Probably the most wonderful strike of bonanza ore the past year was made in the Doctor mine. Mr. Josiah Winchester, of this city whose friends are legion, about four months ago obtained a lease on the mine from Messrs. Cone and Robinson, of Canon City. It was thought by many that the property had been worked out. Winchester had an entirely different idea. He declined to give any sub-leases on the mine below the tenth level, in fact, reserving the entire working shaft for himself. He organized a company of which Hon. A. M. Stevenson of Denver, is president, and Mr. Winchester the general manager.
The company organized, he commenced his work in the twelfth level, 830 feet underground. Old miners shook their heads and expressed it as their belief that the leasing company was up against it. Almost the first shot uncovered a dyke of rich sylvanite, and the first shipment to the smelters netted the company $7,600. He drifted on the vein at the twelfth level, a distance of 300 feet, revealing one of the most remarkable ore chutes yet uncovered in the Cripple Creek district.
Ore that assayed as high as $75,000 to the ton was brought to light, while little of a value less than $100 has been sent to the smelters. In fact, there is a mountain, one might say, of ore of a milling grade that will run from $18 to $40, which the lessees are passing by as beneath their attention.
An annoying law suit ensued with the Jack Pot people, the Jack Pot on the one side asking the court to restrain the Doctor from removing ore from certain territory within their lines, and asking damages—the Doctor people on the other hand asking the court to restrain the Jack Pot people from removing the same ore, which the leasing company claim in their extra lateral rights, and also asking damages, both sides being enjoined from mining in the conflicting territory until the final decision is rendered.
Development on the Doctor is now in progress, the leasing company proposing to erect one of the heaviest and most complete plants of machinery in the entire state. In the present incline working shaft a three-ton skip is to be placed, with heavy machinery sufficient, if necessary, to sink the shaft another thousand feet, while a new working shaft midway between the present shaft house and the ore house is being sunk in order to expedite the work. Gangs of men are laboring night and day upraising from the fifth level to meet the gang sinking the shaft from the surface.
Upraising is also in progress in the seventh and tenth levels. It is believed that the new shaft will be completed within the next 90 days. From the third level to the surface bonanza ore has been opened up. Lessee Henry Dahl and numerous other sub-lessees are in rich ore.
The Doctor is one of the oldest mines in the camp. It was located a number of years ago and passed into the hands of Messrs. Cone and Robinson, who took out a million and a quarter of dollars in two years in the space of 285 feet, between the third level and the surface, stoping out values until the grass roots fell on the workmen.
Below the third level very little ore of value was found, and something more than a year ago the mine was closed down. It has been worked spasmodically since then, but with no results until the present leasing company took charge.
Great seams of calaverite, as thick as one's finger, and as wide as your hand, were found. Its value was fabulous, and in the upraise between the twelfth and tenth level a bonanza streak a few inches wide, that assays nearly $100,00 to the ton was uncovered. This, however, is in the conflicting territory, and is not being mined. Aside from the ground in conflict there is a million dollars worth of ore in sight.
The discovery of the Doctor ore chute several years ago created a profound sensation in mining circles. While excavating for a foundation for the engine room, ore was removed from the very surface of the ground, and a carload of it was sent to the smelter, which was settled for, the owners netting $83,000. Work in the incline shaft was then commenced, and in the next three hundred feet, the mine was in bonanza of the biggest kind. Ore of fabulous richness was taken out of the ground. It seemed like a story from the Arabian Nights, for everything touched seemed to turn to value, and $1,250,000 was taken from the ground in twenty-four months, and many flattering offers were made for the mine, but were refused. Lately these offers have been renewed, but the owners hold their property above price, and will not part with it under any circumstances.
The recent strike rivals that of four years back, in richness, with the single exception that there is more ore in sight now than there ever was before, and it has been shown that the ore chute is continuous, and of more than ordinary width. One hundred men find daily employment on the property and the pay roll is one of the largest in the camp, amounting to over $10,000 a month. Not only has rich ore been found in the tenth levels, but in every other level in the mine, and two shafts are absolutely necessary to handle the output, while in the old stopes, a hoisting plant is to be put in that will operate to the fourth level, to expediate the handling of ore, and relieve the congestion of values. With the shaft now going down on the eastern end of the claim, the Doctor will have four working shafts, and as soon as these are completed, the old mine will make one's head swim when the total amount of the ore values raised are known.
The Doctor claim extends away to the east some 1,200 feet from the shaft house, where the shaft is sinking about 200 feet from the east end line, and where it is expected that the ore chute will be encountered again. The claim is pierced by the Standard and Raven tunnels, and is probably one of the best developed in the district. It is perfectly dry and free from water, and the confidence of its owners is best shown in the fact that, with one exception, they are at the present time erecting the largest ore house of any in the district. The opening of bonanza ore the second time in this property ensued new life into Raven hill mine owners, and properties that have lain idle for several years are now working again, several of which are in good ore.
The Doctor is one of the most carefully managed and best timbered mines in the camp, and the stockholders of the leasing company are reckoned among the most influential men in the state. No one knows the exact amount of ore the leasing company is removing from the ground.
The company is a close one, and considers its business as purely private and of no public interest. Information is hard to obtain and the men on the mine are cautioned to keep their tongues tied. Yet it is no difficult matter for any one to be shown underground, but as to the developments and the mill and smelter returns—why, that is another matter. The knowing ones state that if the leasing company saw fit that the Doctor itself could add $2,500,000 to $3,000,000 to the total ore production of the Cripple Creek district for the year 1900, and the statement is made that the sinking of the present shaft and the running of the drifts and levels, now in progress, is simply to put the mine in order for unlimited and ceaseless removal of the ore reserves and no waste, for probably a twelve month.
Incorporated in the lease is the Chief claim. The Chief is developed by a working shaft 305 feet in depth with six levels, while through the two claims there passes the Ingham, the Mattie D., the John G., Rhinoceros, and it is thought the Dolly Varden veins. That some where throughout the eastern end of the property they all form a junction of great wealth, there seems to be no doubt, since mining men are almost clamorous in their desire for leases on that section of the property.