Archive | United States Mining History

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 →

Alaska’s Quiet Gold Rush – by Mike Coppock (True West Magazine – March 1, 2009)

A history of Alaska’s gold rushes reveals riches found in historic mines today.

He said his name was Tommy. In his 60s, he had driven his compact pickup truck from Mississippi all the way to Alaska. Arriving in Homer, he spent nearly $1,000 having the vehicle transported by the ocean ferry Tustumena for Popof Island, nearly 300 miles west of Kodiak.

Popof can be one of Alaska’s most stunning vistas with its emerald grasslands and powerful mountain backdrops. But, not today. Aleutian-style weather had set it. It was late May, and I was amused that I could see my breath as horizontal rain dug deep into my face and clothes. Only my long johns kept me dry.

Tommy was oblivious to the weather or anything else. With the musical draw that defines a Southern accent, he showed me his equipment he had just lugged down from the cliff above. He had set up a sluice operation along a lonely beach just a few hundred feet from the edge of a runway serving as the town of Sand Point’s airport. Continue Reading →

Trump ‘Has a Point’ on China’s Cheap Aluminum, Glencore CEO Says – by Jack Farchy, Erik Schatzker and Mark Burton (Bloomberg News – June 1, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Donald Trump “has a point” in criticizing China’s trade in aluminum and steel as cheap power has effectively been a subsidy to Chinese producers, said Glencore Plc chief Ivan Glasenberg.

Trump should be pragmatic in dealing with China, given that it imports a lot of U.S. goods, said Glasenberg during a Bloomberg Television panel at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

“China was producing coal and selling it to the power stations at a loss,” he said. “Aluminum companies were getting subsidized power.” Continue Reading →

EPA uranium hearings: A tale of two cities – by John D. Taylor (Rapid City Journal – May 16, 2017)

http://rapidcityjournal.com/

HOT SPRINGS – On a gray Wednesday when a little mni wichoni (Lakota for life-giving water) was falling from the skies, a group of about 40 protesters marched from Centennial Park to the Mueller Center shouting “Mni Wichoni, water is life,” and “No uranium mining in the Black Hills,” along the way.

The protesters – including Sarah Peterson and Mary Helen Pederson, from the local group, It’s All About the Water, as well as a contingent of Oglala Lakota elders, children and adults from Pine Ridge, Rapid City and other locations, along with a veterans group, all part of the Clean Water Alliance of the Black Hills – were concerned about the threats they believe AzaragaUranium/Powertech’s plans for the Dewey Burdock in situ leaching uranium mining project will bring to the area, particularly the dry region’s water resources.

After praying, the contingent descended on the Mueller Center to share their concerns about the project with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), at the fourth of five scheduled public hearings EPA would hold on the company’s plans and the two draft permits the agency has issued to Azarga/Powertech, along with the Clean Water Act exemption the one permit will require. Continue Reading →

OLD WEST LEGENDS: George Hearst – Father of a Mining & Publishing Empire (Legends of America – March 2014)

http://www.legendsofamerica.com/

Born near Sullivan, Missouri on September 3, 1820, to William and Elizabeth Collins Hearst, George was the oldest of three children. Two years later, his sister Martha (nicknamed Patsy,) was born and later a younger brother Philip arrived, who was unfortunately crippled from birth. From a young age, George worked on the family farm and received very little formal schooling.

Though Hearst was said to have had a lifelong interest in books, he had only rudimentary reading abilities. However, even without a formal education, Hearst was no dummy, as the world would soon see. When George was 26, his father William Hearst died owing some $10,000 to his creditors. George immediately took on the responsibility for caring for his mother, younger sister, and crippled brother.

Before long, George had improved on the farm’s profitability, opened a small store and leased a couple of prospective lead mines. The oldest economic endeavor in Missouri, lead had been mined in the area since 1715. Hearst had been interested in the mines since he was a child and once he bought the lead mines, he began to studying the mining business in earnest. His mines prospered, producing both lead and copper and within two years he was able to pay off his father’s debt. Continue Reading →

MISSOURI LEGENDS: Joplin – A Lead Mining Maven (Legends of America – August 2015)

http://www.legendsofamerica.com/

When traveling Route 66, the path from Webb City to Joplin is seamless, as Webb City has virtually become a suburb of its larger sister city.

Joplin, Missouri, the self-touted lead mining capital of the world, was first settled by the Reverend Harris G. Joplin in 1839. The minister held church services in his home for other area pioneers long before the city of Joplin was ever formed. Before the Civil War, lead was discovered in the Joplin Creek Valley; but, mining operations were interrupted by the war.

In 1870, a large lead strike occurred which brought many miners to the area and numerous mining camps sprang up. Soon, a man named John C. Cox filed a town site plan on the east side of the valley which was quickly populated by a number of new businesses. The town was named for Joplin Creek, which was called such, after the Reverend Harris G. Joplin. Continue Reading →

The Trump riddle: Did the president’s grandfather — or another Fred Trumpf — flip klondike claims? – by Maura Forrest (National Post – May 6, 2017)

http://news.nationalpost.com/

It was the summer of 1897, and word was beginning to filter south that there was gold up in the Klondike. Fred Trumpf got his foot in the door early. By the time the first prospectors landed in Seattle carrying the gold that launched the stampede, he’d already applied for a mining claim near Dawson City, in today’s Yukon Territory. His signature, “Fred Trumpf,” is still clearly visible on the original application, 120 years later.

By the looks of things, Trumpf wasn’t all that interested in digging for gold. On July 8, he split up his claim, which had cost him $15, and sold one half for $400. A few months later, he sold the other half for $2,000, equal to more than $50,000 today.

That September, he did it again — applied for a claim, split it up, and sold for a tidy profit. There’s no evidence he ever did any work on either claim. It’s widely known that Donald Trump’s grandfather — born Friedrich in Germany in 1869 — got his start by opening a gold rush hotel in the Yukon in 1898 and “mining the miners,” as Trump biographer Gwenda Blair put it. Continue Reading →