“Just a hobby – that’s how it all started in 1969, something I would do even if there was no profit.”
– Don Burrow
The National Forest was still open to prospecting and filing mining claims on public domain lands as part of the original Homestead Act. I was soon making more on weekends than all week working in construction. My rock business started with a pick, shovel, and a $46 unemployment check.
I found out I could sell more than I could dig by hand, so I bought from other miners. My wife cried, my in-laws laughed, but later several of those laughing in-laws were employed by my company.
When I made enough to buy machinery, I started to develop new methods of digging in the vein or cavity. Sometimes the crystals on one side of the pocket had to be broken to take out the other side without damage. When mining by hand, one must dig in the cavity and leave the host rock with many of the clusters (wall rock) in the vein. With machinery, the surrounding rock is removed, leaving the vertical vein exposed in a wall face. The vein can then be picked apart by hand by defining a cavity, and extracting the crystals intact.
In the 1970s, I claimed and developed several quartz deposits on public domain lands, bought the lease adjoining Ocus Stanley’s mine on Fisher Mountain, and also bought the mineral rights to the Hi Peak Mine. Finally in 1980, I bought the Collier Creek Mine, which I still own today. During the 1980’s I continued to develop, mine, lease out, and finally sell several mines. In 1982, Burrow Mining Company became Crystal City, Inc., and employed over 20 people.
– Don Burrow
August 13, 1945 – October 12, 2021
In 1990 quartz was removed from the list of minerals which could be claimed and mined. This effectively closed over 70 mining operations on government property, leaving only 5 commercial mines on private property, Collier Creek being one of the largest.