Late in the year 1900 W. S. Stratton started active operations, buying up claims, his especial favorites were Gold, Globe, Ironclad and Bull hills, on those hills he acquired hundreds of acres of territory and for a period of ten months he expended the enormous sum of close to $500,000, all of which came from his private purse. That sum does not include the vast amount he spent in equipping the various shafts with machinery, or the development performed prior to forming the big corporation Stratton Cripple Creek Mining and Development Company, in which all the acreage was included.
Deep mining, he thought, would prove profitable to the man who had the nerve to go ahead and not worry about what he was spending. His hobby was Globe hill. The geological conditions were perfect there for the opening of great ore bodies. He figured that the granite of Poverty gulch was dipping in the hill at such a rate that it would be cut at a depth varying from 1,800 feet to 2,000 feet. When the granite was encountered, he theorized, great ore bodies would be encountered.
With that theory well in his mind he projected the Lady Stith shaft, and gave orders to commence sinking and go to the depth of 2,000 feet. The shaft is the largest in the district, being 4,5 by 15 feet 4 inches in the clear. No one, aside from W. S. Stratton, would ever have had the nerve to even project such an undertaking, much less start it and pay the expenses of such a gigantic operation.
The shaft contained three compartments. One was equipped with a cage, for the cars ran in the levels extended for exploitation. Another one was used for a bucket, so sinking could be carried on without interruption, while the third one was used as the man-way and for air pipes.
The shaft was started in an extinct thermal spring that has excited much mental speculation on the part of geologists and mining engineers. Many mistakes the place as the seat of volcanic action or an old crater.
Mr. Stratton recognized what it was, and studied the conditions long and carefully. Whether the late Mr. Stratton figured that from the porous and barren condition at surface and just below, that the values had been leached out by the thermal waters and deposited below was never learned from him, but certain it was that his theories were that water played a most important part in the ore deposits of the hill.
The leached condition of the veins near surface show that the ascending, descending and circulating waters robbed the veins of the values, but where they were afterwards deposited is hard to tell. It would be natural to believe that the descending waters removed the values to great depth, and it was along those lines that development work was pushed.
That the late Mr. Stratton had abundant faith in the future and believed in deep mining was evidenced by the amount of work he did on Bull and other hills.
An example is the now named Plymouth Rock shaft, better known as the Lady Stith, which is 655 feet deep, and were there has been performed a total of 2,315 feet of drifting and cross-cutting.