The first miners killed by Indians in our neck of the woods was in 1859 up Spring Creek near East Cement Mountain in “Dead Man’s Gulch”. The Utes had them penned down for three days and nights before finishing the six men off. Father John L. Dyer, Methodist missionary and famed “Snowshoe Itinerant”, found their “bleaching” bones still exposed two years later on his way to Washington Gulch.
In September of 1861, Father Dyer arrived at Minersville, near the present remains of Elkton, a mining camp formed in 1880. Two hundred prospectors lived in the camp, with at least as many working nearby claims. Cabins and tents abounded…whiskey and provisions were available.
The following summer saw another thousand fortune seekers arriving and more than a million dollars in gold was taken through placer mining. And they washed it all away…by summer’s end the easy pickin’s had played out and the Utes were fed up. They killed twelve miners in the gulch and the rumors flew. As the story spread and became more and more exaggerated, only a few hardy and brave miners remained in the area.
Sources: “The Gunnison Country”, by Duane Vandenbusche and Joe Somrak
By: Rob Quint