Tin Cup Colorado

Services for Real Estate Pros with Eagle Ridge Signatures Inc.

Tin Cup is located in Gunnison County at the foot of Cumberland Pass.  It's not actually a ghost town anymore as it does have a few summer homes. 

Tin Cup came about in 1861 when Jim Taylor and his 2 buddies stopped at the creek to get a drink and one of them saw gold in the bottom of his cup. 

In the 1870's there were strikes of high grade Gold and Silver in such mines as the Gold Cup and Jimmy Mack among other mines.   That started the gold rush to this area. Originally the town was named Virginia City in 1880, but was changed to Tin Cup in 1882.   They packed the gold and silver out by mules and wagons to the railroad where it was taken to the smelters.

 PhotoTin Cup Colorado


Those finding gold and silver weren't the only ones making a killing!  Prices for everyday items skyrocketed. Men were skiing or snowshoeing out for supplies and making a hefty profit when they returned.

By 1882 there were around 6000 residents and over 20 saloons.  Tin Cup was one of the top 3 wildest and unruliest mining camps in Colorado.  The most famous saloon in Tin Cup was Frenchy's Place.  Tin Cup was ruled by what we would call the "Mob" these days. The Gamblers controlled everything.    They did hire marshall's so that people coming into town would think it was a place of law and order and then the Gamblers could take them to the cleaners.   The 1st marshall was told to "hear nothing and see nothing" . There ended up being 8 Marshalls in Tin Cup through the early years.   Thanks to the Colorado Historical Society we know that the 1st one quit, the 2nd was fired, the 3rd was gunned down, 4th was shot by a gambler, 5th quit and became a preacher, 6th went insane, the 7th was shot and the 8th managed to finish out his term.

The Tin Cup Cemetary is divided into 4 sections-the Protestant Knoll to the north, the Jewish knoll to the east, the Catholic knoll in the center and Boot Hill Knoll to the west.   In the Boot hill section there are some markers remaining, some of the most interesting are:

  • "Black" Jack Cameron-his grave is located in the southeast corner of Boot Hill Knoll, on his marker it states: "He drew 5 Aces"
  • Deacon Jones-8 Sept 1903-This was supposedly Tin Cup's Peeping Tom and a very good judge of whiskey.
  • Then we have Pass Out who was a Dance Hall Girl that lived out her life in Tin Cup.
  • And the first person buried in Tin Cup was T.L. Storms-died 30 April 1879.

 Mining began to decline in 1884 and the population dropped to around 400, however the town stayed alive and the Gold Cup Mine kept producing superior grade ore into the 1900's.  

In 1891 fire hydrants were installed and can still be seen today.

1903 seen a second minor boom in Tin Cup, bringing in 2000 miners, but it was short lived.  The Gold Cup Mine shut down in 1917, ending Tin Cups mining days.

Some of the homes in Tin Cup have been restored and are now summer homes for people.  I can't blame them for making this a summer place, you have incredible mountain views, wildlife by the score and some of the friendliest people you'd ever want to meet.

Comments (5)

Dena Stevens
Rocky Mountain Realty - Canon City, CO
Putting The Real Into Realtor Since 2004
I've never heard this story before, thanks for sharing. This does have the flavor of the Old West.
May 09, 2007 03:46 PM
Bonnie Marie DeWolfe
Eagle Ridge Signatures Inc. - Pueblo West, CO

You're welcome!  I've always been the kind of person that has to research areas that fascinate me, which in this case happens to be every ghost town or semi-ghost town that we visit.  History is entertaining at times!


May 09, 2007 04:06 PM
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert
Bonnie, I agree with Dena this does have the flavor of the Old West.  It almost seemed like one of those Old West movies where one person owns the whole town include the law enforcement in the town.
May 20, 2007 12:33 PM
Bonnie Marie DeWolfe
Eagle Ridge Signatures Inc. - Pueblo West, CO
Thank you for the comment George!  I had a lot of fun writing these. It's a subject that I never tire of.
May 20, 2007 01:21 PM
Bob Abbott

Hi Bonnie! Can you tell me if anyone prospects in this area anymore? Is it even legal to pan gold there?

Jun 17, 2011 11:38 AM