Mining Claim Information

By Eric Dickerson (See Mining Plat at the bottom of this page)

Most of the raw land in Clear Creek and Gilpin Counties were originally patented as mining claims. This land offers true mountain living, complete with views, wildlife and seclusion. However, for the average buyer, mining claims are imposing because they are not typical "lot & block" parcels and it is often difficult to sort through the unique challenges of this type of real estate. With the information and the confidence of a experienced and knowledgeable agency backing you the process can be easy, painless and a fine investment.

Mining Claim Example

These claims are usually 150 x1500 feet totaling 5.16 acres. The long rectangular shape of the claim is intended to follow a vein of gold or silver. Prospectors would search the hill sides for gold or silver bearing minerals in the rock. When they found promising areas they would patent one or more claims with the local mining districts patent office. The patent office would issue a unique number known as the "Mineral Survey Number" (USMS#) or Patent Number to the claim, and the person patenting the claim would give it a name. Since claims were intended to follow a vein of gold or silver, often you will find that several claims cross each other. In this case the intersection of two claims is usually owned by the owner of the claim with the earliest or smaller patent number. In the example, notice that the Hidden Treasure overlaps the Crown Point, dividing the Crown Point into two separate pieces of land.

Over 100 years later, these claims remain as the boundary system for most of the land in the area. Some have been combined and sub-divided, others paired with larger lots, but most of the claims are as they were when they were patented. Some have never seen any mining at all, others may have a few small "prospect holes," just a few feet deep and 4 or 5 feet across. Others have had mines of all depths and sizes dug on them, mill sites erected, and even rail tracks laid to haul ore. Along the way, the mineral rights may have been separated from the surface rights and sold, or even portions of these rights divided up among different owners. It is more desirable to own both the surface and mineral rights; however, not having the mineral rights should not deter anyone from buying a piece of land. Current regulations combined with the low yield ore in the area makes it very difficult and highly unlikely that someone would actually mine on your property without owning the surface rights. As the owner of the surface rights, one has the right to build only one home per claim, even in the cases where the claim is split into two non-contiguous pieces.

Before building on raw land there are a few things to take into consideration. First the access to the property must be legal (recognized by the county) by either an existing county road that crosses the property or a recorded easement across someone else's land. While state and national laws say that no piece of land can be without access to it, achieving this may require lengthy and expensive litigation. In the example shown, the Druid would have legal access but the Marian would not.

After access is assured, assessing the feasibility of utilities is next. If electricity is on or near the property, lines could be run to the building site. Current cost for this is approximately $3,500 per 200 feet of line, including the poles and installation. In some areas, electric lines are far away or not available at all. In these situations alternative energy is an option. Solar energy and generators are popular choices and are widely used in the area with great results. A solar system capable of powering a 1500sqft home will cost about $20,000 today. Considering the price of running power lines 1000 feet and the future savings of no pay a power bills, solar energy is a great option economically and environmentally.

Public water and sewer are sometimes not available, so a well and a septic system will need to be installed on the property before building a home. Wells vary greatly in depth, but on average in this area we see depths of 300 - 600 feet. Well drilling costs on average about $15 per foot deep. Septic systems involve a below ground tank and a leaching field. With excavation and installation the system goes for about $13,000 to $16,000.

Horses are allowed on claims in accordance county requirements. However, in order to legally water them, you must have a domestic well. To get a domestic well permit in Colorado, you must have at least 35 acres of land. Usually, the only way to legally water horses on smaller acreage is to haul in water.

In Clear Creek County, there are two different zonings for mining claims; M-1 & M-2. M-1 is mining and residential while M-2 is mining only. M-2s have lower taxes, but you can't build on them.

Despite all the challenges, mining claims make great building sites, often offering panoramic views, seclusion and sometimes a bit of history. Some of the most desirable mining claims are the ones that are surrounded by open space, National Forest, BLM, or county owned land. In these situations you are assured (to varying degrees) of having few neighbors, light traffic, and the enjoyment of the open space without the tax bill for owning large acreage.

Potential land buyers would be well advised to consult a real estate agent who is familiar with mining claims before buying, and contacting the county offices about the specific restrictions and laws. At Stonegate Realty we have a full understanding of the area and the vacant land market. We can now offer maps, GPS co-ordinates, and claim location for all of our customers.

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P.O. Box 697
Idaho Springs, CO 80452
Phone: 303-567-1555
Fax: 303-567-1563