Randolf Mill

And Chamberlain Sampling Works



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Mile Post 35.24

The Randolf Mill and Chamberlain Sampling Works were build on the original Hill smelter site, located east of Black Hawk between the New York and Iron City mills.   In the piece of the 1900 Sanborn map below, the Randolph Mill is the southern structure while the Sampling Works seem to be all of the northern structures

1900 Sanborn
Gilpin Historic Society

The Randolph Mill used amalgamation and concentration processes.  It had 50 stamps, 10 plates, 10 bumping tables, and used water power.  In 1914 operating part of mill consisted of crusher, Challenge feeders, 10 750-pound stamps (53 drops a minute) amalgamation plates, 2 Gilpin County bumping tables, 6 Wiltley tables, electric power.  It's capacity was 75-100 tons.

Randolph Mill (front) and Chamberlain Sampling Works (rear)
Colorado Historic Society

Note, this photo was probably before 1900.  The iron clad elevator which was part of the crushed ore storage of the Sampling Works seen here behind and to the right of the Randolph Mill Stacks were shown in the 1890 Sanborn Map, but was replaced by ruins (see above) in the 1900 Sanborn.

Chamberlain Sampling Works Traffic and Operations by Keith Pashina

The Chamberlain Sampling Works was an important mill in Black Hawk. One reference Professional Paper #94, Ore Treatment, Labor and Royalties, Freight Rates (Chapter XII), by E.S. Bastin, C.W. Henderson, and J.M. Hill. I have a photocopy of this document, provided to me by Lind Wickersham of Tulsa, OK. Here are some interesting quotes from this document:

The sampling works pays the miner for his ore according to certain schedules or contracts based on the assay of the ore for the precious metals… An attempt is made to crush, sample, assay and pay for the ore in one to two days, and in this promptness of payment lies the great advantage of the sampling works to the small producer….If the ore is shipped direct to the smelter a much longer time elapses before payment for it can be received, and as a rule only the larger producers can brook this delay; moreover, the smelters do not handle less than carload lots.


At present the Chamberlain sampling works act almost exclusively as agents for the American Smelting and Refining Co….The sampling works have many contracts with the mining companies whereby the latter can ship their ore either to the sampling works or direct to the American Smelting & Refining Co.; any contracts made by the American Smelting & Refining Co. will be fulfilled by the sampling works if the ore is shipped to the latter. The bulk of the ore from this district goes through the sampling works before going to the smelter.

Next, here is an example of traffic to the Sampling Works in 1907. This information I photocopied, then tabulated, from the Colorado Railroad Museum archives, entitled The Gilpin R.R. Co., Ore Report August, 1907.

The Gilpin R.R. Co., Ore Report for September, 1907

From To Number of Cars Tons Ton Rate Car Rate Total
Ore Traffic
Old Town Mine C. D. Ore Co. (1) 6 43.65 $0.50   $21.80
Barnes Mine C. D. Ore Co. (1) 1     $4.50 $4.50
Druid Mine C. D. Ore Co. (1) 2     $5.00 $10.00
Aduddel Mine C. D. Ore Co. (1) 2     $5.00 $10.00
Saratoga Mine C. D. Ore Co. (1) 2     $5.00 $10.00
Pleasant Valley Mine C. D. Ore Co. (1) 1 4.8   $1.00 $4.80

So, in one month we see 6 different mines shipping to the sampling works in generally in small amounts. I noted that an earlier month ledger showed 17 cars one month from the Old Town Mine, but that seems to be the exception. Also, the document quoted above was published in 1917, when the sampling works was still an active business.

Finally, the same Professional Paper #94 goes on to say:

The Chamberlain sampling works at Black Hawk was built on the site of the Hill smelter soon after its removal to Argo in 1878 and has been operated continuously since that time…

Below are some additional photos of the area.

Glimpses of Golden Gilpin Colorado 1909
 Abbott Collection


Closeup showing the Sampling Works and Randolph, 1909
Abbott Collection

Looking up from Clear Creek
Gilpin Historic Society

Looking up from Clear Creek
Gilpin Historic Society

This view is of the west side of the Randolph Mill. The Randolph’s flume is on the right, with the mill in the far right background. The structure with the stack in front is not the Randolph, but an unnamed building about 200’ west of the mill.
Denver Public Library - Western History Collection

Close up of photo on left.
Denver Public Library - Western History Collection

Hill Smelters which previously occupied the Randolph Mill Site.  1878
Gilpin Historic Society

A view of the east side of the Randolph, and what looks like sampling works structures on the right margin. This is an enlargement of an image from the DPL Western History Collection.

Randolph Mill 1892
Abbott Collection

Randolph Mill and Sampling Works
Keith Pashina Collection

Map by Dan Abbott



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This page was last updated 01/12/08

Copyright 2007 by Mark Baldwin