Aspen’s Little Known Smuggler Mine
While thousands of locals and visitors hike up Smuggler Road year-round, few have taken a tour of the mine that lies beneath the road. Aspen was first founded as a mining town and it’s population in 1887 was 3x what it is today. In 1894 the largest silver nugget in the world was uncovered in the Smuggler Mine. Weighing 2,054 pounds and 93% pure silver, the nugget had to be broken into three pieces in order to be maneuvered up the mine shaft.
The mine is listed on the National Registry of Historical Places and tours are offered into the mine. You’ll go 1,200 feet inside where you can see the relics of tracks, timbers, carts and lanterns used by the miners. If you’re lucky, Jay Parker will lead your tour. Jay continues to work the mine and loves to share stories about it and Aspen. His truck sports a bumper sticker…”if you can’t grow it – blow it”. At 6 a.m. each 4th of July in Aspen, Jay fires a blast from the canon at the Smuggler Mine waking the town to the day’s celebrations.
When in Aspen, have you heard the noon whistle blow? It can be unnerving for first time visitors. No worries though as it’s just a hold-over from Aspen’s mining days. The noon whistle signaled lunch time for the miners and today it signals noon for the town. It can be heard up in the Hunter Creek Valley as the sound bounces off the valley walls.
To book a tour, call the Smuggler Tour Company at 970-925-3699…and be sure to ask for Jay! To learn more about Aspen’s mining history, visit the Aspen Historical Society.