When Coal First Arrived, Americans Said ‘No Thanks’ – by Clive Thompson (Smithsonian Magazine – July/August 2022)

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/

Steven Preister’s house in Washington, D.C. is a piece of American history, a gorgeous 110-year-old colonial with wooden columns and a front porch, perfect for relaxing in the summer.

But Preister, who has owned it for almost four decades, is deeply concerned about the environment, so in 2014 he added something very modern: solar panels. First, he mounted panels on the back of the house, and they worked nicely. Then he decided to add more on the front, facing the street, and applied to the city for a permit.

Read more

Toxic mine pollution has turned Ohio rivers orange. Now it’s being made into paint. – by Chelsea Lee (CNN.com – August 2, 2022)

https://www.cnn.com/

(CNN)With rolling hills, forests and hiking trails, Southeast Ohio is a haven for lovers of the outdoors. Yet cutting through the landscape are countless orange-stained streams, colored by the iron oxide pollution that has seeped into them from abandoned coal mines.

These streams are contaminated with a toxic sludge known as acid mine drainage (AMD) — the overflow of highly acidic wastewater from underground mines, created when water comes into contact with exposed mining rocks.

Read more

Mine Tales: Four classic movies with Arizona mining backdrops – by William Ascarza (Arizona Daily Star – March 13, 2022)

https://tucson.com/

Arizona has a rich history in the motion picture industry. Early production years at Old Tucson Studios west of Tucson produced “Arizona,” “3:10 to Yuma” and “Rio Bravo,” to name a few. Another filming location in Mescal, about 45 miles southeast of Tucson, produced such notable films as “Tombstone” and “Tom Horn,” along with serving as an occasional setting for the “Gunsmoke,” “Rawhide” and “Bonanza” TV series.

Aside from established movie sets, Arizona’s mines and their history have contributed to the backdrop and premise of some remarkable films in past decades. Some of these include:

‘Day of the Wolves’

Read more

Uranium Fever – Uranium Mining, Culture, Health and the Environment in the Four Corners Region – Curated by Peter Soland (Centre of Southwest Studies – Fort Lewis College)

 

Welcome to “Uranium Fever: Uranium Mining, Culture, Health, and the Environment in the Four Corners Region.” This digital museum exhibit showcases images and documents from Fort Lewis College’s Center of Southwest Studies’ collections on uranium mining and uranium mill tailings removal.

During the post-World War II era, government officials and industry executives harkened to a mythologized version of the country’s frontier legacy to promote a uranium boom that fueled the Cold War arms race and nuclear energy development.

Read more

Death Valley Scotty’s gold hideaway: The legend of the self-proclaimed gold prospector, Walter E. Scott – by Angelica Zagorski (CIM Magazine – November 16, 2021)

https://magazine.cim.org/en/

Deep in the Grapevine Mountains in Death Valley National Park, California, a Spanish colonial-style villa stands as a landmark to Death Valley Scotty. Walter E. Scott, better known as Scotty, was a conman and a self-pronounced wealthy gold prospector, whose legend comes from his tales of owning a secret gold mine in the Death Valley.

No one had ever seen or heard of the gold mine Scott raved about, even Albert Johnson, the treasurer of the National Life Insurance Company of Chicago and Scott’s most loyal investor and friend. In 1904, Scott boarded a train to visit Johnson, supposedly carrying US$12,000 in gold dust, which he later reported was stolen. Scott, who was keen on any form of self-promotion, excitedly spoke with newspaper reporters about the theft, making headlines that week.

Read more

COMMENTARY: The humbling of giants: The rise and decline of the Iron Range — Essay – by Aaron Brown (Minnesota Reformer – September 28, 2021)

Home

Mesabi means giant. That means that I was raised in the land of giants on the Mesabi Iron Range of northern Minnesota. In my youth, I saw those giants as the elected leaders who fought for my homeland in St. Paul and Washington, D.C.

When I was 10 I watched my grandfather, Marvin Johnson, run for the first and only time in my life. Twenty years after his body was crushed in a mining accident, he sprinted into the street to shake then-Gov. Rudy Perpich’s hand at the Keewatin Fourth of July parade. His admiration was greater than the pain.

Read more

100 years since the Battle of Blair Mountain – by Andy Thompson and Jerry White (World Socialist Web Site – September 10, 2021)

https://www.wsws.org/en/

This month marks the 100th anniversary since the end of the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921, when as many as 20,000 coal miners in southern West Virginia waged armed combat against a private army of gun thugs hired by the coal operators.

The pitched battle lasted from August 25 to September 2, 1921, when US military forces deployed by President Warren Harding occupied the coalfields, disarming and arresting hundreds of miners under martial law.

Read more

How yellowcake shaped the West by Jonathan Thompson (High Country News – July 30, 2021)

https://www.hcn.org/

The ghosts of the uranium boom continue to haunt the land, water and people.

In late August 2018, in the heat of one of the warmest and driest years on record in the Four Corners country, under a blanket of smoke emanating from wildfires burning all over the place, I piloted the Silver Bullet — my trusty 1989 Nissan Sentra — to the quiet burg of Monticello, Utah.

I was on my way from one camping site on the Great Sage Plain to another on Comb Ridge, where I would feed my misanthropic side with a searing hike down a canyon, seeking out potholes that still had a smidgen of stagnant water left over from the last rain.

I took a detour through Monticello to look into one of the most contentious fronts of the long-running public-land wars, the battle over uranium mining and milling and even radioactive waste disposal. San Juan County’s public lands played a major role in what I call the Age of the Nuclear West, which reached its multi-decade apex during the Cold War and hasn’t ended yet.

Read more

New Book Explores Appalachia’s Coal Mined Landscapes – by Robbie Harris (Radio IQ WVTF.org – July 8, 2021)

https://www.wvtf.org/

For more than a hundred years, coal from Appalachia helped power the nation and the world. But that’s changing as new forms of clean energy emerge. A new book documents the rise of coal and its eminent decline, when coal is no longer king.

Without coal, there might never have been an industrial revolution. But the new revolution in cleaner energy is clearly coming, so scientists from Virginia Tech and West Virginia University, set out to document everything they could find, regarding the coal economy of the past 2 centuries and a way of life that sustained communities.

“The title is, “Appalachia, Coal, Mined, Landscapes, Resources, and Communities in a New Energy Era.” Carl Zipper is professor emeritus in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginian Tech.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more