Historical Society to Receive $23,250 State Funds to Purchase Rose Lime Kiln

Directors of Hinsdale County Historical Society were elated on Monday morning this week with confirmation it will receive $23,250 from the State Historic Fund for purchase of the Rose Lime Kiln, the iconic brick chimney located on upper Henson Creek between Capitol City and Rose’s Cabin.
Purchase price for the chimney and four mining claims totaling 30 acres is $29,000, with tentative closing date on acquisition of the land and chimney from its owner, Ronald Tharp, Jr., to the historical society set for March, 2019, or earlier.
The realty transaction is being handled by Mitch Murphy and Michael Murphy of Team Murphy Realty.
Gunnison Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management has pledged the remaining 25 percent, $7,500, of the purchase price and related costs, including closing costs and first year taxes.
The State Historic Fund grant request was drafted by historical society directors Shawna Shidler and Grant Houston; Hinsdale Historical Society has a long history of leveraging State Historic Fund grants dating back to the first round of grants after the fund was established — utilizing proceeds from the state’s limited stakes gambling revenues — when it received $2,500 for collections documentation in 1992. Since then, successively in 1998 and 1999, the historical society received cumulative $64,168 for interior and exterior refurbishment of the museum building in Lake City, as well as later State Historic Fund grants which were used to stabilize the superintendent’s cabin at Tobasco Mine and the boarding house and compressor building at New Golconda Mine.
The Rose Lime Kiln was built in 1881 by Capitol City entrepreneur George S. Lee. Limestone from the adjacent Mary Lee and Rose Lee mining claims — which will also be acquired by the historical society — was carted down the mountainside by burro and then roasted in the 44’ tall brick kiln. The resulting lime was marketed in Lake City and Capitol City at $1 to $1.25 per bushel, the lime’s primary use being as an ingredient in chinking between logs and interior plaster walls.
According to the society’s application for funding, Lee became financially embarrassed when the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad failed to build into Lake City in 1882, and the lime kiln only operated two seasons, 1881 and 1882.
The kiln was abandoned shortly thereafter but remains remarkably well-preserved 137 years after construction, in large degree because of its lack of accessibility. The historical society worked with the present landowner’s grandfather, the late B. Carroll Tharp, to place the lime kiln on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
Once purchase of the kiln and surrounding mining claims is complete this winter, Hinsdale Historical Society plans to prune and selectively remove trees to increase visibility of the chimney and, long-term, will work with the BLM on a public trail system accessing the kiln.
SILVER WORLD plans a more in-depth article on the lime kiln’s notable history, and George S. Lee, at a later date.