Arthur Lakes contributed enormously to the geological and mining sciences in the western United States as a geologist, teacher, writer, and artist over a period of more than four decades, beginning in 1869.
Born in England, Arthur Lakes came to the United States in 1865 and found his way to Colorado, where he was hired to teach at Jarvis Hall Collegiate School in Golden, Colorado in 1869. Lakes and Edward Berthoud, who taught geology at the fledgling Colorado Territorial School of Mines, established a “geological cabinet,” which eventually grew into the world famous Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum. When Lakes discovered dinosaur bones along the Dakota hogback of the Front Range in 1877, his fame grew instantly. In 1880, he was hired as the permanent instructor of geology and curator at the School of Mines.
Lakes published his first booklet, A Mining Map of the San Juans, in 1882. Samuel F. Emmons hired Arthur Lakes to help with research, sketching, and field work for the Leadville project, which culminated in the publication of the celebrated Geology and Mining Industry of Leadville, Colorado with Atlas in 1886. Lakes wrote The Trinidad Coal Region, The Coal Field of Crested Butte, and The Geology of the Aspen Region in 1886; The Geology of Colorado Coal Deposits in 1888; and The Geology of Colorado Ore Deposits in 1889, which he used as a textbook at the School of Mines.
The much-beloved professor of geology served the school until 1893, when he resigned to take a position as Associate Western Editor of the Colliery Engineer and Metal Miner in their new Denver office. As a leading mining journalist, he traveled to remote mining districts, reporting on the geology, the lay of the land, and the possibilities of production, in addition to the scenery and lifestyles. His most famous contributions were his reporting of the Cripple Creek district in the 1890’s. He popularized mining through weekly articles in over two dozen different journals, including Scientific American, Mining and Scientific Press, Mining Science, Mining World, Ores and Metals, and the Colliery Engineer and its descendant, Mines and Minerals.
In all, Arthur Lakes published over 800 articles and five books—three editions of Prospecting in North America and two editions of Geology of Colorado and Western Ore Deposits. All were illustrated by his “pen sketches,” which showed panoramic views, geologic maps, and sketches of minerals, rocks, and fossils.
In 1902, Lakes became the lead consulting mining geologist for the American Exploitation Company in Denver, an investment group that supported extractive industries that ranged from gypsum and limestone quarries to precious metal mines. He continued to serve as a mining consultant until 1912, when he moved to Nelson, British Columbia to live with his sons, both mining engineers.
Still writing about mines, drawing, and painting, Arthur Lakes died in November 1917 in Nelson. His contribution to the modern geological realm is cemented over the doorway of the Colorado School of Mines Arthur Lakes Library.