By now veteran gamblers and lawmen,
Sam & Lou Blonger hit it big in 1892.
By 1892, Sam and Lou were experienced in the mining business. Their holdings at various times included the Texas Mine in Nevada, possibly the Star Mine in New Mexico, the Blonger and Little Chief near Leadville, the Newport, and perhaps claims near Phillipsburg, Montana and others, good claims and bad unlike brother Joe, who spent half a lifetime prospecting and seemed never to have hit paydirt.
But the Blonger Bros. never had a payoff like the Forest Queen.
Head frame and structures.
Robert J Jackson and Alice Givin facing camera and unknown facing away.
Photo by J.O. Jackson
Headframe and winch house from other side
Photo by Jim Jackson
The Forest Queen was situated at the foot of Pikes Peak, on Ironclad Hill, near Cripple Creek. Though said to have been named by Lou in honor of his wife Nola(?), it was perhaps named instead for the ocean liner that foundered only a few weeks prior after being nearly cut in two by another steamer on the North Sea. Only the captain survived.
Aspen Weekly Times, February 27, 1892
Steamers Collide at Sea.
LONDON, Feb. 26News of a terrible disaster in the North Sea, by which a steamer went to the bottom, carrying with her every soul on board, with only one exception, was received in this city at a late hour to-night.
Only meagre details of the catastrophe have been obtained, but from the dispatches already at hand it is learned that the steamers Loughbrow (British) and Forest Queen came into collision off Flamberough, a village of York county, east of Riding, on the North Sea.
So quickly did the Forest Queen founder that her crew had no chance to save their lives and all hands with the single exception of the captain went down to a watery grave.
The dispatches give no information as to the extent of the damage done to the Loughbrow.
The Forest Queen was a very productive mine. Though it sat idle for some time during World War II, in 1928 it was listed as one of the top producers in the Cripple Creek district ($250,000 that year).
The Norfolk, Forest Queen, WPH and Home mines on Ironclad Hill.
Cripple Creek Morning Times, December 1, 1899
From present indications Blonger, Truett and Reardon are on top of a big body of ore in the 100-foot shaft of the Forest Queen on Ironclad Hill, and a plant of machinery is to be put on the property at once to push developments. The Forest Queen vein has been opened in Captain Thatcher's lease on the Arapahoe, and at that point is thirty feet wide. Good assays have been taken from it.
Cripple Creek Morning Times Dec. 21, 1899
FORREST QUEEN ASSAYS
Blonger, Reardon and Pruett, leasing on the Forest Queen claim, yesterday obtained an assay of 25 per cent lead, $4 in silver and $28 in gold. The assay was from the vein recently encountered at a depth of 106 feet, where the vein is two feet in width.
It surely augmented their ability to make friends and influence people. What's more, among their partners they could count, over the years, three Denver district attorneys and assistants (Dennison, Steele and Jackson), judges (Dennison and Steele) and a justice on the Colorado state supreme court (Steele).
Atlanta Constitution, March 31, 1923
GOLD DISCOVERED AT CRIPPLE CEEK
Convicted Con-Man Holds Interest in Mine, It Is Found.
Denver, Colo., March 30.Gold, in a vein four feet in width and said by mining men to represent a value of thousands of dollars, has been struck in the Forest Queen mine at Cripple Creek, Colo., in which Lou Blonger, convicted leader of Denver's alleged nation-wide confidence ring, holds an ownership interest, it was revealed definitely here today.
The information was received just two days after Blonger, who is 72 years old, was lodged in the Denver county jail following his conviction with the 19 other members of the alleged ring.
Gold was struck in the mine which is held under lease by Edward Gaylord, of Denver, while workmen were boring through from the W.P.H. mine to the Forest Queen to establish an air connection.
Now that had to hurt.
Documents regarding the Forest Queen describe a confusing and sometimes contradictory mix of owners, but Lou retained his ownership till the end. The mine was deeded to his wife upon his death.
Colorado Springs Gazette, July 31, 2003
75 years ago :
What is reported to be the richest strike made in the Cripple Creek district in recent years is said to have occurred in the Forest Queen, the famous Bull Hill mine of the late Lou Blonger of Denver, and now controlled by the Blonger estate, concerning which it is said a quarter interest was once given for a case of whiskey, and in the W.P.H. of the United Gold Mines, adjoining. It is said the ore is running $40 a ton, mine run product.
The Forest Queen site is gone with the resumption of mining in the area,
using modern techniques that have obliterated the site.
So, Sam and Lou are now well-fixed, influential citizens of Denver, elder statesmen of the West, experienced peace officers and detectives, with old friends in business, government, the media and law enforcement, strong ties to the merchants of vice, the gambling fraternity, mining capitalists, and of course the bunko men, with working capital to burn. The stage is set.
Scott near the Queen's former location in 2007.