Archive | United States Mining History

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

http://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. In the early 1930s, the company used the ores to make pigments for glass and pottery manufacturers. During WWII, Balsley used a similar business model to supply the government with vanadium needed for the war effort. Continue Reading →

Opinion: They tell you surprisingly little before sending you home from the hospital with… – by Aaron J. Brown (Hibbing Daily Tribune – February 9, 2019)

https://www.hibbingmn.com/

Like a lot of kids who grew up on Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range during the economic crisis of the 1980s and ‘90s I saw plenty of reasons to leave. Many of my friends did. But I’m glad I found good reasons to stay. Many friends did that, too. That doesn’t mean, however, that our lives are easy or our fate resolved.

When I was in college, I saw the movie “October Sky.” This 1999 film tells the true story of a boy and his friends who, during the Cold War space race, launch their own rocket from a West Virginia coal mining town. They win the national science fair with help from the folks back home.

I also sought out the 1941 Best Picture winner “How Green Was My Valley.” This story follows a Welsh coal mining family over several years, beaten down by small town social mores, unsafe mining conditions, and the economic collapse of their town. And yet their valley was so green, you could even see it in black and white; the love and spirit endured. Continue Reading →

A place in history: the Mackay School – by Karl Fendelander (Nevada Today – January 9, 2019)

https://www.unr.edu/nevada-today/

Born the School of Mines in Nevada in 1888, the Mackay School of Mines is more than just an iconic building sitting opposite Morrill Hall on the University of Nevada, Reno’s historic Quadrangle.

It was one of a handful of mining schools that opened around then at Land Grant Universities to teach those untrained Gold Rushers the science of extracting precious metals – and John William Mackay, one of those eager early miners armed with little more than ambition and a strong back, would come to change not only this mining school but the entire University.

Mackay spent time in the California Gold Rush mining camps before arriving to mine the Comstock Lode in Virginia City, where he went from penniless Irish immigrant to multi-millionaire and one of four Bonanza Kings known the world over in a few short decades. While his fellow Kings cut and ran with their riches to big cities, Mackay’s deep sense of gratitude to Nevada tethered him and his family. Continue Reading →

Mine Tales: A.P.K. Safford, from California gold rush to Arizona Territory governor – by William Ascarza (Arizona Daily Star – December 9, 2018)

https://tucson.com/

Anson Peacely-Killen Safford, prominent for his mining ventures, served as the third territorial governor of Arizona from 1869-1877.

A native of Hyde Park, Vermont, he ventured to California to participate in its gold rush during the early 1850s. He later served as a mining recorder in Nevada before accepting the nomination as governor of Arizona Territory by President Ulysses S. Grant.

His nomination was at the request of powerful railroad promoters including Coles Bashford who, like Safford, was also a fellow incorporator of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. Safford is known for his focus on law, order and education during his political tenure. Continue Reading →

A return to legacy: The reopening of Central City’s Bates Hunter Mine – by Sarah Haas (Boulder Weekly – November 15, 2018)

Boulder Weekly

It’s 8 a.m. at Central City’s newly reopened Bates Hunter Mine, the sun just peaking over the valley walls. It’s been over 70 years since gold was last mined here, but as the miner’s begin to arrive at work on a November day in 2018, it feels like they’ve been here all along, like this is where they’re supposed to be.

By all appearances today is a normal day, although on the agenda is at least one extraordinary task; after months of removing water from the main shaft, the miners can finally access the 163-foot level, submerged and unseen since an exploratory visit in 2008. And, aside from a few maps that look like a simplistic version of Snakes and Ladders, the crew doesn’t really know what to expect on today’s seminal descent.

“We’re just gonna go down and check it out, gauge the condition of the infrastructure, poke around on the landing,” says Matt Collins, the mine’s general manager and engineer. “It’ll be neat to see how close these are to our maps.” Continue Reading →

Mine Tales: Del Pasco Mine brought fortune seekers in the 1870s – by William Ascarza (Arizona Daily Star – November 12, 2018)

https://tucson.com/

The Bradshaw Mountains in Central Arizona near Prescott produced a series of big strikes in the 1870s and ’80s. The earliest to be developed in the range was the Del Pasco Mine.

It was discovered by Jackson McCrackin, James Fine, Charley Taylor and T.G. Hogle on July 4, 1870. Within a month, two arrastras were employed to extract gold with an initial processing of 112 ounces totaling $1,904. The former placer mine was further developed to access the Del Pasco vein (running 2 to 3 feet in width) which, later heavily worked, necessitated the establishment of a tunnel 1,000 feet in length and stoped to the surface.

Located in the Pine Grove District of Yavapai County on the rugged southern slopes of Tower Mountain overlooking Crown King, the Del Pasco vein, between 6,300 feet and 7,300 feet, strikes north-northeast. The local geology is diorite intruded by rhyolite porphyry and a primary quartz vein with galena, pyrite and sphalerite. Continue Reading →

Montana generous in sharing men, women and treasures to hasten end of WWI – by Kim Briggeman (Helena Independent Record – November 10, 2018)

https://helenair.com/

“I’ve got a quote in my book that every American bullet fired in
the war was encased in Butte copper,” said Robison, who’ll be
part of Sunday’s program at Fort Missoula.

They’re not forget-me-nots, but they could be called that. The scientific name for the tiny blue flowers that grow in France’s Forest of Verdun is Sisyrinchium montanum. “They call it the blue-eyed grass of Montana,” a national forest official in Douamont told the American Foreign Press in 2016.

Douamont is lined with graves of 80,000 of the 300,000 French and German soldiers who died in the 300-day Battle of Verdun in 1916, the year before the United States entered World War I. The flowers aren’t native, Patrice Hirbec told the news service. They were introduced to Verdun as seeds on the hooves of United States Army horses.

It wasn’t a good war to be a horse. It’s said that on one day during the Battle of Verdun, 7,000 were killed in the shelling. Estimates vary but somewhere between 6 million and 8 million horses, mules and donkeys died during the four years of conflict. Continue Reading →

Cheers, tears as historic smelter from Magma Mine demolished in Superior – by Ryan Randazzo (Arizona Republic – November 10, 2018)

https://www.azcentral.com/

Cheers erupted at 8:46 a.m. Saturday in Superior after the historic copper smelter stack from the Magma Mine crashed to the ground. But the cheers only came because the controlled demolition offered such a spectacle. Many of the people lined up along the streets watching the destruction were sad to see the 293-foot brick stack fall.

Even though smoke hasn’t wafted from the top of the stack since 1971, the 94-year-old smelter about 60 miles east of downtown Phoenix was a symbol of the region’s mining heritage, and had sentimental value for those who lived and worked in Superior.

That includes Larry Palacio, a Gilbert retiree who spent more than 21 years working at the Magma Mine after he graduated from Superior High School in 1955. “I did just about everything,” he said, standing along Main Street waiting for the warning sirens before explosions that caused the stack to topple. “I was a mucker, mechanic, worked the cage.” Continue Reading →

The silver kings of the Comstock – by Darold Fredricks (San Mateo Daily Journal – November 11, 2013)

https://www.smdailyjournal.com/

Although gold had been taken out of the streams around Virginia City in 1850, it didn’t create much excitement in San Francisco immediately.

The gold tailings were worked when there was water in the streams that ran east from Mount Davidson, a peak from the Virginia Range in western Utah Territory. As more prospecting produced other catches of gold tailings, word spread that there might be a bonanza in the hot and forbidding area. A few took the bait and they left after the gold strike from Coloma panned out and they were left high and dry in San Francisco.

In 1857, Henry Comstock lucked upon an area where he and some others found some gold and silver veins that were promising for riches. Henry acquired the area after the Grosh brothers died before filing claims. Henry took over the cabin and land and enlarged his holdings by claiming more land around the cabin after hearing of a gold strike at Gold Hill. Continue Reading →

Museum exhibit explores Alaska’s gold industry – by Theresa Bakker (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner – November 4, 2018)

http://www.newsminer.com/

FAIRBANKS – Some of the first settlers to make their way to Fairbanks came for the promise that there was gold in the hills of the Tanana Valley. More than 100 years later, the industry is a vital economic resource and plenty of tourists still come to Alaska to discover its gold rush history.

That’s why the University of Alaska Museum of the North is exploring gold this month. Museum Educator Emily Koehler-Platten said visitors should know that gold is more than just a shiny metal. Not only has its beauty and rarity made it important to people, but it has also affected our history and culture.

“I hope museum visitors gain a deeper understanding of gold,” she said. “It is a cultural force that has deeply affected life in Alaska, and continues to impact us today. The modern history of Alaska would have been different if gold fever had not caused thousands of people to come north.” Continue Reading →

Fayette County: Old coal mining hub continues to be haunted by ghosts – by Taylor Neuman (CBS Fox WVNSTV.com – October 30, 2018)

https://www.wvnstv.com/

WHIPPLE, WV (WVNS) – What is now a historical museum, was once the center of a coal mining community in the heart of Whipple, Fayette County. In the late 1800’s, the Whipple Company Store was a one-stop-shop, with everything from food to healthcare. Life was not easy back then and the stories that have been preserved within this store reflect just that.

Coal was everything during this time; a main source of income for many. In fact, any threat to their way of life met its match, and sometimes in the most brutal ways. Beatings and murders in plain sight, and there was nothing the community could do about it because the coal mining companies controlled everything.

According to local ghost hunter, Chris Colin, people were forced into situations they had no choice but which to agree. Continue Reading →

Then Again: The rise and fall of the Ely Copper Mines – by Mark Bushnell (VTDigger.org – October 21, 2018)

https://vtdigger.org/

Editor’s note: Mark Bushnell is a Vermont journalist and historian. He is the author of “Hidden History of Vermont” and “It Happened in Vermont.”

Ammunition was handed out to the troops: 20 rounds per man. The state militia planned to bring order to the town of Vershire.

Before dawn on the morning of Saturday, July 7, 1883, roughly 200 militia members climbed into wagons that would transport them to the outskirts of town. A group of striking miners had controlled Vershire since Monday. Word had spread that the miners had seized explosives and were threatening to start blowing things up if their demands weren’t met. One rumor had it that the miners were holding company executives, town officials and others hostage.

Their complaint was simple: they weren’t getting paid. Miners hadn’t seen a paycheck in months. Company officials claimed the mine was nearly bankrupt, but workers believed, or in desperation at least hoped, they were lying. Continue Reading →

There’s so much more to Cripple Creek than gambling – by Amanda Kesting (9News.com – September 20, 2018)

https://www.9news.com/

CRIPPLE CREEK — For more than 100 years, people have been coming to a small Colorado town with the dreams of striking it rich. It started with tens of thousands of gold-seekers in the late 1800s and has transformed into gamblers, trying their luck in one of the town’s grand casinos.

Cripple Creek is a charming community with a rich heritage. Located just over two hours southwest of Denver and about an hour outside of Colorado Springs, the town sits on the southwest slope of Pikes Peak.

Just over 1,000 people call Cripple Creek home, according to the most recent census numbers, but many more come through the town each year to visit. It is still a well-known gambling town, with nine large casinos occupying many of the restored brick buildings along the main street of downtown. Continue Reading →

Arizona’s mining history: Danger for many, riches for a few – by Weldon B. Johnson (Arizona Republic – September 10, 2018)

https://www.azcentral.com/

The lure of gold sparked the mining boom in the Arizona Territory in the Old West, but other shiny metals helped the industry catch fire here. Many prospectors who arrived in the mid-1800s with dreams of striking it rich with gold quickly adapted to the more abundant copper and silver. There were times during mining’s boom period when those metals were more valuable than gold.

But those miners weren’t the first seek a fortune, or at least make a better life, by exploiting Arizona’s mineral riches. As early as 1000 B.C., native inhabitants used cinnabar, coal, turquoise, clay, pigments and other minerals. Spanish explorers followed a few hundred years later, searching for fabled lost cities of gold and other riches.

Charles Poston, sometimes called the father of Arizona (he played a significant role in securing Arizona’s territorial status), opened mines near Tubac in 1854 that employed nearly 1,000 miners. Four years later he was literally printing money. He owned the state’s first printing press. Continue Reading →

Alaska gold-mining memoir a trove of history, adventure tales – by Sam Friedman (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner – September 7, 2018)

http://www.newsminer.com/

FAIRBANKS — When Randy Zarnke was first handed an unpublished memoir about a little-known Yukon and Chena River gold miner named Frederick James Currier, the book stood out to Zarnke, both because of the types of adventures and the way the stories about them were told.

That’s saying something, because Zarnke knows Alaska outdoor stories well. He’s the president of the Alaska Trappers Association and has interviewed nearly 200 Alaska outdoorsmen for his previous book “Alaska Tracks: Life Stories from Hunters, Fisherman and Trappers of Alaska.”

“My initial reaction was, ‘Man this is really great,’” Zarnke said. “My second reaction was, ‘We’ve got to share it more widely.’“ In 2007, Zarnke received the manuscript from his friend Dirk Tordoff, a former Rasmuson Library Alaska Film Archives curator. Since reading it, Zarnke has been working on getting the book published through the Alaska Trappers Association and Anchorage business Publication Consultants. Continue Reading →