Chalk Creek History | Whispering Willows Hot Springs
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Get to Know The Area

Chalk Creek History

In 1863, at least 50 mines thrived near St. Elmo. The most famous was the Mary Murphy, located on Chrysolite Mountain. John Royal and Dr. A.E. Wright discovered potentially valuable ore around 1875. It was rumored that the Mary Murphy was named after a Denver nurse who cared for John Royal during serious illness. The Mary Murphy was one of the richest silver and gold mines in Colorado, producing an estimated $60 million in ore before closing in 1924.

50 miners lived in a boarding house built at tree line on Chrysolite Mountain. Charlotte Merrifield, author of Memories of St. Elmo recalls, “The miners were hard-working, hard-drinking, and liked to play pranks.”

An aerial tramway transported gold and silver ore from the Mary Murphy Mill for processing. The precious ore was pulverized, mixed into a paste, and placed in steam-heated vats. Mercury and other compounds were added to the mixture to separate the gold and silver.

Unfortunately, mining and milling processes allowed for heavy metals to seep into nearby streams. Cleanup work began in 1992. These efforts should help restore water quality within the Chalk Creek Drainage. Please respect private property. Portions of the Mary Murphy Mine are on private property.

The Denver to Gunnison railroad ran from 1881 to 1910. From the Chalk Creek side you can walk the railroad grade to the Alpine Tunnel..On the Gunnison side you will find the pallasades, a man made railroad trestle.

Whispering Willows Hot Springs is located beside where a chinesse laundry was in the late 1800s/early 1900s.

Mary Murphy Mine
Train in Snow

This photo was taken only 1/4 mile up Chalk Creek valley past Mt. Princeton Hot Springs around 1900 and the tracks were torn up around 1926. For the train to get to this location it would have to pass through the location of “Whispering Willows Hot Springs.”