Gold Hill’s rills soon to be remnant of yesteryear

       What took nearly half a century to make - the erosion scars from the former Golden Cycle gold-milling operation - may be eliminated in less than a month. The century-old erosion scars along the face of Gold Hill
Mesa above Fountain Creek were on their way to
elimination this week. TOP: How the hill looked April 11, in a
view from Promontory Point Open Space. BOTTOM: How
the the hill looked a few months ago from the same spot.
Westsdie Pioneer photos
       A D-9 bulldozer started reshaping the hillside above Fountain Creek and Westside Highway 24 last week.
       "That's a big wow," commented an unabashedly impressed Bob Willard, manager of the Gold Hill Mesa Township Limited Liability Corporation, as he watched the big machine flatten the time-honored countours while shoving tons of tailings dirt down the hill.
       Some of the scars (also called rills) along the roughly 30-acre problem area are as deep as 60 feet, he said. He reported that between 1906 and 1949, Golden Cycle processed $6-7 billion worth of gold, leaving behind 11.4 million tons of cyanide-laden tailings. The rills were created by dam wash-over from the company's tailings pond; stormwater in the years since have deepened their narrow gullies.
       "We had to solve the tailings issue," said Willard, a Cheyenne-area resident who for years has been planning Gold Hill Mesa as a residential-commercial project with 1,000-plus homes. "The state wanted us to clear them out sooner than later, so that's what we're doing."
       The rill-elimination effort is starting northeast of the old dam, working its way west around the side of the hill. Depending on weather, Gold Hill Mesa construction manager Barry Brinton estimated that all the rills could be gone by the end of this month.
       The redone slope will be terraced for homes that will be built in a future phase of the 210-acre Gold Hill Mesa subdivision. More immediate plans call for installation of a drainage system that will control runoff, directing it to a 1 ½-acre detention pond that is to be constructed this summer between the base of the hill and Fountain Creek.
       The pond will have a filtering mechanism by which heavy, potentially toxic materials will settle to the bottom before the water is released into Fountain Creek.
       The construction scene for the pond promises to be impressive. Brinton said he expects to have as many as 15 "scrapers" (earth-moving vehicles) simultaneously on the site by summertime.
       A second pond, farther west and serving the same purpose, will be built at a later date. After that, the creek itself will be worked on to clean it up and improve its channel, Willard said.
       Fixing the problem will cost the LLC about $2 million, according to Willard's estimates.
       Surprisingly, he revealed that he has heard from some people who are sorry that the rills are being removed. Because of their century-long history, "they are near and dear to some people," he said.
       Other Gold Hill Mesa updates…
       Work is well underway on Filing 1, which is slated for 168 homes and a community center (called "The Exchange") on 52 acres just north of Lower Gold Camp Road, next to the nearly completed Crown Hill Mesa subdivision to the east. Located beside a large community park, the center will be an 18,000-square-foot building that will also include shops and services.
       Filing 1 homes should be ready for occupancy by the first quarter of 2007, Willard said. They will consist of attached and single-family homes on relatively small lots. The attached homes on smaller lots will sell in the low $200,000 range, the single-family homes on larger lots will be in the low $300,000 range, Willard said.

Westside Pioneer article