Several years ago while visiting the Animas Fork Ghost Town near Silverton Colorado, a volunteer from the San Juan County Historical Society told us about the Old Hundred Mine hanging Boardinghouse and Tramway Terminal. Although amazing pieces of mining history, what is really so incredible about these buildings is that they are perched thousands of feet above the valley floor on jagged cliffs with the only access being a narrow trail winding along the cliff faces.
The Old Hundred Mine Boardinghouse and Tramway Terminal were constructed in 1904 close to the summit of Galena Mountain which is near the town of Silverton. This was known as Level 7 of the Old Hundred Mine and the construction of the Boardinghouse and Tramway were to expand mining operations, allowing miners to work in shifts of 25 men on and 25 men off resting in the Boardinghouse, while ore was sent down the cliffs via the Tramway.
After hearing about the unique history of the Old Hundred Mine and the amazing location of the Boardinghouse, we used our 2016 Ouray/Ridgeway trip to drive over to Silverton and find this incredible place. As we start out searching for the trail to the Old Hundred Hanging Boardinghouse and Tramway we look up the cliffs from the 1st level of the Old Hundred Mine (where the tours are). My Dad is looking up the thousand foot cliff with binoculars and spies our first glimpse of the Boardinghouse high above.
Now knowing the general location of the Boardinghouse we find the this thin trail running up the mountain and eventually around the cliffs and out of sight to the area of the Boardinghouse. Although the trail was unmarked there did not seem like any other way to reach the Old Hundred Mine Boardinghouse so we set out up the steep trail.
The views from the narrow trail get better and better of the San Juans and Silverton as we make our way to the Old Hundred Mine Boarding House.
Finally we capture the first glimpse of the buildings from high above the Old Hundred Mine Boarding House.
Although steep in places, the trail starts out fairly easy but gets progressively more difficult and eroded away the closer you get to the Boardinghouse. As intimidating as the trail can be at times, it is not the real challenge to reach the Old Hundred Mine Boardinghouse. The most difficult section, and the one that posses a real danger if a misstep is taken, is the final scramble down several hundred feet of loose boulders and scree to the Boardinghouse and Tramway Terminal.
Finally at the Old Hundred Mine Tramway Terminal and Boardinghouse! The Tramway Terminal sits much as it did when it was shut down in 1908 with ore still ready to slide down the chute and fill the waiting buckets.
On the top level of the Tramway Terminal you can see into the mine shaft for Level 7 of the Old Hundred Mine, still full of snow and ice. There are still the ore carts sitting on the tracks ready to dump ore down the chutes.
The Boardinghouse really takes you back in time as you look at the old desk, kitchen stove and the miners boots that line of walls under the steam pipes.
The upstairs of the Boardinghouse still has many remnants of spring mattresses that were used for the 25 men that would sleep here, along with the benches and table. Although both the Tramway and Boardinghouse had restoration done to rebuild and stabilize the roofs, they look much as they did when first built over one hundred years ago.
After exploring the area we made the climb back up the boulder fields and down the narrow trail looking back towards Silverton as a hail storm moved towards us.
Once back at the truck we all agreed that between the amazing hike with the one of a kind views of Silverton in the distance, to the incredible buildings hanging off the cliffs, this was one of the most memorable mines we have been to in the Silverton/Ouray area.
See the San Juan Historical Society for more information about the Old Hundred Mine and the Level 7 Boardinghouse and Tramway Terminal.