The Centurion Drift (Tunnel) of the The Champion Dirt Mine,
Trail Creek Mining District, Idaho Springs, Colorado

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Photographer - Jo A. Petit  © July 2005
Alvin Mosch has dedicated the re-opening of this tunnel to a man named Wilford Roberts. Al personally knew and worked with Mr. Roberts and was in awe of this man and his outlook on life. Struck by polio at a very young age, Mr. Roberts worked for the Lamartine Mine throughout World War II. He used his crutches to stable himself and heavy equipment, like rock drills. An incredible amount of strength and agility was required to accomplish and over come his severe handicap. Roberts always had a smile on his face and was known for encouraging other miners when they could not go any farther and were so discouraged with the life of a hard rock miner. Roberts purchased the mine in the late 1930's, knowing it was famous for it's very rich gold ore. He was holding on to the property waiting for Gold prices to go up. But in 1943 the U. S. Government closed down all Gold and Silver mines, forcing the miners to work on war materials until the end of  the war. Roberts was at that time working for the Lamartine, mining Lead, Zinc and Copper. Though the Lamartine was also known for gold ore, it had many levels and each one was mined for different minerals and metals. During World War II the U. S. Government paid half of  the mining expenses required to mine the raw ore they needed for the war effort, so the lower priced ore became more profitable to the mine owners of these types of mines.

With great respect Alvin Mosch dedicates the opening of this mine to Mr. Wildford Roberts, a heroic miner and kind gentleman. This tunnel has been much more difficult to open than the Union. Starting with the cave in at the entrance, the first 400 ft. is now in good condition. Al is hoping to extend the tour to a depth of at least 1,000 ft.! This tunnel is still very wet and at this time requires mucking boots to enter the mine. The water will be damned and used for mining purposes while they are continuing the work of re-timbering and laying tracks. As soon as it is believed safe for a novice such as myself, I will make sure and get some progress pictures of this tunnel and maybe a few specimens on ebay too!

*Update - Sept. 29, 2006 - We are progressing on the Centurion quite well and have discovered some wonderful things in this mine. There are many more tunnels, winzes and raises then we originally thought, so the progress and discoveries just keep surfacing. One of the stopes we have uncovered contains pure gold wire as well as a winze with Gold and Silver Ore. The farther we move in, the more tunnels we have discovered and can't wait to clear out enough water and old timbers to see what else the old mine contains! Watch this web page for pictures, updates and opening announcements!
**Ok - July 19, 2005 I went back in the Centurion! Though this mine still has lots of work to do and you never feel alone in here, I ventured in for some pictures for the promised update!

So come along on my tour of the Centurion.
As I walked down the dark drift (tunnel) I couldn't help feel Buzz and I weren't alone. This mine puts off more energy than any other mine I have ever been in. Buzz was on the hunt for where the extra scaling bar had been left and I was determined to find time to get some pictures for this update, so we went in.......

Entering the Portal

Good sign, temporary sidewalk is in, at least at the entrance.

This mine is so much smaller than the Phoenix and has such an erie feeling....... I know it still has lots to do, but I must wonder how many of our visitors might feel a little closed in - as I did......

Though in this picture it is hard to see, there are tons of little veins that were followed in a circle around the tunnel. It is hard to tell with the oxidation what if anything was found when they orginally worked in this tunnel.

A direct shot of one of these veins.

Two boys from Chihuahua helped out with some timbering..... Nice work! They also laid some of the sidewalk, cleaned out the water to this point of the mine and did a whole lot of scaling on the back (ceiling).

To the right of the track through the new Timbers, there is a caved in area (what appears to be) a raise. The timbering is rotted and the area is very unsafe and only experienced miners would even attempt to enter this area. I am well advised (by Buzz) and know for myself, just by the sound of my heartbeat in my ears just looking into it, I am not this experienced!

A Shot from the area on the left, from the track.....

And Another......back to the right... Yes this is a raise.....

It appears to have a tunnel going even farther in this direction past the raise...... But this is the best my camera can see from a safe point so this is all we will see for now.

Calcium deposits are staring to form. This is cool! Such bright white color against the solid rock. It is like watching life continue even in these conditions! A mine that had been caved in at the entrance just a year before, for over 70 years.

A look straight ahead on the tracks.... Or I should say where the tracks end. This is still very wet (about 6 inches of water deep) and would require Muck boots to go any farther...... Thank Goodness Buzz found the Bar he was looking for and says "K - We can go!" I am sure relief was written on my face!

As we begin to head back to the entrance and I can finally see daylight...... I am glad to have taken this adventure but must admit don't think I could have stayed in there much longer...... Just seems so busy for such an abandoned mine.......

Check back soon for more pictures and Updates of the "Opening of the Centurion Tunnel, in the Champion Dirt Mine!"

Your Eye on the Portals at the Phoenix Mine Tours - Jo Petit