Archive | United States Mining History

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

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)

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)

FAIRBANKS — When Randy Zarnke was first handed an unpublished memoir about a little-known Yukon and Chena River gold miner named Frederick James Currier, the book stood out to Zarnke, both because of the types of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

Mining through the past: Cambridge student visits Nevada County to research Cornish heritage – by Jennifer Nobles (The Union – September 5, 2018)

The Union

Sebastian Horton has always dreamed of visiting California. Growing up in Penzance, Cornwall, England, he’d imagine a land of sunshine and balmy temperatures, a place where he could surf and skateboard to his heart’s content.

The 22-year-old finally made his California wishes come true, but the purpose for his trip is much more significant than he’d initially imagined.

Horton — a third year student at Cambridge University — is visiting Nevada County in order to conduct extensive research for his dissertation which will be presented in April. The topic of the project will be Cornish mine workers who ascended to positions of social and political influence. Continue Reading →

Mining Documentary: Review: In ‘Bisbee ’17,’ Anti-Union Violence Haunts an Arizona Town – by A.O. Scott (New York Times – September 4, 2018)

Bisbee, Ariz., not far from the Mexican border, is a quiet former mining town, one of many such places scattered across the American West. Tombstone, site of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral and a popular tourist destination, is just up the road.

Bisbee has a notably violent episode in its past as well, an event that is the subject of “Bisbee ’17,” Robert Greene’s clearsighted and gratifyingly complicated new documentary.

Starting on July 12, 1917 — a few months after the United States entered World War I and in the midst of labor agitation across the mining industry — sheriff’s deputies rounded up around 1,200 people thought to be union activists, forced them into boxcars and transported them to the New Mexico desert. Continue Reading →

DEADWOOD DUDETTE: Deadwood History’s Carolyn Weber still gets a rush out of the Black Hills gold rush – by T.D. Griffith (Rapid City Journal – August 27, 2018)

Nearly a dozen years ago, Carolyn Weber joined the staff of Deadwood History Inc., as an archivist charged with organizing the vast Homestake Mining Co. collection tracing 125 years of gold mining history through myriad historical artifacts and more than 9,000 photographs.

Today, Weber serves as executive director of DHI. Although the 57-year-old who holds a master’s degree in museum studies is little-known outside historical circles, Weber is a driving force behind what local residents and visitors learn about the fabled Wild West community. So, we sat down with her to find out what still trips her trigger about the past.

Tell us a little bit about the facilities you oversee, the number of staff, and the scope of DHI’s collections.

DHI is the nonprofit organization that oversees the operations of the Adams Museum, the Days of ’76 Museum, the Historic Adams House, and the Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center. All four of these properties are different and unique, but work together to interpret the history of Deadwood and the Black Hills in the context of the American West. Continue Reading →

A Great Plain lie: The many fraudsters of Kansas’s goldless rush – by Cecilia Keating (CIM Magazine – July 19, 2018)

Despite no concrete evidence of mineable gold deposits in Kansas, far-fetched stories of riches have enticed adventurers, prospectors and mining investors to the state since the 16th century. But the frenzy for non-existent gold culminated at the turn of the 20th century, when a string of fraudsters capitalized on investors’ gullibility and greed with false promises and fake assay results.

Inspired by an 1851 map that revealed a tin mine on the Smoky Hill River in central Kansas, railroad magnate Cyrus Holliday sent prospectors to investigate the area’s geology in 1884. The map was a hoax, but the prospectors’ efforts piqued the interest of a high-ranking military official named Henry Artz.

Artz formed the Smoky River Mining Company in 1895, claiming to have found zinc. Two years later, he reported gold and silver. Despite many prominent assayers’ reports saying the shale contained nothing of value, Artz selectively worked with those who assured him of the opposite. Continue Reading →

New Map Chronicles Three Decades of Surface Mining in Central Appalachia – by Jason Daley (Smithsonian Magazine – August 1, 2018)

Coal mining in Appalachia may bring to mind the archetypal soot-covered miner working deep underground. But in the last 30 years, a big percentage of coal mining has been done under the sun. Surface mining and a technique dubbed “mountaintop removal” have been controversial from the start for their use of explosives and heavy equipment to dig through soil and bedrock to get at coal seams from above.

Yet information about where and how much of this mining has taken place has been hard to come by. Now, reports Yessenia Funes at Earther, researchers have created a new mapping tool to quantify the impacts of surface mining in Appalachia.

Researchers from Duke University and the environmental nonprofits SkyTruth and Appalachian Voices used new web-based mapping tools and Landsat satellite imagery to study land use in the Appalachian coal belt over the last 31 years. They found that since the 1970s, surface mining has impacted 7.1 percent of central Appalachia. The research appears in the journal PLOS ONE. Continue Reading →

End of the rainbow: The future of gold mining in Nevada – by Suzanne Featherston (Elko Free Press – July 21, 2018)

ELKO — Boom. Bust. Rush. Crash. These words are associated with the cyclical nature of the world’s minerals extraction industry known for making and breaking companies, economies, towns and fortunes.

Nevada – where mining has existed before statehood — has witnessed these ups and downs over time but now is experiencing a rather rare phenomenon in the mining industry.

“There has been a gold rush in Nevada for close to 50 years,” said John Muntean, an economic geologist and associate professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, who works for the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology. Continue Reading →

Critical Minerals Alaska – Chromite – by Shane Lasley (North of 60 Mining News – June 28, 2018)

Essential stainless-steel ingredient mined in Alaska during both World Wars

A vital ingredient in stainless steel and superalloys, chromium is considered by the United States Geological Survey as “one of the Nation’s most important strategic and critical materials.”

“Because there is no viable substitute for chromium in the production of stainless steel and because the United States has small chromium resources, there has been concern about domestic supply during every national military emergency since World War I,” the USGS explains.

Rich chromite deposits on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula were able to ease some of these concerns by providing a domestic supply of chromite, the only mineral of chromium metal, to help fill America’s increased demand for chromium during both World Wars. Continue Reading →

[Minnesota Mining] ‘IT IS A HISTORY WORTH TELLING’ – by Leah Ryan (Mesabi Daily News – June 27, 2018)

SOUDAN — “If you haven’t been [to the Soudan Underground Mine] it is one of the three or four drop-to-your-knees outstanding experiences you can have at a state park,” said Erika Rivers, director of State Parks and Trails at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

June 7 was the ribbon cutting of the new campground at Vermilion State Park, in the same area as Soudan Underground Mine State Park. “The camping opportunity here with the mine will create a historical learning experience,” said Minnesota Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook. “It is a history worth telling.”

“The Soudan Underground Mine is one of the most awesome places in the state of Minnesota,” said Parl Manager Jim Essig. “It showcases the heritage of the people of the Iron Range. Plus, it is a lot of fun,” Essig couldn’t help but adding with a genuine smile. Continue Reading →

[Utah Mining History] Lunch and hike fundraiser will put a ring back in Little Bell ore bin – by Scott Iwasaki (Park Record – June 25, 2018)


Park Record

Park City’s 100-year-old mining heritage is literally at a tipping point. Sandra Morrison, executive director of the Park City Museum, said the many of the wooden mining structures, such as the Little Bell ore bin, are on the verge of collapsing.

The old mining structure might be familiar to regulars of the Deer Valley ski trails. “It’s on the Bandana ski run, and many of us have skied it past on our way to Empire,” said Morrison. “The Little Bell Mine was one of the more than 300 operating mines during our town’s mining era.”

The structure is basically wood sitting on dirt, and the unprotected wood is deteriorating because of melting snow and other weather conditions she said. “We have to get the wood onto concrete foundations so it’s not sitting in water,” Morrison said. Continue Reading →

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

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)

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)

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 →