Mining came to the Rio Colorado in the 1860s. The Ute Indians had long known mineral-rich areas throughout the San Luis Valley and, of course, earlier expeditions had gone north from Taos to find gold in the Valley. In 1866, the Utes went to Fort Union (east of Santa Fe) and used copper-rich ore to trade for supplies.
William Kronig, who had lived in Rio Colorado in the 1850s, along with John W. Moore, hired the Indians to take them to the source of the copper. This turned out to be at the peak of Baldy Mountain in the Moreno Valley, and Kronig and others subsequently developed the site into the Mystic Copper Mine. It is possible that some Rio Coloradans found work in these early mines. Pay was usually 25 to 40 cents per day in the mines (174).
Taos County Mining Records (1865–1881) (174a) include a mineral claim filed on February 27, 1865 by Anthony Joseph, (first initial I, J, or G) E. Price, William Le Blanc, and Francisco Martinez of Fernandez de Taos for their company the Montezuma Mining Company, for a lode in Taos county “…aforesaid on the mountain north of the Plaza of San Antonio.” No indication is given of what the mineral discovered was, and the description of the claim area is exceedingly general—“a canon which has a fervent of Cotton Wood Trees” and “the water Canon.”
Mineral discoveries in the 1890s would affect Rio Colorado more substantially (see New Mining).
174. Giese, D.F. (ed) My Life with the Army in the West: Memoirs of James E. Farmer, 1858-1898. 1994.
174a .Taos County Mining Records 1865-1881. Books 1, 2, 4.