Mining Laws
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Last updated: 31 August, 2021 21:26


The Short Line Blue Book, July 1902
(page 91-94)

The mining laws in force in Colorado and applicable to public lands of the United Stales therein, are found partly in Acts of Congress partly in the Constitution and Statutes of Colorado and partly in the local rules and customs of miners. The general land office has also established rules which in practice should be complied with. Whenever the Acts of Congress apeak, they control; where they are silent, the State legislation or the local rules control, provided they in nowise conflict with the Federal law.


Public lands valuable for minerals are reserved from sale under homestead, pre-emption or timber culture acts or otherwise than as mineral lands under provisions of United States laws.

All valuable mineral deposits therein are open to exploration and purchase, and the lands containing same to occupation and purchase by American citizens, or those having duly declared their intention to become such under regulations prescribed by law and according to local customs and rules of miners applicable thereto and not inconsistent with United States laws.


Mining claims on veins or lodes located after May 10, 1872, shall not exceed 1,500 feet in length along the vein, nor, in width, 300 feet on each side of middle of vein at surface. No mining regulation shall limit any claim to less than 25 feet on each side of middle of vein at surface, except where adverse rights existing May 10, 1872, render such limitation necessary. Discovery of vein must be made within limits of claim before location. End lines shall be parallel.


The location must be distinctly marked on the ground so that its boundaries may be readily traced.

The record of claim (location certificate) shall contain name of locator or locators, (date of location and such description by reference to natural object or permanent monuments as will identify claim.


Where two or more veins cross or intersect, priority of title shall govern. The prior location is entitled to all ore or mineral within space of intersection for convenient working of mine. Where two or more veins unite, prior location takes vein below point of union, including all space of intersection.


Owner of tunnel driven to develop vein or for discovery of mines is entitled to all veins discovered therein in 3,000 feet from its face on the line of said tunnel and not previously known to exist, to same extent as if discovered from surface. Locations of veins not appearing on surface, made on line of tunnel by other parties after its commencement and while it is being prosecuted with reasonable diligence are invalid. Failure to prosecute work on such tunnel for six months is considered abandonment of all undiscovered veins on its line. Veins located on tunnel site can be located same as a lode claim on surface, viz: 1,500 feet in length and taken on either side of center of tunnel.


On claims located before May 10, 1872, $10 worth of labor or improvements shall be expended annually, until patented, for each 100 feet in length. On claims located since May 10, 1872, $100 worth of labor or improvement shall be expended during each (calendar) year.

Period within which annual expenditure is required begins first day of January after location of claim.

When claims are held in common, expenditure may be made upon any one claim.

Work done in tunnel for development of lode shall be considered as expended on lode.

Failure to do such assessment work is deemed abandonment, and throws claim open to location by others, provided owners have not resumed work before such new location. Co-owners failing to contribute proportion of expenditures forfeit interest in claim to co-owner doing work, on latter giving personal written notice, or notice in the land office before expiration of period of publication.

Where an adverse claim is filed during period of publication, upon oath of person making same, showing nature, boundaries and extent of claim, all patent proceedings, except publication and of 90 days' publication in newspaper published nearest claim.


Claims usually called "placers," including all forms of deposits except veins of quartz or other rock in place, are open to entry and patent as placers, under similar conditions and proceedings as for lode claims.


Where placer includes lode, and applicant is in possession of both application for patent shall so state, patent then issues for both placer and lode; lode and 25 feet of surface on each side shall be paid for at the rate of $5 per acre; remainder of placer, and also any placer not containing lode, at rate of $2.50 per acre. When existence of placer within boundaries of placer is known, failure to include it in patent application is considered as declaration that the applicant has no right to it. Where existence of lode is not known, patent to placer conveys all mineral within boundaries.


Subdivisions may be subdivided into 10-acre tracts and contiguous claims of any size, even though smaller than 10 acres, may be entered jointly. But no person or association shall enter more than 160 acres, nor more than 20 acres for each individual claimant.


Application for patent under oath, stating compliance with law, is to be filed in proper land office accompanied by plat and field notes of claim made under direction of United States surveyor, showing accurately boundaries of claim (or claims in common) applied for, which boundaries shall be distinctly marked by monuments on the ground. Copy of plat and notice of application are to be posted in conspicuous place on claim before filing application, and affidavit of two persons that notice has been duly posted is to be filed in land office with copy of such notice. The register of the land office thereupon posts in his office notice of application and publishes it for 60 days in a newspaper designated by him, published nearest the claim.

The claimant, before or during the period of publication, files certificate of United States surveyor general that $500 of labor has been expended or improvements made on claim by claimant or his grantors, and that the plat and description of claim are correct. Claimant's own affidavit that plat and notice remained posted on claim during period of publication is then filed at expiration of period of publication and, if no adverse claim has been filed during the 60 days from first publication, it is assumed that applicant is entitled to patent upon payment of $5 for each acre or fractional part thereof.

NOTE. - A filing fee of $10 in cash, with publisher's agreement and proof of citizenship should accompany each application. Several claims of the same applicant may be included in the same application. Certified copy of location certificate and abstract of title, bringing title down to and including date of application, should also be filed proof thereof, by affidavit, shall be stayed until controversy shall have been decided by the proper court or the adverse claim waived. Adverse claimant must within 30 days after filing his adverse claim, begin suit in competent court (in Colorado District Court, or, in special cases, the Federal Court) to determine right of possession, and prosecute suit with reasonable diligence.

Failure in either respect is a waiver of the adverse. After judgment, party entitled to possession may file certified copy of judgment in land office, with certificate of surveyor general that requisite expenditure has been made, and pay $5 per acre for the claim or portion thereof awarded him by said judgment, and proper fees. The papers are then certified to general land office for patent to issue. If judgment is that several parties are entitled to distinct portions, patents shall issue to them according to their respective rights.


The land office rules provide for the issue of a receiver's receipt to the applicant when on expiration of the 60 days' period of publication no adverse has been filed, or the adverse, if filed, has been waived by the adverse claimant, or decided against by a competent court. This receipt is delivered against payment for the premises claimed at the rate of $5 for each acre or fraction thereof, and the filing of sworn statements of due publication and posting throughout statutory period (60 days) of notice of application, and also of charges, fees and moneys paid for publication and surveys and to register and receiver.

The claim is then said to be "entered" for patent; and the papers are forwarded to Washington for examination, approval and issue of patent.


The patent is a deed from the United States of the piece of land to which applicant has established possessory title. It includes all minerals therein subject to certain exceptions, e. g., dip underneath the patented claim of a vein apexing in adjacent claim and discovered prior to entry for patent; known lode in patented placer claim; cross veins, etc. The patent is issued in the name of applicant, but carries title to the person to whom he may have made conveyance prior to issuance. The patent is conclusive when valid on its face and issued in accordance with law. Conditions or exceptions not authorized by law cannot be inserted by the land office in the patent.

The local Legislature (e. g., that of Colorado) may provide rules for working mines involving easements, drainage, etc., and these conditions shall be fully expressed in the patents.

Any lien, which attached to mining claim prior to patent is not impaired.


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