Archive | United States Mining History

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

http://tucson.com/

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)

http://tucson.com/

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)

http://www.legendsofamerica.com/

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)

http://rapidcityjournal.com/

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)

http://magazine.cim.org/en/

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 →

Fannie Quigley, the Alaska Gold Rush’s All-in-One Miner, Hunter, Brewer, and Cook – by Tessa Hulls (Atlas Obscura – August 21, 2017)

http://www.atlasobscura.com/

She used mine shafts as a beer fridge and shot bears to get lard for pie crusts.

TALES OF ALASKA’S GOLD RUSHES, which began in the 1890s, are full of larger-than-life men—bold, cantankerous fellows who drank and swore and shot as they chased promises of gold across the stark, untrammeled tundra. But nestled among all the stories of men is the story of Fannie Quigley, a five-foot-tall frontierswoman who spent almost 40 years homesteading and prospecting in Kantishna, a remote Alaskan mining region that would later become part of Denali National Park.

Like the men around her, Quigley drank, swore, and shot bears—but unlike those men, she used her bear lard to create the legendarily flaky crusts of the rhubarb pies she served to her backcountry guests.

Over her decades in the backcountry, Quigley acquired a reputation as not only a renowned hostess and cook, but one of the finest hunters the region had ever seen. Her guests—who were many, despite the fact that her cabin was only accessible by foot or dogsled— Continue Reading →

Millions of Orchids Are Blooming in an Abandoned Iron Mine – by Michelle Z. Donahue (National Geographic – May 12, 2016)

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/

The plants are thriving in a wetland that sprang up after the mine was shuttered in the 1970s.

A vacationer heading to Lake Placid on State Route 3 could be forgiven for barely glancing at a group of dilapidated buildings on the way through Star Lake, New York. Those structures are all that remain of what was once the world’s largest open-pit iron mine.

But hidden in a wooded marsh directly across the street, curious road trippers would find an even more startling deposit: Millions of orchids have been thriving for over 60 years on the blighted industrial waste site.

The colorful flowers are growing atop a wetland that formed at the base of a pile of tailings—crushed rock left over when iron ore is extracted from its surroundings. As part of her research, graduate student Grete Bader tallied up the plants within 20 predefined plots, and her work suggests wildflowers now cover the hundred-acre wetland. Continue Reading →

Coal no longer fuels America. But the legacy — and the myth — remain – by Karen Heller (Washington Post – July 9, 2017)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/

Boone County claims to be the birthplace of America’s coal industry, the rich and abundant black rock discovered in these verdant hills almost three centuries ago. Coal gives name to nearly everything in these parts — the Big and Little Coal rivers, the weekly Coal Valley News, the wondrous Bituminous Coal Heritage Foundation Museum and the West Virginia Coal Festival, celebrating, as we arrive in town, its 24th year.

The festival is more state fair than true celebration of coal. There’s a carnival, a talent competition, seven beauty queens (from Little Miss Coal Festival to Forever West Virginia Coal Queen).

Late in the afternoon of the second day, high on a hill graced with the statue of a miner, there’s a small memorial service for the West Virginia men who died on the job over the previous year. The most recent was 32-year-old Rodney Osbourne, pinned by mining equipment on June 14. Continue Reading →

Mine boy tended mules underground – by Bill White (The Morning Call – June 28, 2017)

http://www.mcall.com/

I have a great little coal mine story to share, and while I’m at it, I’ll include some of the other reminiscences and other reactions to my latest coal cracker columns. Just to review, I wrote Sunday about my tour of the No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum in Lansford and the week before about the Lehigh Anthracite surface mining operation in Tamaqua. Previous columns have featured people’s memories about life in the mines and in the coal region.

I got this first story over the phone, but I’ll repeat it more or less in the words of the caller, Robert Weed, 87, of Bethlehem, who got his only coal-mining experience in the Hudson Coal Co. mine in Peckville, Lackawanna County.

“I was 7 going on 8 years of age, and I desperately wanted a bicycle,” he said. “My father worked for the Hudson Coal Co. up in the Scranton-Wilkes Barre area, and he found me a job so I could earn money to buy a bicycle. “I went for nine months, I believe. At 5:15 in the morning, I rode the tram with the mine superintendent, I believe 180 feet underground. [The superintendent was there to walk the mine with a canary in a cage to check for methane gas.] Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: [American] National Mining Hall of Fame Names 2017 Inductees (April 28, 2017)

https://www.mininghalloffame.org/

LEADVILLE, Colo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–2017 National Mining Hall of Fame Inductees – The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum (NMHFM) today announced the 2017 National Mining Hall of Fame inductees. This year’s inductees, selected by the National Mining Hall of Fame’s Board of Governors, represent exploration and extraction of new frontiers, environmental stewardship, leadership in formulating U.S. mineral policy, education, and research and development, including the use of computers in planning, designing, and managing mineral industry operations.

The contributions of these individuals have undoubtedly had a significant and lasting impact on the mineral and mining industry; these individuals were selected for being visionary leaders, innovators, authors, pioneers in corporate social responsibility, and long-standing advocates for the U.S. mining industry.

Dr. Thomas V. Falkie, Leonard Harris, Dr. Vincent E. McKelvey, and Gordon R. Parker will join 236 other mining industry luminaries when formally inducted into the National Mining Hall of Fame on Sept. 23, 2017. The 30th Annual Induction Banquet and Ceremony will be held at the Pinnacle Club, Grand Hyatt in Denver, CO. Continue Reading →

Felice Pedroni (Felix Pedro)- Sparked the 1902 Fairbanks Gold Rush – by Thomas K. Bundtzen (Alaska Mining Hall of Fame – 1998/2009)

http://alaskamininghalloffame.org/

Felice Pedroni, best known by his Hispanicized alias, Felix Pedro, was an Italian immigrant whose discovery of gold in the then remote Tanana River valley of Interior Alaska, sparked the 1902 Fairbanks gold rush, which resulted in the development of Alaska’s largest gold district, frequently referred to by chroniclers of the day as “America’s Klondike”.

Pedroni was born on April 16th, 1858, in Fanano, Duchy of Modena, Italy, to a family of subsistence farmers. In 1881, following the death of his father, Pedroni arrived in New York City, and eventually assumed the name of Felix Pedro. Pedro traveled across the North American Continent, and worked in New York City, Ohio, Washington State, and British Columbia and Yukon Territory, Canada.

In each locale, Felix would work until he had earned enough money to travel again. Pedro finally reached Alaska sometime in the 1890s, before the 1893 Circle (Alaska) and 1896 Klondike (Canada) gold rushes. The Circle-based Pedro first prospected the Fortymile district near the Canadian border, and then the Piledriver Slough area near present day community of Salcha. Continue Reading →

Museum offers nuggets of mining history – by Staff (News Miner – June 16, 2017)

http://www.newsminer.com/

http://alaskamininghalloffame.org/

FAIRBANKS – Fairbanks has its roots in gold. When Felix Pedro found gold in Fish Creek in 1902, he and his fellow prospectors laid the groundwork for today’s lively community. Pedro, and the miners who followed him, including those active today, forged a rich history that is captured in the Alaska Mining Hall of Fame museum on First Avenue.

The museum, organized by the Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Foundation, opened in summer 2014 and is located in the Historic Bath House and Oddfellow’s Hall at 825 First Ave., on the corner of First Avenue and Cowles Street.

The two-story building was constructed in 1907. The Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Foundation was formed to honor outstanding individuals who have played important roles in the development of Alaska’s mineral industry. Continue Reading →

THE STRANGE SECRET HISTORY OF OPERATION GOLDFINGER – by James Ledbetter (New Yorker Magazine – June 10, 2017)

http://www.newyorker.com/

In September of 1965, Joe Barr, a Treasury Department official with a long history in government, agreed to meet with a group of members of Congress from Western states. He knew what to expect. Earlier that year, he had met with the same group, and endured its ire over the Treasury’s reluctance to help the American gold industry.

After the Second World War, world leaders had met at Bretton Woods, in New Hampshire, and, as part of an agreement on an international monetary system, had fixed the price of gold at thirty-five dollars an ounce. This had, predictably, depressed the U.S. mining industry, even as the demand for private gold shot up. The more easily obtained sources of gold had been depleted over the years, while harder-to-reach sources became more difficult to mine profitably, given the static price.

Foreign competition—chiefly from Canada and South Africa, where mines were less depleted and labor costs were lower—was far more intense by 1960 than it had been after the war, when the price of gold was set. The United States was a distant third in gold production. Rather than attempt to compete, many mines simply shut down. Continue Reading →

How four Irishmen found the largest pot of silver ever known in Nevada – by Peter Garland M. A. (IrishCentral.com – June 12, 2017)

https://www.irishcentral.com/

Perhaps it was those millennia of experience that, in 1873, led four Irishmen – Mackay, Fair, Flood and O’Brien – to the Comstock Lode, the greatest pot of gold and silver the world has ever known. They located an enormous silver heart within Mount Davidson in Nevada.

The first to putter around above the great trove were a couple of surface gold miners named Peter O’Riley and Patrick McLaughlin. These men did not know about nor have the resources to mine down thousands of feet to the silver; they panned for gold and moved on, not realizing that a blue sand that clogged their simple wooden machinery, was in fact silver mixed with gold. Assayed later in 1859 by other men, this sand proved to be “almost a solid mass of silver,” and the silver rush was on.

Eventually it took stockholders, powerful machinery, new mining techniques, and millions of dollars to penetrate the pile and extract billions in silver and gold. Chief among those who pioneered and benefited from the lode were the four Irishmen. Continue Reading →

Mohave County asks feds to review ban on mining uranium near the Grand Canyon – by Ron Dungan (The Arizona Republic – June 7, 2017)

http://www.azcentral.com/

The Mojave County Board of Supervisors asked Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke this week to consider lifting a 20-year uranium mining ban on public lands in northern Arizona.

The supervisors said in letters to Zinke that mining would restore jobs and pump money into the local economy, and asked the Interior Department to consider the status of the ban while he reviews 27 national monuments, including Grand Canyon-Parashant.

“This ban took away much needed growth and jobs from our area,” one of the letters said. “We are requesting that your office look into this ban and if necessary start a process with public comments to withdraw the ban.” The board endorsed the letter Monday on a unanimous vote. The final version of the letter was mailed Wednesday. Continue Reading →