Idlewild and the Klondyke
Sadly, this was the last time we saw
this historic old mill, as it was torn down in early 2011. Kathy Weiser,
September, 2008. This image available for
photographic prints & downloads
Though the gold rush had petered out in the Moreno Valley by the early
1900's, some were still convinced that "there was gold in them thar
hills." Fred Montague of Chanute,
one that still believed. He, along with four other investors,
purchased property in the Moreno Valley and dug three tunnels in 1920, two
of which showed little promise, but one would become the Klondyke Mine.
In the beginning, assay reports from the mine showed that the tunnel had
large amounts of gold, silver and copper. An engineer from Denver advised
the investors to build a mill. Before the mill was built, the owners first
built several buildings on the property, including a mining office, a cook
house, a general store and cabins for the miners.
Finally, the mill was built, but it was never a large operation, employing
just 13 miners during the summer months, all of whom left in the winter
except for a caretaker and overseer.
Unfortunately, only after
the mill was built did the investors find, in 1926, that the grade of
ore found needed to be smelted, and the nearest facility was in
Colorado. Trucking the ore to Pueblo was too expensive to justify
continuing the endeavor.
The Klondyke Mine was
never very productive and the mining company was constantly in search
of additional working capital, though they continued to hold board
meetings until the 1940's. Finally, the mine was abandoned as a
business venture, but the Montague family still retains the ten acres
surrounding the mine.
As of 2008, the area serves as a private getaway
for the Montague family and their friends, but the Klondyke Mine
remained during our last visit. For several years, plans were in the works to
dismantle the mill and relocate it to the
Enchanted Circle Museum in
Nest. The blacksmith shop behind the mine has already been
dismantled and moved to the future site of the museum, just east of
Eagle Nest on Highway 64. However, due to lack of funding, current plans
for the mill, are to tear it down due to liability concerns. Very sad.
Idlewild developed adjacent to the
Klondyke Mine in the 1930's. Originally, the land was owned by
Charles Gallagher, who married Mae Lowery, the daughter of Joseph and
Elizabeth Moore Lowery, for whom
In 1929, Charles was shipping a herd of
cattle to Kansas City about the time when the stock market began to
fall, expecting to receive $1,500 for the herd. Unfortunately, due to
market conditions, he netted only $700 and was forced to sell some of
Thomas Cook, from the
panhandle, purchased 160 acres from Gallagher so that his family might
enjoy the retreat that he called "Idlewild." He
built a cabin near the road to the Klondyke mine and began to bring
his friends and family to the retreat. Deciding to develop
the property, he began selling lots in 1931 for $6 and 12 people
bought lots in the new development. The following year 87 people
purchased property and the area continued to develop through the
the early 1940's Mr. Cook sold most of his holdings to Hardy Watson of
Oklahoma and Mayme and Britt Marrs were installed as caretakers who
continued for the next 50 years. Most of the properties in Idlewild
were sold to visitors from
many are passed from generation to generation, including my own family
cabin, one of the oldest in Idlewild. My grandparents were good
friends with the Marrs when I was a child. Now, there are about 320
structures in Idlewild.
of America, updated July, 2017.
Update: From Fred
Montague of Chanute, Kansas, a direct descendant of the original Fred
Montague who built the mine and mill, the Klondyke Mill was torn down on
January 17, 2011. Very sad news for the many of us that grew up fascinated
by the old structure.
From Our Readers:
I visited Idlewild with my
grandfather every summer. I actually explored that old mine and we would
stay in an old cabin near the mine. The family finally bought its own
cabin in Idlewild. - Greg
Inside the Klondyke Mine, David Alexander, May, 2004.
The Klondyke Mine in May, 2004, David
Dave and I were married in the Idlewild Community Church on June19, 2006.
Photo Kathy Weiser,
Thava Irene Foster, my grandma from Stinnett,
in front of our old
cabin. She was and is the
inspiration for Legends of America.
Grandma's old cabin in Idlewild, Kathy Weiser, September, 2008.
New Mexico (Main Page)
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Coloring History -
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