History of mining

The Legacy of Metal Mining in the Nederland Region

Brian Alers, CPG, Nederland.  Part 3c: The First Lode Gold Discovery, Continued.  The improvised bar at the saloon in Arapahoe (near present day Golden) consisted of a wooden plank laid across a couple of crates and two tin cups to share the shots. In the saloon, John H. Gregory met a clean, well-dressed man, with a walrus moustache named David K. Wall. Wall was a farmer who had staked out a homestead east of town. He gave Gregory a dollar to get some food and a night’s rest at the two-door cabin which acted as the local hotel. The dollar turned out to be only enough for a meal, but the hotel operator let him sleep on the floor in his bear skin robe anyway.

After a few days of recuperation, Gregory set out to Wall’s farm to try and convince him to provide Gregory with some supplies in exchange for a portion of what he discovered; typically referred to as a “grubstake” agreement. David K. Wall was more interested in buying a cow for his farm, but he trusted Gregory and agreed to grubstake his endeavor if he brought along his greenhorn friends from Indiana, who “don’t know gold from beans-except they would probably try to fry both of them in a pan”. The greenhorns were Wilkinson (Wilks), and Archibald (Arch) Defrees, John and Charles Zeigler, William Fouts (from Missouri) and three others.

The night before they started out, the Ziegler brothers (who had the most money) took everyone out to the saloon in Arapahoe for drinks. One drink led to another and before they knew it Charles Ziegler had revealed the scheme to “Dr.” D. Joseph Casto, W. H. Bates and five others from Iowa, equipped with a mule and two-wheeled wagon. Dr. Casto (a former Baptist divinity student) and his group could not get their supplies assembled by the next morning, so Gregory drew them a map and they all agreed to meet at the site later. They shook hands and toasted the agreement by sharing two tin cups of Taos Lightning.

Around noon the next day, May 6, 1859, Gregory and his party of nine arrived at the bottom of the wooded gully where he had weathered the snow storm earlier. Gregory and Wilks Defrees scrambled through patches of snow, aspen leaves, and pine needles for about 200 feet up the south side of the gulch. The ground was still frozen, but hey managed to scrape up enough dirt from a rock outcropping that looked “jest like the burnt quartz of the Georgia mines I worked in” and the two returned to the creek to pan the dirt with the others. They were soon able to pan four dollars in gold (0.2 ounces) out of that first pan of decomposed quartz vein material.  This little group had discovered the first lode gold (the Cornish term for vein gold) found in the Territory, the Gregory Lode, the Mother Lode of Colorado. Gregory had found the source of  W. Green Russell’s placer gold.