EST. COST: $200,000
The Solomon Mine profited from the ore rich Holy Moses Vein in the east branch of Willow Creek. The mine was one of the earliest and richest metal producers in the area. In 1892 a tunnel was driven into the Holy Moses vein. The plentiful ores of galena and zinc resulted in a mining boom. Erection of a surface plant and laborer’s residences occurred during exploration of this rich vein. In spite of plentiful deposits within the mine, it closed down during the Silver Crash. Mining resumed in the late 1890’s and the new owners of the Solomon Mine desired to keep costs low by erecting a mill to concentrate the ore.
In 1910, the Solomon Mine was exhausted of economic ore but was reopened during World War I for industrial metals and shut down again in 1920. Ownership of the mine changed hands several times, each owner hoping for profit until the mine was abandoned. In total the Solomon Mine produced $2 million in ore.
Prior to the existence of the Willow Creek Reclamation Committee, the Solomon Mine adit was releasing heavy metals into East Willow Creek. In 1991, using EPA/State CWA nonpoint source (319) funds, a Passive Mine Drainage Treament System (PMDTS) was installed to prevent further contamination. The treatment system includes a limestone drain inside the portal of the Solomon adit connected to sulfate reducing wetlands. The wetlands consist of three ponds, or cells, that are lined with PVC liner, clay and an organic substrate.
This sequence suspends the metals in the organic substrate and keeps them from entering the creek. Water quality samples collected after the installation of this system indicate a reduction of metals leaving the wetlands. However, a serious odor from the sulfate-reducing bacteria was a source of complaints and led to the deconstruction of the filtering system. The cells remain today and are being evaluated for future use. Based on the results of previous water quality evaluations, the WCRC may seek funds to revitalize the Solomon wetlands.
The WCRC has asked EPA to explore the use of an Administrative Order of Consent (AOC) for purposes of allowing the wetlands treatment system to be operated without an NPDES permit. Further environmental remediation on the site includes Creek reconstruction and alignment modifications, road reconstruction and realignment, and topsoiling and revegetation of select areas.
Partners: WCRC, CDRMS and CDPHE (HMWHD and NPS)