We have been in Creede for a week now and in our last update we mentioned driving the Bachelor Loop along with our friends Debbie & Steve so we thought we had better elaborate a bit more on that because it is one of the most popular areas around Creede.
The loop is a seventeen mile drive that takes you high into the hills above town and through Creede’s former mining district. Scattered around the mountainsides are numerous old mines and ghost towns.
NOTE – We would recommend a stop at the Visitor Center before taking the drive and buying a $3 guide map that will give you some history about certain numbered sites along the way.
Another note – If you are like us and you visit the area you will hear a variety of opinions about the road itself on Bachelor Loop. We heard everything from “I drove my Prius around the loop” to “We barely made it in our Jeep Cherokee”. Well let me set the record straight. We probably would not drive a Prius over the entire route only because about the first 2 miles would be a challenge but if you drive the route in reverse I would do it in a Prius except for the last 2 miles.
There is a section at the beginning that is a steep climb and in our pickup I did put it in 4 wheel high and had no issues at all even though there are a few rocks that light cause a low clearance rig some problems but if you pick your line correctly you will not have issues.
As you drive the route the old mines are bound will spark your imagination about the struggle of miners digging ore in the steep cliffs above Creede. And about what life would have been like back in the day.
About half way through the route we came across the Last Chance Mine, another key spot to visit while in the area. As soon as we pulled up we were guided to a parking spot, asked to gather around and was told a story that went something like this:
** The Last Chance Mine would likely have become just another forgotten Creede mine had it not been for Jack Morris. A Missouri native, Morris became interested in mining and minerals via an unusual route. As a professional trucker, he had hauled heavy equipment to mines in Missouri’s lead belt, Arizona’s copper belt, Illinois and West Virginia coal mines and Missouri iron mines; where he met many miners and began collecting minerals. In 1995, to further his interest in minerals and mining, Morris began spending his month-long annual vacations in Creede.
Of all the historic Creede mines, the Last Chance most intrigued Morris. The owner of the Last Chance was Nancy Granger Schallen, the granddaughter of Ralph Granger, one of the businessmen who had grubstaked Theodore Renniger’s successful 1891 prospecting trip. Over the years, Granger had passed sole ownership of the mine to his son Paul, who eventually passed it on to his daughter Nancy. When Morris contacted Granger Schallen to learn more about the Last Chance, she asked if he wanted to buy the mine. After thinking it over, Morris replied that, yes, he was interested, but he couldn’t afford it.
When asked why he wanted the mine, Morris explained that he planned to open it to the public, generate revenue from the sale of the Amethyst Vein dump material, then use that money to restore mine buildings and preserve the mine’s history. Hearing that, Nancy Granger Schallen offered to sell Morris the Last Chance for nothing more than its assessed tax value.
Morris purchased the mine in 1995. In 1999, Jack moved to Creede and he then began the full-time restoration of four mine buildings. In 2005, he opened the Last Chance Mine as a fee-collecting site and historic attraction. **
Our guide “Fish” made the tour interesting and certainly was filled with knowledge but I will admit it was a little less than I had hoped for. But even though we have done a number of cave tours during our journey’s we have only one mine tour to compare to and that was the Copper Queen Mine in Bisbee Arizona and it really isn’t fair to compare the two because Copper Queen has been doing tours for years and the Last Chance Mine is in its infant stages. Oh, here is a link to our tour of the Queen Mine in case you are interested and didn’t see it before. https://daveanddiane.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/our-visit-to-bisbee-arizona/
Come to think about it the cost to tour the Queen Mine was $13 for a much more extensive tour. Oh well what’s $2, plus taking into consideration the expansion that is in progress at the Last Chance Mine by the time we return next year (if we do and I think we will) the tour should be pretty exciting AND SCARRY from what Fish told us.
After the tour Steve really had a hankering to get down in the tailings and look for some treasures and of course Diane was totally on board with the idea. So they both went to sign a waiver saying if they fell and broke something the mine was free from any blame and away they went.
Visitors that do not bring their own equipment are provided with a bucket, rock hammer, and plastic spray bottle filled with water and safety goggles. The charge to take material from the mine dump is $2 per pound.
Debbie and I opted out of the hunt and settled out on the deck and shot the bull while Diane & Steve beat the heck out of rocks looking for something cool. After about an hour they both came up with what they thought were great finds but ended up tossing them over the edge when the excitement over lol. Better luck next time.
After the mine we continued our drive until eventually we ended up back in town and found our way to Tommyknockers Tavern where we shared an order of chicken wings and adult beverages and talked until well after dark.
After Tommyknockers we all headed home with plans of meeting at 10am the next morning and visit the Creede Underground Mining Museum.
I will say again that the internet in this area just sucks so we will fall behind on the blog by design because I just don’t have the patience to toy around with f and on again connections. Life is too short to be frustrated by the little things LOL!!