Front Range

Hidden Gem

March 2013

More than 150 years ago, prospectors were lured to the Rocky Mountains by the promise of gold and valuable minerals, and to this day the thought of untapped riches baits adventurers deep into the Centennial State’s rugged hills. These pursuits are captured in a new docu-series from the Weather Channel entitled Prospectors, which debuts this month. 

The show follows Colorado-based gemstone miners to the tops of the state’s 14,000-foot peaks as they wield picks and sledgehammers to unearth some of the world’s most desired rocks: topaz, aquamarine, and rhodochrosite. Prospectors cast member Steve Brancato of Florissant has made a decade-long career of searching for these attractive minerals. In 2004, Brancato discovered the largest deposit of aquamarine ever found in North America near the summit of Mt. Antero, about 30 miles northwest of Salida. Brancato struck a deal to display the exquisite gems at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and returned to roaming the Rockies in search of another landmark discovery. The series, Brancato says, “is going to show people that there is wealth right in their backyards.”

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$75,000: Amount of money a modern-day prospector can make in one season—about 40 days of work.