's Mountain Tours picked us up
at our inn, and started us up Tomboy Road.
The one-way road to Tomboy and beyond to Imogene Pass where we were
going is rather steep, narrow, bumpy, and only recommended
for 4wd. The life of the miner was hard and rugged, with avalanches
and remoteness, only tempored by the chance of striking it rich, or
just the assurance of a steady paycheck in the mines.
Our tour guide provided us with a rich background of Telluride life
and local mining, as we went up the winding, narrow 12-mile road, with
views of the town below. Turns along the road have to be "negotiated,"
as well as when returning vehicles creep by yours with only an inch
or two to spare. We ventured up past an old miners' former shack by
the road, which had been abandoned for years.
one of our first stops along the tour at a rock overhang, we could see
the old hydro electric plant at the top of Bridal Veil Falls, which
still produces electricity. Now a residence, a family lives in the upper
level of the building part of the year. At this viewpoint along the
road, in the miners days, an open tent would be pitched and ladies of
the “evening” from the streets of Telluride below Main Street
would socialize with miners from Tomboy.
Smuggler Union mill site which was the town of Pandora, handled ore
from local mines, and is part of a large reclamation project. A section
of the tram above the mill can still be seen, which served for transporting
equipment and ore back and forth, with a boarding house nearby. The
tram cables consist of heavy duty reinforced steel cables, impressive
The Tomboy ghost town is a mile further, and still has a few buildings
that remain. The Tomboy Mine was one of the leading gold mines in the
world. Near the former town, we could see a long slice in the rock next
to the road where miners had excavated a huge vein of gold.
Several mines were built in the surrounding area after gold was discovered
here. While at the Telluride Museum in town, be sure to see the replica
of the Harriet Fish Backup Tomboy cabin, who came to Tomboy in its'
early days as a bride, only to discover harsh surroundings. We recommend
the book Tomboy Bride for an interesting personal read of her
life at Tomboy. Buy the book here for a special price of $12.89, which
includes free shipping! (see link at left to order).
The town of Tomboy grew to over 900 residents in the late 1800s, bigger
than Telluride at the time, with all the comforts of a bustling town,
and being close to the mines. In later years, after many years of declining
profits and high labor costs, the mine was shut down. Many of the town
buildings were destroyed by the mining company over thirty years ago,
due to liability concerns. A few buildings remain, as well as foundations,
which adds a spooky ghost town aura.
weather gets rather chilly at this elevation, and can rain or snow at
any time. A jacket or coat is highly recommended for the tour, you'll
be glad you brought it.
Imogene Pass is the second highest elevation in the U.S. that allows
4wd access. From here can be seen panoramic views of surrounding peaks.
You may notice that the oxygen is a good bit thinner here (at least
40 percent), so drink plenty of water and gauge yourself.
A range of tours are available during the summer to area ghost towns
and along other 4wd backcountry roads and passes, with memorable names
like Last Dollar Road, Lizard Head, and Black Bear Pass. There are many
options available for your tour. We even saw a wedding while we were
here. In the winter season, Dave's Mountain Tours provides snowmobile
tours designed to fit your interests and skills. For an adrenaline rush
time while in Telluride, whether summer of winter, take a tour with
Dave's Mountain Tours.
For tour reservations with Dave's Mountain Tours,
call 970-708-2478, or email.
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