(Found in old family papers...not sure if it is even our family...??)
D.C. Babcock and John B. Collins





In the year Abraham Lincoln was elected President, a group of fifteen prospectors took the risks of encroaching into the hostile Indian Territory of the San Juans to search for gold (1860). Captain Charles Baker, after whom Baker's Bridge was named, led the contingent which divided itself into three groups as a strategy for survival. As the Baker expedition progressed towards Silverton, all five men in the middle group were killed by Ute Indians. For years, broken wagon parts and discarded camp equipment gave evidence of the Baker Party Trail. From the Pine River, it ran across C. E. Hampton's Ranch to the Florida River on the Edgemont Ranch and down to the north end of the Animas Valley to Baker's Bridge. 35 miles north of Baker's Bridge, along the Animas River, the prospectors made significant gold discoveries. As a consequence, a large number of persons flocked here the following year in the Spring of 1861. For the next thirteen years, the site of this short lived mini gold rush was known as Baker's Park. We know it as Silverton.

The Baker Party spent the winter of 1860 - 1861 at Baker's Bridge at the north end of Durango's Animas Valley - they named their home Animas City. Six years later, an Army scouting party stumbled upon this original Animas City. In their report: ...within the Pine Forest on the North end of the Animas valley were found fragments of household, mining and cooking utensils, agricultural and other implements, scattered profusely in wild and lonely confusion through some 50 half decayed log houses spread over a clearing. The cabins were strung out on either side of a singular street for several hundred yards. Realizing the pioneers were intent on staying here with a permanent settlement, the hostility of the Indians exacerbated. With this threat to life and their luck playing out, the early prospectors evacuated very suddenly on July 3, 1861 - many answered the call to arms at this time of the inception of the Civil War. Baker was to become a Captain in the Confederate Army. The Baker men left as well, leaving their cache of concentrate buried up the river from Baker's Park (Silverton). They marked the site with trees; each member being given a map. The men who survived the war returned to hunt for the cache of gold but found that the miners who had since arrived had cut down the trees marked on their map. As far as this writer knows, the gold lies still buried.




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