Buffalo Boy Mine  
Maps and GPS:   Location Map    Location Map                 
USGS 7.5' Map: Howardsville
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Easy 4 CR3B 2.21 11,120 to 13,000 ft. Rock Outcrops 2-3 hours
County: San Juan
Adopted by:      
Managed by: San Juan County
BLM, Tres Rios Field Office
1557 Greene Street, Silverton, CO 81433
29211 Highway 184, Dolores, CO 81323
Summary: Buffalo Boy Mine 4WD road goes up Rocky Gulch to the Buffalo Boy mine and tram station. The road ends on top of the ridge between Rocky Gulch and Maggie Gulch.
Attractions: Mines, Hiking, Views
CR3B, Natural - Closed by heavy snows
Best Time: June - May be blocked by snow
July - Best, mid to late
August - Best
September - Best
October - Early snows may close the pass
Trail Heads
Rocky Gulch Trail - Mountain Bike, Horse, Hike
Old Hundred Boarding House Trail - Hike
Camping: There are no campsites along the Buffalo Boy Mine road.
Base Camp: This would be a good area to base camp and explore roads around Howardsville.
Fall Colors: Poor - Most of the road is above timberline.
Navigation: From Silverton, CO. head southeast on West 12th Street toward County Road 2/Greene Street for 92 feet. Take the first left onto County Rd 2/Greene Street and go 0.6 miles. Continue onto County Rd 34 for 0.4 miles. Continue onto Blair Street/County Rd 2 for 3.6 miles. Turn right onto County Rd 4 and go 1.7 miles. Slight left onto County Road 3 and go 1.6 miles. Turn left onto County Road 3B.
History: Niegoldstown was started in the early 1870s as a mining camp. Reinhart Niegold came to the San Juan Mountains from Germany, followed by his brother Gustav and their half brother Oscar Roedel, staking claims in Cunningham Gulch. One being the Old Hundred mine, as well as the Philadelphia mine. By 1875 the Niegolds mines were earning them $200 to $1000 per ton in silver ore. Their success prompted them them to purchase 15 tons of machinery for a mill and had it packed over Stony Pass. Once set up the mill proved only partially successful due to the complexity of the silver ore. The brothers founded Niegoldstown at the confluence of Stony Creek and Cunningham Creek, which included a hotel, boarding house, a post office from 1878 to 1881, and a store. In March of 1884 an avalanche destroyed the mill and three buildings.

In 1904, John Slattery reopened the Buffalo Boy after years of inactivity. The Buffalo Boy showed great promise because it had not yet been systematically developed. In 1909, Joseph Bordeleau organized the Continental Mining Company to lease the property. Over the next three years, miners would encounter rich gold ore in the vein, lose the trace, develop the ore formation further, reestablish contact, and repeat the cycle. Overall, the operation was moderately successful until a lawsuit among the owners froze the operation.

The Buffalo Boy reopened concurrently with the Mountain Queen. In 1925, the Vertex Mining Company signed a lease, hired a crew of twenty-five, and invested capital to modernize the infrastructure. The company installed an air compressor underground and provided workers with a boardinghouse equipped with a rare hot-air furnace. For three years Vertex enjoyed sound production of medium-grade ore with significant profits going to shipping and smelting. Thus, in 1929, the company built a mill at the mouth of Stony Gulch, near the old site of Niegoldstown. The mill featured the flotation system to ensure the efficient recovery of gold, silver, lead, and zinc. Vertex commissioned a tramway to lower the payrock to the new mill, a boardinghouse, and new surface facilities. These plans were under way when the economy collapsed in 1929, and Vertex finished the costly improvements probably under the presumption that the economy would correct itself within a short time. Vertex brought the mining and milling combination into full production in 1930 only to later suspend operations as the metals prices tumbled.

Jessen, Kenneth Ghost Towns Colorado Style Vol 3, 1st ed. Loveland, Colorado: JV Publications LLC, 2001. Print.
Kindquist, Cathy E. Stony Pass Silverton, Colorado: San Juan County Book Company, 1987. Print.
Wolle, Muriel Sibell Stampede to Timberline Athens, Ohio: Swallow Press, Ohio University Press, 1949, 1974. Print.
Twitty, Eric Historic Mining Resouces of the San Juan County, Colorado United States Department of the Interior: OMB No.1024-0018, Print.
After leaving the Stony Pass, CR3, road you will head around a ridge into Rocky Gulch. The road will be a single lane that heads into the pines. You will come to the first switchback with a spur road heading off the turn to cross Rocky Gulch and end at the Gary Owen Mine. The Gary Owen had a tram that ran down to the Old Hundred mill along Cunningham Creek. Head around the switchback and climb the ridge to a second switchback. The road will now run above Rocky Creek and come out of the pines. You will pass the confluence of Rein Creek and Rocky Creek below you then cross Rocky Creek. Just after crossing Rocky Creek there will be a small pulloff on the left. This is the start of the trail over to the Old Hundred Mine Level 7 Boarding House.

You will come to another switchback with a mine on the other side of Rein Creek. At the switchback the road will now head up Rocky Gulch passing an old cabin on the left side of the road. Past the cabin you will pass two tram towers on the right and them come to the large Buffalo Boy Mine tram station on the left.
Buffalo Boy Mine tram station

photo by:
Adam M

Buffalo Boy Mine tram station looking at towers

photo by:
Adam M

Buffalo Boy Mine tram station interior

photo by:
Adam M

The road will continue past the tram station doing a small S turn as it passes the collapsed adit of the mine. Next you will come to a rocky section of road with one of the rock outcrop obstacles as you head past the head of Rocky Gulch. The road will continue to climb up toward the ridgeline going through another small S turn with a short spur on the right that goes to the Rocky Gulch Trail. Continue on the main road to the left passing another rocky section of road before coming to the end at the top of the ridge. Here you will have great views at 13,000 feet.

  Data updated - February 20, 2022    4WD Road driven - June 1991    Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2022