Archive | United States Mining History

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

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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 →

[Copper Mining History] Deportation ‘17: A Film About a Film in Bisbee, Arizona

Deportation ’17: A Film About a Film in Bisbee from Lone Protestor on Vimeo.

July 12, 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of the Bisbee Deportation, where over a thousand striking miners were rounded up by the mining company, forced onto cattle cars and deported to the New Mexico desert. As a film crew comes to Bisbee to make a documentary about the Deportation, the whole town gets into the act.
The documentary Bisbee ’17 will be produced by 4th Row Films and is directed by Robert Greene.

The following is from Bisbee, Arizona, queen of the western copper camps, 1917. The protagonists in a bitter strike: the Wobblies (the IWW), the toughest union in the history of the West; and Harry Wheeler, the last of the two-gun sheriffs. In this class-war western, they face each other down in the streets of Bisbee, pitting a general strike against the largest posse ever assembled. Continue Reading →

Great Deposits – The Comstock Lode – by Andrew Watson (Geology For Investors – November 2017)

Flying over Nevada on a clear day is one of the great joys of being an economic geologist. The Basin and Range country has abundant structural features, intrusions, deformed bedding and pits and plenty to keep one occupied.

Every so often the occasional grid drilling pattern, hinting of what will or what just didn’t quite comes into view. The driver is of course gold, with Nevada dominating US gold production claiming 78% of the total. The perceptive might wonder why then is it called the “Silver State” – the answer is the Comstock Lode.

Like all great deposits, the Comstock Lode did many things; it broke Nevada away from Utah, it pushed mining technology ahead by leaps and bounds, it was critical in kick-starting the study of hydrothermal alteration, it brought the first elevator to Nevada, and it made a few people very, very rich. Continue Reading →

Fact Checker Analysis: The repeated, incorrect claim that Russia obtained ‘20 percent of our uranium’ – by Glenn Kessler (Washington Post – October 31, 2017)

“How is it that our government could approve a sale of 20 percent of our uranium at the same time that there was an open FBI investigation?”
— Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), interview with Fox News’s Neil Cavuto, Oct. 26, 2017

“Knowing what you know about Russia, was it really a good idea for the Obama administration and the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to approve a deal giving the Russians control of 20 percent of our uranium supply? . . . Why did Hillary’s office and the Obama administration sign off on giving the Russians a fifth of our uranium? . . .

Why is that a good idea to give a hostile power 20 percent of our uranium supplies? It’s insane though. . . . How would Hillary Clinton not know if a Russian company was getting 20 percent of our uranium supply? What was she doing?”
— Tucker Carlson, on Fox’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Oct. 23 Continue Reading →

Circle Mining District reunion relives gold rush history – by Kris Capps (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner – October 22, 2017)

FAIRBANKS — When the price of gold went up in the early 1970s, a new generation of gold miners jumped on the opportunity to strike it rich. That renewed interest in mining created the second gold rush in the Circle Mining District of Interior Alaska.

“The Circle Mining District, in the 1980s, collectively with all the placer mines — a total of 92 — was the largest gold producer for placer gold mining in the United States,” according to Gail Ackels, who wrote a book about her family’s experiences on Gold Dust Creek in the Circle Mining District.

She should know. She and her husband, Del, were part of that group that also included Joe Vogler, Ernie Wolf, Ed Gelvin, Fred Wilkinson and many others. Many of those miners gathered for a special reunion earlier this month, hosted by fellow Gold Dust Creek miners Bernie and Connie Karl at Chena Hot Springs Resort. Continue Reading →

Mine Tales: Southern Arizona’s mining history dates back over 1,000 years – by William Ascarza (Arizona Daily Star – October 9,2017)

Southeastern Arizona has a rich mining history dating back more than 1,000 years. The indigenous people known also as the Hohokam, or vanished ones, were the first to exploit the vast mineral resources in the area known today as Arizona. They used minerals such as copper and turquoise for ornamental jewelry and to trade among settlements.

Elsewhere in Arizona, Hopi Indians near the present day town of Holbrook mined coal as a means of keeping warm in the winter, for cooking and also for the firing of ceramics. Native Americans were involved in mining turquoise in the Cerbat Mountains and cinnabar in the Castle Dome Mining District near Yuma. They also mined salt near Camp Verde.

There is evidence that the Tohono O’odham mined hematite in the Ajo area for use as war paint in the 15th century shortly after the disappearance of the Hohokam. Although the O’odham were the first to mine the surface of Arizona, it was the Spanish who were the first to extensively penetrate its earth in search of mineral wealth, most notably in Southeastern Arizona. Continue Reading →

Mine Tales: Gold helped Arizona gain territory status – by William Ascarza (Arizona Daily Star November 2, 2014)

Prized among civilization for more than 5,000 years, gold’s role as a precious metal influences world commerce and stimulates exploration. Its symbol, AU, represents the Latin word for gold: aurum.

Gold, the most malleable and ductile of metals, is also resistant to chemical attack and is highly reflective. One ounce of gold can be flattened to cover in excess of 150 square feet. Although widely distributed, it occurs in small amounts in less than one seven thousandth of an ounce (0.004g) per ton in the Earth’s crust.

An excellent conductor of electricity and heat, it has been used as a medium of exchange and is invaluable for industrial uses including metal alloys, computer circuitry, solders and jewelry. It was highly sought after by early European explorers including Francisco Vasquez de Coronado’s attempt to discover the Seven Cities of Cibola in 1540, and continues to play a critical role in Arizona’s mining history. Continue Reading →

COLORADO LEGENDS: Ghosts of the Cripple Creek Mining District (Legends of America)

In the high country beyond Pike’s Peak is the Cripple Creek Mining District, dotted with historic mine shafts, head frames, and tumbling down miners’ cabins. Not only might a visitor find a “taste” of gold fever in this historic district, but may also experience their hair rising on the back of their necks as they “bump” into one of the many ghosts that reportedly roam the area.

Like many other mining towns of the Old West, Cripple Creek is said to be extremely haunted. Given its rich history, complete with mining accidents, floods, fires, lawlessness, and bloody battles between mine owners and labor unions, it comes as no surprise to learn of the many ghosts who continue to linger in this once thriving city. In fact, there are so many tales of spirits wandering this historic town, that at one time boasted one homicide per day, some say it is the one of the most haunted cities in the United States.

The Fairley Brothers and Lampman Building at 300 East Bennett Avenue now houses the Colorado Grande Casino and Maggie’s Restaurant. Here, you may not only enjoy a little gaming and some great food, but you might just get a glimpse of a ghost as well. Continue Reading →

[South Dakota Gold Mining History] New Homestake trail retraces the past – by Tom Griffith (Rapid City Journal – August 31, 2017)

LEAD | Listen long enough as winds comb through the boughs of towering pines and you’ll hear the century-old whispers of steam-fired trains chugging through the forest to service the fabled Homestake Gold Mine.

Now, more than 100 years after hundreds of faceless miners scraped and blasted a rail bed through the remotest regions of the Black Hills, hikers and mountain bikers have the opportunity to retrace the route of a narrow-gauge railroad that brought needed supplies from Deadwood to its sister city of Lead and the Homestake Mine.

The new three-mile Homestake Railroad Grade Trail returns to life a major transportation portal that traces its origins to 1890, when the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad constructed the line to haul myriad supplies to the burgeoning gold camp of Lead. Continue Reading →

The gilded South: OceanaGold writes the latest chapter in the long history of South Carolina’s Haile mine – by Ryan Bergen (CIM Magazine – August 25, 2017)

Located a few minutes from the small town of Kershaw, South Carolina, Haile has the distinction of being the only gold mine in the United States east of the Mississippi River. More to the point, unlike many new operations it is, if traffic cooperates, just an hour and a half from both an international airport and a domestic hub for air cargo.

It also has the advantage of a deep labour pool nearby and easy access to power and roads, which helped OceanaGold build the 6,300- tonnes-per-day operation for an estimated US$400 million.

Past to present

Gold was first discovered in the area in the 1820s by tenants clearing the land owned by Benjamin Haile. The first placer operations evolved to include a stamp mill, and the gold extracted helped fund the losing Confederate effort in the American Civil War. Legendary Union General William Sherman made a point of destroying Haile’s mine facilities as he and his troops returned north and operations only resumed in the 1880s when New York investors brought it back into production. Continue Reading →