Archive | United States Mining History

Mine Tales: Rich Tombstone mines were a lure for prospectors – by William Ascarza (Arizona Daily Star – September 16, 2013)

Tombstone, renowned for its gunfights, gambling halls, brothels and bars, was a silver mining town of great wealth during the decade known as “The Roarin’ ’80s” in the 19th century.

Although small mines existed in 1857 in what would later become known as the Tombstone district, it wasn’t until 20 years later that prospector Edward L. Schieffelin discovered the rich silver deposits that attracted a mass migration of miners to the area.

The future town’s name was taken from an encounter between Schieffelin and soldiers from Fort Huachuca, who warned the prospector that all he would find in the area would be his tombstone. Continue Reading →

Museum to serve as unifier for history of coal mining, miners – by Eddie Trizzino (Times West Virginian – December 12, 2019)

FAIRMONT – Curators of Fairmont’s coal mining museum will unveil the first phase of an expansion project this weekend along with hosting a Coal Miners Swap Meet.

Located on the third floor of the Arts and Antiques Marketplace at 205 Adams St., the coal mining museum is more than doubling in size to represent the coal history of Monongalia, Harrison, Preston, Taylor and Barbour counties alongside its current Marion County exhibit.

“We’re dedicating some space to each of the Fairmont field counties,” said Mike Rohaly, president of the Northern Appalachian Coal Mining Heritage Association. “We would like to get there, have a little bit more cohesion between our six counties.” Continue Reading →

Coal and the Industrial Revolution – by Dr. Thomas G. Andrews ( – March 7, 2019)

Dr. Thomas G. Andrews is the Assistant Professor of History at the University of Colorado.

As of 1860, the United States was an industrial laggard. Great Britain, France, and Germany each produced more goods than their transatlantic counterpart. By 1900, however, U.S. industrial production exceeded “the combined manufacture of its three main rivals.” Why, and with what consequences?

Rise of Fossil Fuels

Most textbooks provide at least a few glimpses of the transformation of the U.S. into a fossil-fueled nation: a photo of child laborers outside a Pennsylvania coal mine, a statistic on rising coal production, perhaps a brief mention of the Ludlow Massacre of 1914 (in which Colorado National Guardsmen killed 18 men, women, and children during a miners’ strike in southern Colorado).

Aside from these disconnected tidbits, though, textbooks offer little insight into the profound historical significance of energy, nor do they provide a coherent interpretation of what the adoption of fossil fuels portended for the nation’s economy and environment. Continue Reading →

On The Colorado River’s Banks, A Toxic Pile Continues To Shrink – by Molly Marcello (KZMU Radio – October 21, 2019)

In a park, nestled in a red rock canyon outside Moab, Utah — a short drive from a giant pile of uranium tailings — a crowd gathered for a celebration. Elected officials and community members mingled, and enjoyed refreshments. Volunteers placed pieces of yellow cake in small paper bowls.

It was a facetious nod to the gathering’s purpose: to celebrate the removal of 10 million tons of toxic uranium tailings from the banks of the Colorado River.

“You never would have thought you would have all these people congratulating themselves in the community on moving 10 million tons,” said Sarah Fields, executive director of the nonprofit Uranium Watch. “They seem to be really dedicated to getting this done.” Continue Reading →

Mine tales: Bisbee’s famed Lavender Pit wasn’t its only open-pit mine – by William Ascarza (Arizona Daily Star – October 14, 2019)

Bisbee, in the Mule Mountains of southeastern Arizona, has an extensive mining history dating from the 1870s. It is said the value of copper produced from the Copper Queen in 1925 alone was valued 10 times more than the cost of the Gadsden Purchase, which was $10 million in 1854.

The first open pit mine at Bisbee was the Sacramento pit comprising 35 acres. It began as a shaft in 1911 and six years later developed as an open pit.

Extensive geological research had determined copper ore deposits throughout the Bisbee district resulting from a large mass of intrusive granite porphyry pushed up into the surrounding schist and limestone. The copper was deposited in limestone traps forming ore bodies. Over time, progressive layers of barren limestone were formed on top, with the entire mass tilting southeastward. Continue Reading →

BUTTE, MONTANA: World Museum of Mining (Atlas – September 2019)

The World Museum of Mining sits on the grounds of a formerly active mine and boasts many different original structures and equipment, encapsulating a major part of Butte, Montana’s, rich mining history.

By the late 19th century to the early 20th century, the town had established itself as one of the major copper boomtowns of the American West. At that time, copper was in high demand and was needed for new technologies, including the use of electric power. By 1910, Butte was dubbed “the richest hill on Earth,” as it had many different mines sprawled around its city limits.

One such mine that was unveiled within the city in 1875. It was known as the “Orphan Girl Mine,” also nicknamed “Orphan Annie” or just “The Girl,” because of its desirably cool working temperatures (55 to 56 degrees Fahrenheit). Continue Reading →

4 Investigates: Abandoned uranium mines continue to threaten the Navajo Nation – by Colton Shone ( – August 19, 2019)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There are hundreds of abandoned uranium mines scattered across the Navajo Nation.

The clean-up process has been slow for those who live right in the heart of them. For many, it’s been a decades-long fight for the removal of “hot dirt” and there’s still no real end in sight. Red Water Pond Road Community Association is home for Edith Hood. She and her family have lived there, a few miles east of Gallup, for generations.

“We had a medicine man living across the way,” she said. It’s a remote village on Navajo land surrounded by beauty and radioactive waste. There is tons of “hot dirt” left behind from the nearby abandoned Northeast Churchrock Uranium Mine and the abandoned Kerr-Mcgee Uranium Mine Complex. Continue Reading →

Washington continues critical inquiries into rare earths and uranium supply chains – by Greg Klein (Resource Clips – July 15, 2019)

While somewhat relaxing its concern about uranium, the U.S. appears increasingly worried about rare earths supply. A Reuters exclusive says Washington has begun an inventory to itemize domestic RE projects.

“The Pentagon wants miners to describe plans to develop U.S. rare earths mines and processing facilities, and asked manufacturers to detail their needs for the minerals, according to the document, which is dated June 27,” the news agency reported.

“Responses are required by July 31, a short time frame that underscores the Pentagon’s urgency.” The request mentions the possibility of investment by the military, Reuters added. Continue Reading →

‘Bisbee ’17’ Documents Dark History Of Mass Deportations In Arizona Mining Town – by Robin Young ( – July 15, 2019)

More than a century ago, nearly 2,000 copper miners — most of them immigrants — were deported from Bisbee, Arizona, to the desert of New Mexico. Those who survived the deportation were banned from returning.

At that point 1917, copper was critical for Americans fighting abroad during World War I. The miners, who were underpaid and worked in dangerous conditions, had joined the Industrial Workers of the World, which threatened a strike. Some residents saw the workers as communists who were undermining the war effort.

Authorized by the sheriff, residents dragged workers and their sympathizers from homes and businesses, forced them into cattle cars and deported them miles from town. Continue Reading →

Tiny Town Of Nucla Looks To A Future Without Mining And Sees Opportunity And Uncertainty – by Stina Sieg (Colorado Public Radio – June 24, 2019)

Home to just a few hundred people, the town of Nucla, Colorado, isn’t just tiny. It’s far from just about everything. Tucked into the western edge of Montrose County, it’s 350 miles from Denver and 60 miles from the nearest stop light.

For generations, this area — known as the West End — was a hub for mining. Most famously, they dug for uranium here and the area saw a big boom thanks to the Cold War era. Later, coal arrived to support a local power plant.

“You think things are going to boom forever,” said Jane Thompson, a 62-year-old longtime local. “They’re always going to need uranium. They’re always going to need coal.” Continue Reading →

[Homestake Mine, South Dakota] The real Deadwood – by Peter Fish (Sunset Magazine – ????)

Sunset Magazine

Peter Fish explores the South Dakota town made famous by the hit TV show

This is a tale of two cities. The first is a mining camp in the Black Hills, where greed, lust, and violence kindle in such volatile combinations, you think they may burn the whole town down. The second is a tourist attraction whose tidy Main Street throngs with tourists jingling the quarters they won in the casino slots.

The first town is Deadwood, Dakota Territory, in 1876, as experienced on the HBO series Deadwood. The second is Deadwood, South Dakota, as experienced in real time in 2006. The genuine and virtual towns have become inseparable.

It’s Deadwood’s real history that made the television series possible. It’s the television Deadwood that is breathing new life into the real town ― proving that in 2006, some juicy Western history can be as valuable as gold. Continue Reading →

Rebuilding ‘Deadwood,’ Plank by Plank – by Robert Ito (New York Times – May 15, 2019)

Deadwood is based on the South Dakota Homestake Mining Company. Here is a brief history:

SANTA CLARITA, CALIF. — “Deadwood” is back for one final hello and goodbye. Last November, more than a decade after David Milch’s award-winning HBO series unexpectedly and maddeningly folded, Timothy Olyphant, as Seth Bullock, was once again in the center of the town’s perpetually muddy main drag, having words — heated, profane, Shakespearean ones — with Gerald McRaney, the show’s villainous George Hearst.

From the balcony of the Gem casino, Ian McShane (Al Swearengen) glowered; offstage, Robin Weigert, the show’s foul-mouthed, tenderhearted Calamity Jane, waited in the wings.

Against all odds, the producers were able to reunite nearly all of the show’s principal cast for “Deadwood: The Movie,” the show’s much-delayed, much-anticipated finale. “I didn’t think it was ever going to happen,” Olyphant admitted later. Continue Reading →

Cripple Creek donkeys released into the city for the summer – by Zachary Aedo ( – May 15, 2019)

CRIPPLE CREEK, Colo. – Cripple Creek is one of two cities in the United States where you could run into a wild donkey herd on the streets.

The Two Mile High Club nonprofit released its donkey herd into the streets for the summer. The local group spends each winter keeping the donkeys safe and healthy at a nearby ranch. But every summer, the donkeys are released to run wild for the public to see.

Clinton Cline, the president of Two Mile High Club, said the creatures remind people of the city’s mining history. “The donkeys pretty much built Cripple Creek originally,” Cline said. During the gold rush of the late 1800s, miners used donkeys to pull ore carts and transport materials to local mining camps. Continue Reading →

Mining City History: Augustus Heinze and the Panic of 1907 – by Richard I. Gibson (Montana Standard – April 8, 2019)

Local geologist and historian Dick Gibson has lived in Butte since 2003 and has worked as a tour guide for various organizations and museums. He can be reached at [email protected]

Butte’s riches and people have had some far-reaching impacts. Brooklyn-born F. Augustus Heinze arrived in Butte in 1889, and with help from a $50,000 inheritance, soon established the Montana Ore Purchasing (M.O.P.) Company and by 1894 had opened a huge new mill-smelter complex just south of Meaderville on the east side of the hill.

The MOP bought ore from smaller companies to process until Heinze had his own mines, including the Rarus. It’s well known that Heinze went on to exploit the rule of the apex to allege that veins reached the surface within his claim boundaries, winning huge riches in the courts to add to his other mining ventures.

In 1902, Heinze combined all his interests in the United Copper Company, which had a production capacity of about a third of that of the Amalgamated (Anaconda) Company. Continue Reading →

Mine Tales: Payson’s long history included a thriving mining center – by William Ascarza (Arizona Daily Star – April 7, 2019)

The town of Payson, established in the early 1880s, has contributed to Arizona history in multiple ways, including being located near the well-known Pleasant Valley War waged from 1887 to 1892.

It also contributed to Arizona’s economy with a robust logging and cattle industry while billing itself as the “World’s Longest Continuous Rodeo” established in 1884.

Located almost in the geographic center of Arizona in the low, rolling, granite hills between the Mazatzal Mountains and Sierra Ancha Mountains, Payson has acquired the attribute, “the Heart of Arizona.” Continue Reading →