Archive | United States Mining History

Moab uranium tailing cleanup still going after 13 years – by Max Roth (Fox 13 Salt Lake City – May 12, 2021)

https://www.fox13now.com/

MOAB, Utah — Before Moab was a Mecca for outdoor recreation in Utah, it was the hub of cold war uranium mining; and in the rush to process the ore for nuclear weapons, officials made a terrible decision we’re still paying for.

That decision made in 1956 was to build a uranium processing mill along the banks of the most important river in the American Southwest: the Colorado River.

“When they established a mill, there wasn’t very much thought given to protecting the river,” said Russell McCallister, the director of the federal cleanup. Continue Reading →

Remembering Mineral’s mining history – by Toby Cox (The Central Virginian – May 12, 2021)

https://www.thecentralvirginian.com/

The names of places often hint at their history. Virginia and Louisa County were both named after members of England’s royal family, recalling the United States’ pre-revolutionary times. The name of the Town of Mineral also recalls its distinctive history, as a mining hub.

Mineral was originally called Tolersville, named after William F. Toler who owned a tavern where the Mineral Volunteer Fire Department is currently situated. The town was renamed Mineral in 1902 when the mining boom in Central Virginia was at its height.

Mineral is located on the gold-pyrite belt that runs from Stafford County southwest through Culpeper, Orange, Spotsylvania, Fauquier, and Louisa counties. Continue Reading →

Forgotten chain of Alaska mining history – by A.J. Roan (North of 60 Mining News – April 30, 2021)

https://www.miningnewsnorth.com/

After the United States’ purchase of Alaska, and before the boom brought on by the Klondike Gold Rush, a small island just off the Alaska Peninsula would have gold-bearing quartz discovered, inevitably booming a small trade hub known as Delarov, or as it came to be known, Unga.

As it stretches like a broken bridge from the continent of North America to the continent of Asia, many forget the large chain of islands that occupies an area of 6,821 square miles and extends nearly 1,200 miles westward from the Alaska Peninsula to the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, is in fact inhabited and even a part of the great northern state.

The Alaska Peninsula and 167 named Aleutian Islands, extending more than 1,000 miles off Southwest Alaska form a border between the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea. Continue Reading →

Mine Tales: Oracle Ridge drew Buffalo Bill Cody, provided tungsten for Edison’s lights – by William Ascarza (Arizona Daily Star – April 11, 2021)

https://tucson.com/

The northeastern slope of the Santa Catalina Mountains has a long history of sporadic gold production. The country is rugged, cut by deep canyons including Southern Belle, Campo Bonito and Pepper Sauce, all running parallel and eastward to the San Pedro Valley.

Gold and silver have been found in the veins along the contacts of dikes in the granites. Veins carrying gold, silver and tungsten have been found in sedimentary rock between the contact points of granite and sedimentaries comprised of slates, sandstones, limestones, quartzite and conglomerates.

Located at the northern end of the Santa Catalina Mountains, the town of Oracle was founded in 1880. It was christened after the nearby Oracle Mine, so named by its claimant, Canadian prospector Albert Weldon, who sailed around Cape Horn on a ship named “The Oracle” in 1875. Continue Reading →

History in Focus: The atomic age – by James Neton (Craig Daily Press – April 10, 2021)

https://www.craigdailypress.com/

In November of 1953, a small Cessna 179 piloted by Russell Cutter, a geologist for Arrowhead Uranium Corporation, flew in low over the area just north of Lay and Mabyell.

The readings from his on board portable Halross Scintillation Counter, a device used to measure radiation and the presence of uranium, confirmed Cutter’s hopes. The atomic age had arrived in Moffat County.

After the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended WWII, the Soviet Union detonated their first bomb in 1949. The ensuing arms race set off a scramble to discover and mine uranium, the crucial fissile material for nuclear weapons and energy. As demand skyrocketed, attention quickly focused on previously known deposits in our local Brown’s Park sandstone. Continue Reading →

The Nome Gold Rush and Three Lucky Swedes – by John Matsuzak (Kelly Codetectors – October 23, 2020)

https://www.kellycodetectors.com/

The California Gold Rush certainly was in a far-off land for the Americans of the time, who had to trek long distances to get to their final destination. But the 49’ers had nothing on those brave adventurers who went to Nome, Alaska to seek their fortunes in 1899. Which brings us to the Nome Gold Rush.

While Nome, Alaska was owned by the United States at the time of the Nome Gold Rush, it might as well have been Mars, both in terms of getting there and in terms of surviving in the harsh and unforgiving climate.

Despite the apocryphal quip often attributed to Mark Twain, that the worst winter he ever saw was June in San Francisco, there is simply no comparison between a miserable Northern California summer and any day of the week in Nome, Alaska. Continue Reading →

Howard Balsley, uranium pioneer, preserved the past – by Heila Ershadi (Moab Sun News – March 21, 2019)

https://www.moabsunnews.com/

Howard Balsley is known in history books as a Moab uranium pioneer. In the book “The Moab Story: From Cowpokes to Bike Spokes,” author Tom McCourt writes that Balsley is “considered by many to be the father of the uranium industry in the United States.”

McCourt’s account says that Balsley came to Moab in 1908 and primarily made his living as a forest ranger, but also prospected and assisted others in their mining endeavors, even before the WWII uranium boom.

Balsley contracted with a number of small-scale miners across the Colorado Plateau to regularly make 50-ton shipments of uranium and vanadium ores to the Vitro Manufacturing Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Continue Reading →

[South Dakota] The Black Hills Gold Rush – by John Matuszak (Kelly Collectors – August 31, 2020)

Deadwood, South Dakota (Wiki Image)

https://www.kellycodetectors.com/

Fans of the television series Deadwood will be somewhat familiar with the Black Hills Gold Rush. It is this gold rush that forms the background of the television series. Indeed, it is one of the more transformative events in American history, despite being somewhat lesser-known.

There were rumors of gold in the Black Hills region in the early years of the 19th Century. Sioux Indians were rumored to have been mining gold in the region as early as 1860. However, there was one small thing preventing Americans from mining gold in the region: the Treaty of Fort Laramie, which recognized the land as belonging to the Sioux.

There is another point of law that is relevant to the Black Hills Gold Rush: The General Mining Act of 1872. This allows Americans to mine for minerals anywhere on federal land. The problem, for American prospectors, is that none of the land in the Black Hills was federal land — it belonged to the Sioux. Continue Reading →

Coal Miners Helped Shape America’s Labor Landscape. Their Industry Is Fading, But That History Is Worth Remembering – by Mark A. Bradley (Time Magazine – October 13, 2020)

https://time.com/

Ahuge sigh of relief could be heard across the coalfields on Sept. 16 when Murray Energy Holdings, America’s fourth largest coal producer, announced that a federal bankruptcy judge had approved its Chapter 11 plan to sell all its assets to American Consolidated Natural Resources (ACNR), a new company set up by its former creditors.

ACNR is now the largest privately owned coal operator in the United States. Its owners hope to extract about 35 million tons of bituminous coal a year from its pits, and they have agreed to hire United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) coal miners, who once worked for Murray, to help them do it.

This is good news for the union’s sorely pressed coal miners, who could use the work. How long Murray’s reincarnation will last, however, is anyone’s guess. Continue Reading →

Visit To Virginia City Worth Its Weight In Silver (Escalon Times – August 25, 2020)

https://www.escalontimes.com/

There was a time I would go to Virginia City eight times or so a year. It was back when my idea of fun was driving to the base of Geiger Grade off Highway 395, hopping on a racing bicycle, heading up to Virginia City, dropping down to Carson City, climbing up Spooner Grade, pedaling by Lake Tahoe, struggling up Mt. Rose and then pushing it to the limits downhill often topping 55 mph.

It was 88 miles of pure bicycling bliss involving 8,200 feet of climbing that allowed me to make two trips to the Sizzler’s salad bar for heaping full plates plus dessert in south Reno afterwards.

One time after doing the loop the guys I was with decided it might be nice to see what was in Virginia City instead of pedaling through it at 18 mph without stopping. That is when I fell in love with the place as well as the history of the Comstock. Continue Reading →

Tommy Knockers and the coal mines: A PA legend – by Emma Downey (North Central PA.com – August 8, 2020)

https://www.northcentralpa.com/

The coal mines of Pennsylvania were dark, dirty, and deadly. Among the many stories, folksongs, and superstitions of the coal miners comes the legend of a curious creature: The Tommy Knocker.

Tommy Knockers pronounced “knacker,” were described as small, little men who worked alongside the miners inside the mines. The creatures were known to be mischievous, described as stealing miners’ tools or food, but also benevolent helpers.

The creatures were blamed for missing tools and stolen items as well as saving the lives of many miners. The miners believed the creatures would “knock” on the side of the mine to warn miners of an impending collapse. Continue Reading →

History preserved: Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority turns restored structure over to city – by Jackie Jahfetson (The Mining Journal – July 1, 2020)

https://www.miningjournal.net/

MARQUETTE — Driving west into Marquette along U.S. 41, passers-by come across a stone structure that resembles an igloo on the Iron Ore Heritage Trail.

Were those curious aware at one time the kiln was used to burn wood into charcoal which fed blast furnaces that converted iron ore and limestone into pig iron during the late 19th century?

After the last of the 43 Carp River kilns collapsed in a heavy wet spring snowstorm in 2016, the historical sandstone structure has been resurrected and was officially turned over to the city of Marquette Monday during a ceremony. Continue Reading →

Mine Tales: Miami-area mines often led Arizona’s copper production in 20th century – by William Ascarza (Arizona Daily Star – June 8, 2020)

https://tucson.com/

The Miami-Inspiration Mining District has a long history of copper production. Some of its most prominent mining properties include the Inspiration, Miami and Copper Cities mines, which led Arizona’s copper production at intervals during the 20th century.

The area known as Miami was first noted for reddish outcrops that enticed prospectors like Black Jack Newman to invest and develop. Newman’s initial acquisition totaled 13 claims comprised of 260 acres.

With the backing of J. Parke Channing, a successful mining engineer who optioned Newman’s claims, the Miami Copper Co. was formed in 1908 with the financial backing of the Adolph Lewisohn family in New York. Continue Reading →

Homestake history detailed in Mitchell book – by Tim Velder (Rapid City Journal – December 2, 2002)

https://rapidcityjournal.com/

The history of the Homestake Mining Company in the Black Hills is a parallel with the overall history of the region, taking it from the unsettled Indian country in the mid-1870s, to an industrially-developed area rich with natural resources.

Steven T. Mitchell, a former manager at the Homestake Mine, has detailed this historical transition and permanent presence the mining company had in this area in a new book to be released this month titled “Nuggets to Neutrinos: The Homestake Story.”

Mitchell, a life-long resident of the Black Hills, recently discussed his new book during a special presentation at the Adams Museum. His book tells the story of how the Homestake Mine came into existence and its development into the largest underground mine in the world. Continue Reading →

Sense of Place: With One Last Stick of Dynamite, Two Miners Decided Joplin’s Fate – by Claire Kidwell (KSMU.org – June 18, 2018)

https://www.ksmu.org/

Today, the City of Joplin is a thriving hub for health care and transportation. But there was a time when it was no more than a collection of tents huddled around a series of mines.

Walking into the Joplin History Museum, you’re greeted by the two resident cats who watch over the building—and an entire wing designed to look like an old mine.

Old mining equipment rests in the front lawn. It’s immediately obvious how much the mining industry once influenced the area. Continue Reading →