If you go

What: Ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Blue Bird Mine complex on Boulder County's Caribou Ranch open space

When: 2 p.m. Thursday

Where: The Blue Bird Mine complex, which is a two-mile hike from the Caribou Ranch trailhead. Open space staffers recommend that hikers allow one hour to hike to the ceremony. Volunteer naturalists will lead a nature hike back to the trailhead after the ceremony.

More info: bouldercounty.org/openspace

Almost exactly 139 years ago, prospectors in the scrappy mining boomtown of Caribou -- just northwest of present-day Nederland -- were buzzing with news of the discovery of a nearby silver vein.

"Hearing everybody on the streets talking about the six thousand dollar ore of the Blue Bird, your correspondent proceeded at once to visit this lode," read an article in the Caribou Post on July 8, 1871. "The ore contains blue and green carbonates of copper, of the most brilliant hues, the lode taking its name from the blue."

On Thursday, the recently restored remains of the Blue Bird Mine complex -- including a bunkhouse dating back to at least 1877 and a stone caretaker's house that was built when mining resumed after the Great Depression -- will be officially opened to the public at a 2 p.m. ceremony at Boulder County's Caribou Ranch open space.

In the past, visitors hiking on the Blue Bird Loop trail at Caribou Ranch have been able to see the mine buildings from behind a fence.

"We've stabilized a bunch of the historical structures in the complex, built up a few small fences, put in some interpretive signs and put in a picnic table," said Brent Wheeler, operations manager for Parks and Open Space. "Where you used to stop and peer over the fence, that will now be open, and you'll be able to wander around and linger around the buildings themselves."

The Blue Bird Mine was intermittently active for more than 90 years before closing permanently to mining in the early 1960s. In between active mining periods, the complex -- which sits near the edge of a quiet meadow with expansive views -- became a favorite "whistle stop" for tourists visiting the mountains on the Switzerland Trail Railroad in the early 1900s.

Once mining ended for good, the Blue Bird complex didn't stay quiet for long. In the summer of 1965, a remake of the movie "Stagecoach" -- featuring Bing Crosby and Slim Pickens -- was filmed in the immediate area with the bunkhouse taking new life as a stagecoach stop.

In between its life as a movie backdrop and the time the complex was purchased along with surrounding lands by New York record producer James Guercio in 1971, the area also became a hangout for the notorious STP family (Serenity, Tranquility and Peace), a band of hard-core hippies known for heavy drug use.

Guercio sold large parts of the Caribou Ranch to the city and county of Boulder beginning in the mid-1990s to be used for open space land. The Blue Bird Mine complex itself became public land in 2000.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Laura Snider at 303-473-1327 or sniderl@dailycamera.com.