The original vintage postcard, from 1906 shows The Eagle River Canyon in Colorado. The town of Gilman, Colorado and The Empire Zinc mine are shown as seen from Battle Mountain Highway.
Gillman was founded in 1886 during the Colorado mining boom. The town is perched on the side of Battle Mountain and once had as many as 2000 residents during its boom years. Most of the cabins were built on the side of the steep hill with steps going up the cliff so that the miners could get to the mines.
This old postcard gives a great idea of what it was like in the boom days of the early 1900s in Colorado when all kinds of people traveled to Colorado to get in on the silver, gold, and other metals mining. The pay was good, the life was adventurous, if not hazardous (just look at that picture) and the old constraints of Eastern society were relaxed in the saloons and dance halls of the area. It was the Wild West in Colorado.
The town of Gilman was developed in the 1880s by John Clinton, a prospector, judge, and speculator. Clinton also bought several of the silver and gold mines in the area. These continued to produce gold and silver into the 1920s when the shafts had been sunk so deeply into the earth that the mines where then producing zinc. Clinton changed the mining equipment and turned this into an asset, continuing to mine zinc.
The major zinc mine in this area at the time was the Empire Zinc mine, owned by the New Jersey Zinc Company. New Jersey Zinc bought the town of Gilman in 1912 and ran it as a company town until the 1930s. The town continued to exist on mining until the 1980s when the mines where closed and clean up of the hazardous waste material was started.
Today, Gilman is a ghost town and is closed to the public while mining contaminants are still being cleared from the area. However, The Eagle River Canyon is still a beautiful and historic site to see if you are traveling in that area of Colorado.