Archive | United States Mining History

Frighteningly Cool California Ghost Town and Mining Operation Up for Sale – by Claudine Zap (SF Gate – June 14, 2018)

https://www.sfgate.com/

From time to time, we see replica Old West towns with period antiques and ramshackle structures come up for sale. However, Cerro Gordo is the real deal! It’s an actual California mining town that was abandoned in the early 1900s. The land has been held by the same family for decades since.

Now you can own this piece of the American West—it’s on the market for $925,000. The sale includes 24,000 square feet of buildings and about 300 acres in Lone Pine, which is 250 miles from Los Angeles.

The silver mine from 1867 on the property is credited with providing the wealth that helped build L.A. It’s also the first major mining camp south of the Sierra Nevada. In other words, this property is the real deal. Continue Reading →

The Mining Millionaire Americans Couldn’t Help But Love – by Gregory Crouch (Smithsonian Magazine – June 6, 2018)

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/

Unlike the other one-percenters of his age, John Mackay gained his countrymen’s admiration. But in an ironic twist, it means he’s little known today

John Mackay’s was once the most beloved rags-to-riches story in America. A penniless Irish immigrant brought to New York City as a child, he’d risen from the infamous Five Points, the nation’s most notorious slum.

When Mackay sailed from New York en route to California in 1851, he had no name, no money, and not a single influential friend on earth. He’d possessed nothing but strong arms, a clear head, and a legendary capacity for hard work. In the eyes of the times, his road to riches had made no man poorer, and few begrudged him his success.

But in part because of his likability and unsullied reputation, John Mackay is mostly forgotten today. In contrast to titans of industry like Andrew Carnegie or railroad magnate and telegraph cable monopolist Jay Gould, who Mackay would famously defeat, Mackay commanded the admiration of people worldwide. Continue Reading →

HISTORY ECHOES THROUGH IRON RANGE POLITICS, EVEN IF WE FORGET – by Aaron Brown (Hibbing Daily Tribune – June 3, 2018)

http://www.hibbingmn.com/

In 1887, the Merritt Brothers and a crew led by Capt. J.A. Nichols discovered rich hematite ore under 14 feet of mud near the future townsite of Mountain Iron. After three years of wading through stinking mosquito swamps, alternating with hellish winter conditions, these men turned hope of discovering the Mesabi Range into reality.

Almost 30 years later, in 1916, Slovenian immigrant Joe Greeni stood in line to find out how much he’d earn in pay that week. He would utter the words “To hell with such wages. We’ve been robbed long enough. It’s time to strike.” Thousands would join him, shutting down all the mines on the Mesabi.

These moments shaped Iron Range history, leading to the Iron Range present. Not because they were successful at first. The Merritts would be undercut by John D. Rockefeller. The IWW strike of 1916 would be broken. Instead, these events reflect the twin human desires for materials and quality of life that still spark political action today. Continue Reading →

Life in Missouri’s Fading Old Lead Belt – by Benjamin Hoste and Romke Hoogwaerts (MSNB.com – June 30, 2016)

http://www.msnbc.com/

Just an hour south of St. Louis sits the Southeast Missouri Lead District, home to the largest lead deposits in the world. Some 150 years ago, the area boomed alongside its lead mines, an exploitation of natural resources that altered economic fortunes as well as the physical terrain. A particularly plentiful subdistrict now known as the Old Lead Belt thrived.

Today, that landscape looks vastly different. Once-prosperous communities have declined, mines have closed and moved elsewhere. Environmental and health hazards loom large over a community that’s both proud and wary of its heritage as a major supplier of the world’s lead.

Recently, public concern over lead poisoning’s persistent issues across the United States has renewed, particularly in urban environments. Widespread lead contamination of tap water in Flint, Michigan, is only the most recent example. Continue Reading →

Hope is only surviving camp from Upper Kenai Peninsula gold rush – by Ray Bonnell (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner – April 22, 2018)

http://www.newsminer.com/

FAIRBANKS — According to the 1915 U.S.G.S. report, “Geology and Mineral Resources of Kenai Peninsula, Alaska,” the only recorded instances of Russian gold exploration in Alaska occurred between 1848 and 1851, when Peter Doroshin, a Russian-American Company mining engineer, discovered gold in the Kenai River and spent two summers prospecting along the Russian River.

Doroshin, or his men, may have searched further afield, though. American miners in the Hope area found abandoned workings that they attributed to the Russians.

After the 1867 purchase of Alaska, prospectors began pushing north along the coast from British Columbia. By the 1880s, miners were working beach deposits along Lower Cook Inlet. In about 1888, a prospector named King (first name unknown) sojourned into the Upper Kenai Peninsula, returning two summers later with four pokes of gold. Continue Reading →

Mine Tales: Manganese mines in Arizona fed US need in WWII – by William Ascarza (Arizona Daily Star – April 8, 2018)

http://tucson.com/

The U.S. government began purchasing manganese during World War II to compensate for a shortage, due to the number of ships carrying manganese for import that were sunk by enemy submarines. Manganese-buying depots were established in Arizona to enhance production, leading to the discovery of deposits in almost every county.

Manganese is a metallic element used as an alloy to strengthen steel. A minimum of 36 pounds of high-grade manganese ore is required for each ton of steel. Manganese ore itself should carry 35 percent or more of manganese free of such impurities as phosphorous, copper and zinc.

One Arizona depot was established at Wenden in La Paz County, which received more than 200 shipments from mines across the state, equaling about 300,000 tons of crude ore. Continue Reading →

[National Gallery of Canada Photo Show] Daguerreotypes of the California Gold Rush – by Claire Voon (Hyperallergic.com – January 9, 2018)

https://hyperallergic.com/

https://www.gallery.ca/

Coinciding with the early years of photography, the California Gold Rush left a lasting mark on image making.

“Gold! Gold from the American River!” So cried the carpenter James W. Marshall on January 24, 1848, as the story goes, when he found flakes of the precious metal at Coloma, California, thus ushering into the region a wave of steely-eyed prospectors.

As word of the California Gold Rush spread around the world, photographers, too, arrived, and themselves struck metaphorical gold. They set up studios in wagons and captured the historic frenzy around them, making the Gold Rush the first major event in the country to be documented extensively through the then-new medium.

Portraits of individual miners and scenes of men crowded on the rocky landscape are currently on view in an ongoing exhibition at the Canadian Photography Institute at the National Gallery of Canada, organized in collaboration with Library and Archive Canada. Continue Reading →

U.S. miners seek reversal of uranium mining ban near Grand Canyon – by Timothy Gardner (Reuters U.S. – March 9, 2018)

https://www.reuters.com/

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. mining industry asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday to overturn an Obama-era rule that prohibits the mining of uranium on public lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon National Park.

The National Mining Association (NMA) and the American Exploration and Mining Association (AEMA) filed petitions asking the court to reverse the Obama administration’s 2012 ban on new uranium mining claims on more than 1 million acres of public land adjacent to the canyon.

In 2012, Ken Salazar, then the secretary of the interior, instituted the ban for 20 years on the public lands that the Havasupai tribe relies on for water. The ban was upheld by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in December. Continue Reading →

The ebb and flow of mining is reflected in Eldorado Creek’s history – by Ray Bonnell (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner – February 25, 2018)

http://www.newsminer.com/

FAIRBANKS — Kantishna’s Eldorado Creek, as opposed to the 26 other Eldorado Creeks listed in the “Dictionary of Alaska Place Names,” is a 5.5-mile-long tributary of Moose Creek, located just downstream from the confluence of Moose and Eureka creeks.

Mined since the short-lived 1905-06 Kantishna gold rush, Eldorado Creek’s mining history is a microcosm of the ebb and flow of mineral development in the Kantishna area.

During the brief six months the rush lasted, lode deposits of silver were discovered along Eldorado Creek, as well as a stibnite deposit (an ore of antimony) on Slate Creek, an Eldorado Creek tributary near its headwaters. Continue Reading →

[Pennsylvania Coal Mining History] Molly Maguires Lecture Observes Coal Mining Heritage Month – by Alison Moyer (The Crown – January 25, 2018)

http://crown.kings.edu/

Author and New York Times Senior Editor Mark Balik gave the 8th annual Msgr. John J. Curran Lecture as part of Anthracite Mining Heritage Month. The free public lecture took place on January 18 in the Burke Auditorium. It was co-sponsored by the McGowan Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility at King’s and the Anthracite Heritage Foundation.

Balik discussed the origin of the Molly Maguires, a secret society of Catholic Irish immigrants in the late 19th century. “The Mollies were among two million Irish who fled from Ireland during the Great Potato Famine, another million died from starvation,” said Balik.

In Ireland, the society had already created a name for itself by using violence to protest evictions from tenant landlords and their agents’ untraditional usage of land. When the Mollies committed their assassinations, they either dressed as women or wore straw outfits. Their faces were painted black and white to conceal their identities. Continue Reading →

ONE MAN’S TRASH: How Montana Gold Rushers Literally Threw Away a Fortune in Sapphires – by Levi Higgs (The Daily Beast – January 12, 2018)

https://www.thedailybeast.com/

In 1866, Montana—specifically the Yogo Gulch—was awash with disappointed prospectors, tossing out the blue pebbles they found in their sluice boxes as they panned for gold.

In the mid-19th century, the cry heard across the American West was “There’s gold in them thar hills!” In the great Treasure State of Montana, little did the prospectors know that they should have instead been proclaiming the presence of one of the highest quality (and most expensive) gemstones the world over, known today as the Montana Sapphire.

In 1866, the Little Belt Mountain Range of Montana—specifically the Yogo Gulch—was awash with disappointed prospectors, tossing out the blue pebbles they found in their sluice boxes as they panned for gold. And while those pebbles were not diamonds in the rough, they were sapphires—and of an extremely lucrative variety.

Other sapphires found throughout the state had been more of the industrial quality, and in hues that are less than desirable at the time: greens, pinks, or colorless. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: [California Gold Rush] Exotic animals and the hunt for gold (University of New Mexico – January 8, 2018)

http://news.unm.edu/news/

Men, women and their families arrived in large numbers to northern California with the dream of striking it rich during the mid-19th century. What most people don’t know about the California Gold Rush is that exotic animals became as much a part of the experience as the exotic medals.

“During the Gold Rush of the 1850s, gold seekers, or Argonauts as they were known, transported exotic and non-native animals to northern California on a regular basis,” said Cyler Conrad, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at The University of New Mexico. “Argonauts were hungry, and during the early years of the Gold Rush there was simply not enough local food to sustain their massive population.”

Conrad’s findings, recently published in an article in the journal California History, suggest that some of the exotic animals imported for food include Galápagos tortoises, sea turtles, turkeys and Atlantic cod. Other non-native animals imported during the Gold Rush-era served as support for hygiene and entertainment needs. Continue Reading →

[Michigan Upper Peninsula] Geologists didn’t always get copper mining right – by Graham Jaehnig (Te Daily Mining Gazette – January 7, 2018)

http://www.mininggazette.com/

Native copper was, to state it bluntly, a geologic fluke. It did not occur in commercial quantities anywhere on Earth except in the Lake Superior copper district.

Although its existence in the region had been known in Europe and the American colonies since the French had discovered it in the 1600s, most knowledgeable people who had seen specimens disregarded native copper as an absolute and isolated freak of nature. As a freak of nature, however, native copper stumped many geologists.

Some geologists, like Douglass Houghton, Columbus C. Douglass and Samuel Hill, did not focus their studies so much on why native copper occurred, but rather on how much of it occurred. Could it be profitable? Was there enough to mine? Was it pure? Continue Reading →

Bisbee: a copper town first, last and always – by Tom Beal (Arizona Daily Star – July 10, 2011)

http://tucson.com/

Bisbee was the most prosperous city in the new state of Arizona on Feb. 14, 1912. It retained its rough edges, however, and celebrated statehood in true mining-camp style – setting off 48 sticks of dynamite in a mining hole near its downtown.

Next year’s centennial festivities will mimic that raucous salute – with a decrease in firepower necessitated by Homeland Security concerns. Copper mining ceased in Bisbee more than 30 years ago, but it remains the best place to envision what life was like in an Arizona mining town 100 years ago.

Its handsome Main Street, lined with substantial brick buildings, looks much the same as it did then. That streetscape was new when its residents celebrated statehood. Disastrous fires in 1907 and 1908 had leveled the wooden buildings in Tombstone Canyon. Continue Reading →

[Arizona Copper Mining History] Bisbee Deportation of 1917 (Wiki)

https://en.wikipedia.org/

The Bisbee Deportation was the illegal kidnapping and deportation of about 1,300 striking mine workers, their supporters, and citizen bystanders by 2,000 members of a deputized posse on July 12, 1917. The action was orchestrated by Phelps Dodge, the major mining company in the area, which provided lists of workers and others who were to be arrested in Bisbee, Arizona.

The arrested were first held at a local baseball park before being loaded onto cattle cars and deported 200 miles (320 km) to Tres Hermanas in New Mexico. The 16-hour journey was through desert without food or water. Once unloaded, the deportees, most without money or transportation, were warned against returning to Bisbee.

As Phelps Dodge, in collusion with the sheriff, had closed down access to outside communications, it was some time before the story was reported. The company presented their action as reducing threats to United States interests in World War I in Europe. Continue Reading →