Starting on Monday, September 12, the Breckinridge Heritage Alliance (BHA) will begin a project renovating the Wellington Ore Bin in French Gulch. The project head, and vice president of the BHA, Larry Crispell, estimated that the project would take 2 months and will bring the structure to 65 feet in height.
The Wellingon Ore Bin was built in the late 1800s. The building was used to process rock ore that had been collected from the mines. The original structure was five stories and could process up to 40 tons of rock per day, according to an announcement on the project from the BHA. In 1909, an electric rail line was built to better transport the ore to the Wellington Mill, where it would eventually make its way to other towns such as Leadville.
However, specific details on when it was built are more of a mystery, said Bill Fountain. Fountain is co-author of a book titled “Chasing the Dream, John A. Traylor and The Royal Tiger Mines Company,” which details the history of the parent company that owned the Wellington Mine. Fountain said the book will be published next year by the BHA.
The first step in the project is to put up scaffolding. According to Crispell, the project is one of the most difficult the organization has undertaken. The height of the building added safety concerns for the construction workers.
The project is going to add a roof to the building, and Crispell said the construction for that should start on September 16. The roof and its materials were designed from a photo of the building from 1926. The roof will protect the ore bin from the elements. “The roof will preserve the structure for many, many generations to come,” Crispell said.
Saving this, and other historical structures like it throughout Breckenridge, is a large part of why Crispell joined the BHA. He added that his job is made easier by the support of the citizens in Breckenridge, as well as its town council. “People realize what they have and recognize the history,” Crispell said.
The history of the Wellington Mine stretches almost as far back as the history of Breckinridge itself. The Oro Mine, which eventually became part of the Wellington mine, was first discovered in 1887. The Wellington Mine was discovered shortly after that. “[It was] not only the most successful mine in Breckenridge, but probably in all of Colorado,” Fountain said.
Fountain added that the Ore Bin building was likely a part of the Oro Mine initially, and was probably never used by the Wellington Mine Company.
The Wellington Mine continued operating in Breckenridge until the 1980s. Crispell said that he remembers delivering fuel to the company when he first moved to Breckenridge in 1971.