CREEDE — The Last Chance Mine in Creede was discovered in the fall of 1891 by a gentleman from Del Norte, Ralph Granger. It was announced in the Jan. 5, 1889, San Juan Prospector that Granger and his partner Benovsky had purchased and opened a grocery store and butcher shop along the main street of Del Norte, but it was his adventures in the spring of that year that would change the course of history for many and create the mine that has become a tourist hot spot today.
According to the newspaper of 1889, Granger sold his half of the business to his partner and began the rigorous process of searching for gold and striking it rich. During this time, Del Norte was booming, and the gold was coming from Summitville by the bucket loads. Everyone was seeking a piece of the rich ore that was yet to be found and Granger wanted a piece of that pie.
He looked for two years and after coming to the last of his resources and funding, his family in near shambles, Granger struck it rich. He named the mine for exactly what it was, his last chance and to this day, the mine continues to produce treasures. For new owner Jack Morris, the Last Chance Mine has turned into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and he is happy to share it with the public every day.
Over the course of 25 years, Morris has run the once-profitable mine into something different while honoring the ghosts of the past and looking for new ways to bring the richness of the mine’s history to the present.
“This was a lifelong commitment. I brought this place back to life and I will die here,” said Morris with a smile.
Morris made it his life’s mission to open as much of the mine as possible to the public and to continue to share the story of Granger and the Granger family. Now that the torch of the Last Chance has passed to him, Morris has taken one of the richest silver mines in Colorado history and opened the doors to visitors.
Now the mine offers four tours. Each opens a piece of the past and gives guests the unique opportunity to learn about how the mine came to be and the work that took place years ago. The newest tour is the 1891 tour. It takes people through some of the original tunnels and is narrated by trained tour guides with delightful stories.
Tour guide and Last Chance Mine employee, Scotty — with a Y, he always says with a laugh — and his dog Gin and Juice, are only one of many guides that take visitors through the tunnels and into the past with charismatic and energetic story telling. If there is one thing that can outshine the minerals, it is the personalities that come with the tours and Scotty and his fuzzy companion are no exceptions.
In the next few years, Morris plans to expand further by offering tours that take visitors deeper into the mine and into areas that only Morris has been to since the mine closed.
The Last Chance Mine will be open until the first weekend of October.