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Lode deposits were developed in the 1880s, as prospectors followed the gold to its source veins in the hills.Gold in some upper gravel benches north of the Blue River was recovered by hydraulic mining.Within two months many other veins were discovered, including the Bates, Gunnell, Kansas, and Burroughs.

Gold discoveries in Colorado began around Denver, traced the placer gold to its source in the mountains west of Denver, then followed the Colorado Mineral Belt in a southwest direction across the state to its terminus in the San Juan Mountains.

In 1858, prospectors focused on the placers east of the mountains in the sands of Cherry Creek, Clear Creek, and the South Platte River.