Skip to main content


Identifier: WH252

Scope and Contents

Arranged chronologically, the records in this collection document the operation of the Mary Murphy Gold Mine from 1911 to 1939. Payroll, commissary and bunkhouse records comprise the bulk of the collection. It also includes the records of the 1939 foreclosure sale of the mine. An 1886 letter from D.F. Fuller to William Smyth is an account of Fuller's visit to the mine weeks after a large gold strike was made at the mine.


  • 1886, 1911-1939

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.

Biographical / Historical

In 1875, gold was discovered in Chaffee County, Colorado, just west of St. Elmo and 17 miles southwest of Buena Vista. The Mary Murphy Mine was located in the gulch between the Chrysolite and Pomeroy Mountains and became the biggest gold producer in the area. The successful mine supported the towns of Romley and Hancock as well as St. Elmo, where 2000 people resided by 1881.

In December 1880, the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad reached St. Elmo from Buena Vista. St. Elmo had three hotels, five restaurants, a drugstore and a schoolhouse. Eventually, two aerial trams delivered ore from the Mary Murphy and Pat Murphy mines to the railroad terminal.

The Mary Murphy Gold Mine produced over $60,000,000 by the mid 1920s and employed hundreds of workers. In 1910, George Collins became General Manager. The Company successfully continued for a few years, then issued bonds to finance further development. In 1926, the mines played out, the railroad tracks were torn up and people left the town. By the early 1930s, only about 300 residents remained in St. Elmo. In 1939, the Mary Murphy Mine was sold at foreclosure. As of 2007, St. Elmo began undergoing historical restoration.


2 Boxes

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The provenance of this collection is unknown. Letter dated June 29, 1886 was puchased, 2018.

Related Materials

George Collins Papers WH910

Processing Information

Ann Brown, November 2007

Processing Information

Ellen Zazzarino, Project Manager

November 2007
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States