HISTORY OF THE MINE
In 1952, W.H. Cardwell and his son, Grady M. Cardwell, a retired military professional, chose a new career path considered quite unusual for the time—mining.
Though known as one of the most challenging and dangerous industries in the world, the Cardwells approached the move with great determination, eventually choosing Mt. Antero in Central Colorado as their target.
At 14,276 feet, Mt. Antero is the highest summit in the Sawatch Range, a string of peaks that include eight of the highest in Colorado. To this day, Mt. Antero is one of the most unforgiving environments to mine, which posed great challenges to the Cardwells who began their adventure without the assistance of modern equipment or machinery.
Despite these difficulties, the Cardwells persisted, knowing the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 made the nation eager to discover new elements and minerals to aid in its nuclear projects. Grady Cardwell, using a combination of military strategies, such as field analysis and the use of the famous Wannamaker's reports, thus began construction for a road to the top of Mt. Antero.
Mt. Antero boasts some of the most ruthless granite complexes in the world, with boulders large enough to smash a house. To get them off the mountain, Grady used blasting techniques he learned in the military and was soon cutting the eight-mile road—now known as CR 162—from the bottom of Mt. Antero to the top. Though the process was slow and arduous, the construction of the road was testament that nothing would stand in the way of the Cardwells’ dream.
With the road complete, the Cardwells staked all of Mt. Antero's peaks to secure mineral rights, eventually developing one of the most famous rare earth sites known today. Though they’d sought beryllium, pit after pit produced gems and crystals like aquamarine, phenakite, and 22 other strategic elements only found on Mt. Antero.
In the 1970s, 20 years after Grady Cardwell began mining on Mt. Antero, operations were at last focused solely on finding these gems and crystals. It was then, that Grady retired and handed the operation over to his son, Tommy Cardwell.
In collaboration with the Colorado School of Mines, Tommy began a ten-year field study that concluded with the discovery of the most economical, efficient, and environmentally conscious methods for extracting gemstone on a commercial scale.
In 1994, Tommy and his son, Craig, began Mt. Antero Treasures, the same business Craig and Tracie, run today. Together, they produce some of the world’s finest aquamarine gems to date. With the addition of a cutting-edge skin care line made exclusively from the same rare mineral recovered from Mt. Antero and appearances on the hit reality series, Prospectors, they’ve ensured this long-running family tradition is poised to carry on for generations to come.