A Remarkable Aspen Mining Map -- Smuggler Mountain
Large map illustrating the competing mining claims of several silver mines in Aspen, Colorado, which resulted in litigation between John C. Johnson and the Standard Mining Company of Kansas City, relating to some of the earliest claims along part of the Cowenhoven Tunnel, one of the most important early Aspen mining achievements.
The present map was used as court exhibit in litigation involving the mining claims of J.C. Johnson, Chatfield, Della S., Regent, Park, Bushwhacker, and Alma S., along with part of the Cowenhoven Tunnel. This example was created specifically for an early Colorado mining dispute that reached the Supreme Court of the United States:
John C. Johnson, Appellant vs. The Standard Mining Company of Kansas City, Appellee
CASE NO. 13709, THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES; October Term, 1892.
The J.C. Johnson claim was staked out in the early 1880s, and by 1886 became one of the paying mines on Smuggler Mountain (Aspen Mining District, Pitkin County, Colorado), along with the Smuggler, Della S., Bushwhacker, Park-Regent, and Mineral Farm. The Della S. was a property owned by D.R.C. Brown. The Bushwhacker was purchased by Jerome B. Wheeler. The Chatfield claim, also staked out in the early 1880s, was contiguous to the J.C. Johnson; shared much of the same geologic formation, and some of the underground workings.
Most of these mines had large bodies of low-grade silver ore that were not worth mining until the railroads entered Aspen and significantly reduced transportation costs.
Elmer Eugene Chatfield, son of Isaac Willard Chatfield, located the mine after returning from several years in Dodge City, where he purportedly was a friend of Bat Masterson. I. W. Chatfield, moving from Florence, Colorado in 1878, served a term as mayor of Leadville. His son, not wanting to remain in Leadville, explored Pitkin County, Colorado for mining prospects, and then went to Johnson County, Wyoming to become part of the cattle industry. Chatfield purchased a one-fourth interest in the J.C. Johnson claim, and other claims, including the Smuggler No. 2, from J.C. Johnson on September 14, 1880, and a title bond was executed.
The court case surrounding these claims has to do with "grub-staking," location certificates, "selling part interests" in claims, bonding, assessment work, and title perfection. It is an excellent example of business agreements often entered into by prospectors and speculators during a Colorado mining camp boom period. Few of the actions taken in 1880 seemed of consequence; that is, until 1886, when the J.C. Johnson and other mines on Smuggler began to pay dividends, due to the arrival of the Colorado Midland Railroad and the Denver & Rio Grande. Then, the past actions of some of the parties involved found reason to become contentious.
The litigation was ultimately resolved by the United States Supreme Court in 1892. We include an original copy of the report of the Supreme Court's decision with the map.