Red Mountain's vivid colors attracted considerable mining attention, and this is no coincidence. In tectonically-active regions, where compressional and extensional forces open cracks and fissures in the subsurface, streams of superheated water from deep in the earth sometimes make their way toward the surface. These streams tend to be enriched in metallic minerals (hence the bright colors), including gold and silver. Some of the abandoned mines in areas like this also provide excellent prospecting for other minerals.
Here is a short history from the Montrose Daily Press Online:
"The Red Mountain District above Ouray was a hub of activity during the late
1800s. The towns of Red Mountain, Ironton and Guston all sprang up within a few
miles of each other and remained extremely competitive for riches as well as
population. Both the district and town were named for the three scarlet-hued
mountain peaks that surround this high mountain park.
Otto Mears' Silverton Railroad, which had the reputation of being one of the
steepest (5 percent) and most crooked (30-degree curves) in Colorado, linked the
towns and mines in this district with Silverton ... while a stage/toll road, also built by
Mears, provided a vital transportation route between the Red Mountain District and
Nader's advice to stay off the private property should be heeded carefully. The guy's name presently escapes me, but over the years he has bought up mining claims northwest of McMillan Peak that include much of the Red Mountains and Ironton Valley on the east side of Route 550.
In recent years, a heated debate has been going on because the guy wants to sell and develop this land for large lot single dwelling homes. This of course has raised the ire of the City of Ouray, a number of historical societies and a host of other groups. Attempts to buy the land have been refused because the guy is asking for massive and ridiculous amounts of money.
Ouray has tried some legal stuff to stop the guy from doing his development plans, and I believe the Forest Service has gotten involved, much to its dismay. As a property owner, the guy is within his rights and that has been his argument. In light of the historical significance of the area, including the ghost towns of Red Mountain and Ironton, special circumstances may warrant a different treatment of this property rights issue. This remains to be seen, as it will be tied up in the courts for ages.
The guy, being a property owner, is justifiably inscenced by this. His rights have ben trampled on. But he doesn't seem (last I knew) to be open to reason and hearing others out over the issue either. So he's been a real pain in the ass, and to some extent, justifiably so. Hopefully an arrangement that satisfies everyone will be agreed upon.
HOWEVER-It would be a shame to see the area developed with multimillion dollar homes. That would be just pathetic. What the mountain lovers have going for them is this: Who in their right mind would want to live in this area in the winter? This place is just downright perilous and one of the most avalanche prone areas in the state. You could be stranded there for days or weeks, depending on how far back in the sticks your private road extends. This argument has been presented to dissuade the land owner from developing.
Another argument is environmental. Just running roads and infrastructure into the area would be a blight beyond belief, not to mention the massive expense (but when you're mega rich, all of this just doesn't matter any more than lint in your pocket).
As maintainer of this page, nader may have opened up an interesting can of worms that will make for informative and entertaining reading, if he can ever find and keep track of these events. Unfortunately, this could mean lots of work as a maintainer, similar to the Culebra Peak page which jgsman submitted and is currently burdened with. If nader really plans and wants to do a good job, keeping track of the "real time" elements concerning these legal issues involving this and a number of his other mountains, will be a chore.
Have fun, nader! HA!