Skip to main content

Portland Gold Mining Company papers

Identifier: COU:1298

Scope and Contents

The collection is split up into seven different sections:

Section I: Correspondence 1902-1949 Section II: Daily Operations of the Mine Section III: Legal and Financial Papers Section IV: Employee Material Section V: Altman Water Company Section VI: Miscellaneous and Material in Deteriorated Condition Section VII: Material in Voucher Boxes, Bound Material, etc.

There are 98 boxes in total with a few oversized folders and separate bundles. Almost all of the material is in very poor condition and difficult to read.


  • Creation: 1890 - 1950

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for access.

Conditions Governing Use

Limited duplication of materials allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


In the fall of 1891, James Doyle and James F. Burns went to Battle Mountain, the most popular spot at the time in the Cripple Creek Gold Mining district. Doyle and Burns would search in hopes of finding land they could invest in. By winter they would find 1/10th of an acre unclaimed and be able to own it on January 22nd, 1892. Discovering the fortune in their small land, they would then travel down the mountain to see W.S. Stratton, owner of the Independence mine and offer him 1/3 interest in their claim in return for legal assistance. Stratton would agree and the Portland Gold Mining Company would be incorporated on February 4th, 1894. The Portland would come under heavy fire with 47 lawsuits in regards to ownership. Stratton hired Allen T. Gunnell and Clarence C. Hamlin to handle the mess. The biggest threat was Eben Smith, president of the Battle Mountain Gold Mining Company, owning mining claims all around Portland at the time. Stratton specifically hired real-estate specialist Verner Z. Reed to tackle the lawsuit and the outcome would be successful: absorption of Battle Mountain and all its property, as well as conjoining with Frank G. Peck and his Black Diamond Company. Nearly two years later since its start up, Portland would grow from 1/10th an acre to 135 acres and total ore production would reach $2.8 Million. While the mine was doing more than well financially, tension and difference in personality grew between management, specifically after a shaft had collapsed on January 4th, 1886, killing 8 miners in total. Burns and Stratton sought to close the mine, while Doyle and Frank Peck found it unnecessary. The feud between Doyle and Burns would grow, and in November of 1898, Doyle would file a lawsuit against Burns in Iowa for mismanagement of corporate funds and a supposed illegal withholding of $700,000 from stockholders. At the same time Doyle would have a warrant sent out for improper Jurisdiction. Doyle, mayor of Victor, would come back with a winning case only to be thrown in jail for seven months. When released, Doyle sold his shares to Irving Howbert and left the company for good. Progress and wealth still kept coming, and soon most of the managers looked to install a railway to between Cripple Creek and Colorado City mills to ship low-grade ores. Tension would rear its ugly head yet again between Stratton/Burns and Peck/Howbert over Peck and Howbert’s outside interest towards mines damaged by flooding and have Portland subsidize these interests. Stratton could do little about the issue, dying shortly after on September 14th, 1902. Burns would win his title as a champion of the working man in 1904, due to his open and fair nature towards his workers and employees during a miners’ strike had broken out among Cripple Creek. Peck and Howbert would disapprove and did their best to change Burns’ mind, but the champion of the working man did not budge. Burns came under more heat from the Miner Owners’ Association, calling them dishonest and corrupt, trying to steal production from Portland to solve their own problems. The mine would be closed on June 9th, 1904 by Governor James H. Peabody, also an owner of mines among Cripple Creek. This closing would be in connection with the current Cripple Creek Mine strike of ’03-’04, and the difference between parties; Peabody and the owners being conservative, while the laborers and miners being liberal. Burns had taken note that this would be the very first time in the United States an operation would be closed by authority that did not conflict with any current law. Production would begin again, but soon Burns would be outvoted by everyone and be rejected his title as President of Portland. He would continue to own most of Portland’s stock, and in 1905 demanded for him and his representatives to look at all of Portland’s current records out of outrage over Peck and Howbert’s outrageous salary raises. This would ultimately start a legal battle between the parties, wearing down Burns and then Peck. The results on Burn’s end however never turned out. Peck was still abusing his control over Portland for his own personal interest. In 1917, Burns would become a member of the directors’ board once again, only to argue more with Peck and die due to deteriorating health on September 22nd, 1917. The future of Portland would be downhill since Burn’s death. Peck would die in 1922, and the aftermath of World War I affected the mining world negatively. In 1929, Howbert would be left with no choice but to hand the Company off to new management, and would quickly be bought out by the Golden Cycle Corporation in 1931.

Resources: Vanderwalker, J. and Levine, B., The Portland: Colorado’s Richest Gold Mine, 1989 Cripple Creek and Victor… Illustrated, 1897 Miners Magazine April, 1904 Levine, B., Cripple Creek Gold: A Centennial History of the Cripple Creek District, 1988


147 linear feet (108 Containers)

Language of Materials



The Portland Mine was discovered in 1892 by James F. Burns and James Doyle. They were quickly involved in numerous claim suits, which were settled by their corporation as the Portland Gold Mining Company and the appointment of their chief rival Winfield S. Stratton as President. With his backing, they were able to buy out rival claims. Prosperous until the early 1920's, bankruptcy forced the Portland's takeover by United Gold Mines Co. in 1934. All the United property was consolidated into the Golden Cycle Corporation's holdings in 1970. The collection includes correspondence, reports, payrolls and other material documenting the day-to-day operation of the company's mines. There are also vouchers, bound volumes and several folders of maps and blueprints.


This collection is arranged in the following series:

Series 1: Correspondence 1902-1949 Series 2: Daily Operations of the Mine Series 3: Legal and Financial Papers Series 4: Employee Material Series 5: Altman Water Company Series 6: Miscellaneous and Material in Deteriorated Condition Series 7: Material in Voucher Boxes, Bound Material, etc.

There are 98 boxes in total with a few oversized folders and separate bundles. Almost all of the material is in very poor condition and difficult to read.

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States