Gold Mine Operator Died Near Twin Lakes
TV Star Suffers Heart Attack
When it comes to a Wild West tale about the unexpected death of a gold miner, Lake County doesn’t have to look any further than last summer to find a good script. It’s one of those #WhatHappenedInCOVID stories that @Leadville Today is shining some little light on as America’s highest city marks the one-year anniversary of the global pandemic. All kinds of interesting news stories are rising to the surface, and you can find some of them – right here – in Leadville Today!
Spoiler Alert: Not Everyone Lives To Tell The Tale!
For fans of Gold Rush: Dave Turins Lost Mine, whose latest season just premiered last Friday, March 19, the TV show conjures up imagines of striking it rich in the Colorado Rockies. But ever since The Discovery Channel rolled into Colorado in 2016 and began filming, the reality show has been scripting its own behind-the-scenes drama, wrought with neighborly feuds, environmental impact concerns, gunshots, and now the death of a crew member. It’s time to fire up the popcorn, kick back in the recliner and find out what folks have been up to in your own backyard!
In the all-new season of Gold Rush on discovery+ the crew has been given the boot from neighboring Park County and has secured the necessary permits in Lake County for both the gold mining operations and to film the show. For readers unfamiliar with the popular series, it was early 2016 when the reality-TV show “Gold Rush” roared into Park County, descending on an old dredge near Fairplay with a small army of trucks and excavators to mine for television gold — and a bit of the real stuff, too. After years of growing tensions between Hollywood and high-country dwellers, the final straw for neighboring Park County included environmental impacts, as well as a good-old-fashioned standoff that ended in gunshot, with fortunately no injuries, other than a felony charge for one resident and at least one lawsuit for the Board of Commissioners.
It’s Over-The-Hill to Leadville!
In the official press release distributed by the media giant, the new Gold Rush season opens after pandemic travel restrictions make Turin’s plans of mining in Alaska impossible, Team Turin finally sets up their operation in Colorado. Armed with an all-new state-of-the-art wash plant, they begin work on a lost mine with massive gold potential. With gold prices reaching all-time highs, Turin’s dream of achieving financial security and total freedom seems just in reach until tragedy strikes the gold claim.
With the Rocky Mountain summer heat on their backs, Team Turin’s detective work leads them to legendary ‘main channel’ gold the Colorado oldtimers missed. They quickly face local resistance and the toughest ground they’ve ever mined, so the crew must dig deeper than ever before.
Then, by looking at the lessons from local history, they soon begin to strike big hauls of gold. But the success turns bittersweet when gold room operator Jesse Goins suddenly passes away. Devastated at the loss of their mining brother, the team takes time out to mourn. But Team Turin won’t be denied, and they return to work, on a mission to dedicate the season to Jesse and his share of the gold to his family. And after Turin makes a game-changing pivot, the crew pushes on towards a record-breaking season.
This season of Gold Rush: Dave Turin’s Lost Mine, Dave, and his team will summon ingenuity, willpower, and creativity to tackle the challenge of mining in an unfamiliar location. In a time of uncertainty, Turin and team will have to risk it all to come away with a life-changing haul.
Digging Up The Dirt at Box Creek
It was early 2016 when the reality-TV show “Gold Rush” roared into Park County, descending on an old dredge near Fairplay with a small army of trucks and excavators to mine for television gold — and a bit of the real stuff, too. As is all too often the case, the neighbors didn’t like it and the politicians thought it was good for business with the Fairplay Mayor going as far as calling the relationship with the town: “five-star.” But, in the final scene, it was more like the five points found on the Sheriff’s star that had crews are packing up and leaving Park County in 2019 after a fed-up local let some lead fly past someone who got too close.
Left behind was a wrecked landscape created by a company that regularly ran afoul of its permits and shattered a quiet high-country neighborhood for years. The controversy prompted the creation of Save South Park, a group aimed towards establishing more local control over mining in Park County. The group sights conservation concerns including, spoiling the views and contaminating the waterways with the old mining chemicals stirred up among the rocks.
Of course, the same concerns were raised, particularly by Twin Lakes residents as the mining operations are located on the backside of the popular, scenic tourist destination, off County Road 10. In fact, it’s the “Gold Rush” model of using tons of heavy equipment to pick over old dredge mines, which worries most not only stirring up legacy mine operations which could unearth toxic chemicals used in bygone eras, but the impact it has had to the Box Creek area is noticeable.
Mining For The Facts in Lake County
To date, there is no record, no official documentation concerning any inspection of the Box Creek Mining Operations nor the film crew’s impacts. But to be clear to readers, the gold mining oversight happens at multiple levels. Here’s how Lake County Building & Land Use Senior Planner Anne Schneider explains it: “Attached is the conditional permit for Box Creek conditionally approved in 2019 to conduct mine operations. The activity is also overseen through the state by the Department of Reclamation and Mine Safety (DRMS), along with the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE). This is the correct type of permitting that is required vs an excavation permit which is indicative of the building permit process. The DRMS permit requires mining operations have concurrent reclamation, the state is site-specific with the type of reclamation and re-vegetation that is required.”
But it isn’t just the mining permit that has raised concerns and eyebrows. In fact, very little has been reported to the Lake County community at all about the Gold Rush operations, particularly its smudged past with neighboring Park County. The county-funded Leadville Film Commission has said nothing – not ONE WORD about the show, not ONE POST concerning the contentious film operations in other parts of Colorado nor about the questionable local permit issued signed off on county officials, allowing for “events for up to 500 entrants,” just weeks after the county shut down all of the Leadville’s traditional annual events due to COVID-19 restrictions instituted by their own local public health officials. But perhaps most sadly, the local non-profit charged with managing the film message in Lake County did not provide one honorable mention of the death of crew member Jesse Goins, allowing the Leadville community to express their condolences to the family and colleagues of someone who perished on the home-turf while filming.
Additionally, Lake County residents were not informed about this high-profile death by the Sheriff’s Office, no standard press release was issued concerning the August 18, 2020 incident that created headlines on the west coast. According to other behind-the-scenes reports, some upcoming episodes may also reveal whether the “challenged” Lake County dispatch communications which lead some emergency officials on a wild goose chase to find Box Creek, will make the cut – let’s hope not. It doesn’t sound good!
Of course, some are blinded by the glitz of Hollywood. Fortunately, most Twin Lakes neighbors are not as their list of questions and concerns grows. Like where is the local “conservation” group in this situation? And what about all those groups, organizations, and departments with the word “environmental” in their titles? With experimental mining operations underway in one of the most pristine areas in the shadows of Colorado’s tallest peak, many local folks are asking what kind of shape things will be in when Leadville is ready for its next close-up?
Stay tuned to find out what happens next in this real-life reality show. For fans of the TV series you can catch the next episode of Gold Rush: Dave Turins Lost Mine, on The Discovery Channel and discovery+ Friday nights at 8PM ET/PT. Or represent for Lake County by joining the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #GoldRush and following Gold Rush on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
How It Began in Fairplay