Passing through Alma
Alma was founded in 1873 during a manic construction boom, right after its location was overrun by swarms of prospectors who also built two of Colorado's very first ore smelters. The first mining craze soon ran out out but surged again in the 1880s with the introduction of a new mining technology: high pressure water hoses that exposed enough mineral to revive several of the dormant mines (this is the famous “hydraulic mining”). During the Great Depression there was a large influx of new prospectors who came to sift through long-idle mining claims and see what they could find. This still goes on, depending on fluctuating mineral prices: even into the 1980s Park County's largest private employer was mining. By 2000 though, Alma's economy had shifted to depend mostly on tourism. But the way America's going these days, you never know. There's still gold and silver in the countryside around Alma and if the prices of those metals climbs high enough, the miners will be back.
In 1875, one Park County placer owner brought in 100 Chinese contract workers to work in his mine holdings. By 1882, Chinese miners were leasing and working thier own claims around Alma.
In 1898, the first placer dredging operation in Colorado was tried near here. Dredging revitalized placer operations in the greater Hoosier Pass region up into the 1980s with its use of large-scale mechanized excavation methods in sifting through the materials deposited in all the streambeds of the area. You can see the remnants of their "work" as you drive along the highway: there's mounds and ridges of gravel along the sides of the streambeds where all the gravel was picked up, sifted for its' gold and silver content and then dumped somewhere behind the dredge as it slowly moved upstream.