The Wagon Wheel Gap Fluorspar Mine and Mill provided the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I) with fluorspar, a material essential to the manufacture of steel, and became part of CF&I’s holdings in a manner typical of the steel company’s vertical integration structure.
For most of its life, the mine was the primary supplier of fluorspar to CF&I, for a time the largest steel manufacturing company in the western United States and the largest employer in Colorado by the 1900s. The fluorspar mine was part of CF&I’s business strategy wherein the company owned or controlled all aspects of steel production.
CF&I initially acquired fluorspar from mines in Boulder County until the Wagon Wheel Gap mine opened in 1913. From that point on, the mine was CF&I’s only fluorspar supplier until it eventually closed in 1950. The mine and mill are a good representation of a moderate-scale industrial mining and milling complex from the principal period of hard-rock mining in Colorado. The complex contains character-defining mine elements, including the mine, aerial trams, the mill, supporting shop buildings, explosives magazines, and worker housing. The mill is one of the few remaining concentration mills in Colorado that contains much of its original equipment.