Saturday, September 14, 2013

Christ of the Mines Shrine - Redemption in Silverton

Christ of the Mines Shrine in Silverton

High above the clouds in the lofty San Juan Mountains, the Great Redeemer has forgiven the town of Silverton for its wicked ways. Silverton was a major player during the gold and silver rush that steamrolled through Colorado during the late 1880s. The frontier outpost was a "Sin City" where gambling, boozing and prostitution, ran rampant.

Later, when the price of silver collapsed, Silverton seemed destined to suffer the same fate as the other played-out mining camps in the area. Out west, frontier justice prevails so the community would probably vanish, becoming just another ghostly reminder of the glory days.

By the 1950s, the town was struggling to survive. Father Joseph Halloran spearheaded a proposal to erect a shrine honoring Christ that would be dedicated to the miners. A last, desperate attempt to revitalize the dispirited community, it would be located on the barren Anvil Mountain just north of the equally lifeless town.

They decided the shrine should be of such size and magnitude that anyone approaching Silverton could readily see it overlooking the town. The alcove was built from native stone but the sculpture was carved from Italian marble quarried in Carrara, Italy, famous as the source for Michelangelo's David.

The 12-ton, 16-foot tall statue of Jesus was shipped into Galveston, Texas, and trucked up to Silverton. The whole town turned out for the dedication ceremony which took place on August 24, 1959. People from Silverton are convinced that three miracles attributed to the holy shrine have occurred since then.

A Resurrection - Silverton was dying a slow death because of a depressed economy. Shortly after the shrine was completed, mining in the San Juans was revived. A uranium company announced it was purchasing the Sunnyside Mine and planning to dig the American Tunnel which would provide access into the lower portion of the structure. Silverton soon enjoyed a period of unprecedented prosperity.

Successful Seedlings - Newly transferred priest, Father Joseph McGuinnes, wanted to landscape behind the shrine with a grove of trees. Locals informed him that it was impossible for anything to grow in the rocky soil of Anvil Mountain. Nevertheless, he proceeded to acquire 1,000 seedlings and defiantly planted them in the spring. Generous water and prayer nurtured them through the summer but most doubted they would survive the winter. If you visit today, take notice of the Scotch Pine forest that serves as an improbable backdrop.

The Great Flood - On June 4, 1978, Lake Emma broke loose in a flash flood that rushed through the Sunnyside Mine. The powerful deluge destroyed all of the underground workings and poured out the lower portal. Incredibly there were no injuries or loss of life because the disaster happened during a rare time when the shaft was vacant, a Sunday night.

During the summer, families flock to the high altitude oasis where they explore the gorgeous surroundings via Jeep, ATV or the Narrow Gauge Railroad. By offering unforgettable memories of a priceless landscape, Silverton appears to have struck it rich in a completely different industry, tourism. Silverton's redemption is further proof that if you believe in what you are doing, you can overcome any obstacle. A little faith really will move mountains.

Silverton is situated in the lofty San Juans

A shrine honoring Christ dedicated to the miners

It's located on Anvil Mountain

The alcove is native stone, the statue is Italian marble

The Great Redeemer

Three miracles have been attributed to the shrine

The shrine overlooks the town of Silverton

Faith will move mountains

2 comments:

  1. love the pcitures, what camera did u use?

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    Replies
    1. I used a Nikon Cool Pix for the pictures of the Shrine but I also use Apple's built in iPhone camera a lot. It's very convenient and takes great pictures.

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