Before any prospectors in Park County began excavating the mountains, they used placer mining to extract gold from the local waterways. On a basic level, placer mining is a type of surface mining that involves sifting through sediment and mineral deposits to extract and isolate valuable ore: essentially it's "panning for gold!" There are different types of placer mining depending on the environment and types of minerals sought.
You will see placer mines on beaches and in running water typically. Running water placers are also called alluvium placers, referring to the mud within a running stream. Placer mines are used to recover some valuable minerals such as gold, diamonds, gemstones, and platinum.
Placer mines began to appear all over Park County after 1861. Placer gold was found in Tarryall, Fairplay, Alma, Breckenridge, and Leadville. A notable amount came from the beds of the Platte River. Many placer claims existed to the south and west of Alma. The mining town of Montgomery in Hoosier Pass had another small placer gold operation in 1911.
Two notable placer mines in the Alma mining district are Snowstorm, home of the famous Snowstorm dredge, and Cincinnati. In 1882, the Alma Placer Mining Company owned roughly 640 acres of placer mines! The only hindrance is that this type of mining can only be conducted during the short summer months.