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1832-1878: First minerals discovered, Native Americans relinquish lands to white settlers

The Enterprise Mine in 1890
Spanish for "rich," Rico's wealth lies in its mines and the accompanying history. Trappers first worked the valley in 1832-33, taking mainly beaver and other fur-bearing animals. The first gold was discovered in 1866 by Colonel Nash, a Texan who led a team of 18 prospectors. His work was cut short, and in 1869 Sheldon Shafer and Joseph Fearheiler, prospectors heading for Montana, uncovered Nash's beginnings.
©Engel Collection
Anna Engel panning for gold in the 1920's
The Utes drove away many initial miners, and the mining rush didn't truly begin until 1878 when the Utes signed the Brunot Agreement, thus surrendering their land claims in the San Juan Mountains.
©Engel Collection
Historical information provided by Dara Kinsey of the Rico Sun-Times.