The Story of the Christ of the Mines Shrine
In 1959 the town of Silverton was in a bad place. Much of the mining industry had shut down and left the area and the population was on a steady downward spiral with little reason for optimism. In these dark times a group of men met in town and looked for a way to change this trajectory. They found inspiration in their christian faith and decided to change the town’s direction by erecting a giant statue of Jesus on the hill overlooking Silverton. The Italian masonry community stepped up and erected a large shell wall to protect the 16 foot marble statue. They named it the Christ of the Mines Shrine to commemorate the many people who’ve given their lives to this dangerous profession as they prayed for a better future than they’d known through the 1930’s and 1940’s.
It worked! Only a few months later the American Tunnel reopened and brought jobs, money, and prosperity back to town. Need more? The second amazing development came with respect to the pine trees planted behind the shrine. Almost no one thought they could grow but with a lot of prayers the 1000 seedlings took root where they now frame the massive 12 ton statue.
Finally, the shrine is credited for saving the lives of the men working at the Sunnyside Mine. In 1978 Emma Lake collapsed into the Sunnyside and then down through the connecting mine shafts and out into the Animas. Had anyone been working there at the time it would have been a disaster. But, by the grace of god, it occurred on a Sunday night when no one was there. Instead of a tragedy it was a miracle!
To get to the Christ of the Mines Shrine you’ll first need to find the Shrine Road which goes from the North end of 15th Street over to highway 550 about a 1/4 mile south of the Turnoff for Silverton. It does require a short hike to get to the actual shrine if you drive there, but the shrine is typically accessible to just about anyone who wants it bad enough and has a good helping hand.
If you want to walk up from town then just go up 10th street and keep walking up. You can’t miss it. It will take about 15 mins each way from the Brewery and will require about 500 feet of climbing.
Check out this cool 360 Google Maps image which links to a google map with the exact location. Click and drag it!