Mining Photos

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Mining Photos

All photos included here are in the Public Domain in the United States of America unless noted otherwise. Western photographers are noted in the Players (if I have a workable date for them) [LOC = Library of Congress]. Nothing in the way of enhancement has been done to these photographs they are as originally produced.

The Miner’s Song

“For forty years I’ve hammered steel and tried to make a strike,
I’ve burned twice the powder Custer ever saw.
I’ve made just coin enough to keep poorer than a snake.
My jack’s ate all my books on mining law.
I’ve worn gunny-sacks for overalls, and ‘California socks,’
I’ve burned candles that would reach from here to Maine,
I’ve lived on powder, smoke, and bacon, that’s no lie, boy, I’m not fakin’,
But I still believe we’ll strike it just the same.”
– unknown –


Mining Activities in the Old West.

“A mine is a hole in the ground with a liar at the top.”

Sutter’s Mill

Sutter's Millsite Monument - Mining Photos

Ho! for Califor-i-a,
As the gold is thar, most everywhar,
They dip it out with an iron bar,
And where its thick, with a spade or pick
we can dig out hunks as big as a brick.
As we explore the distant shore,
Filling our pockets with shinning ore,
How it will sound when the shout goes round,
Filling our pockets with dozens of pounds.


A monument constructed near the site of the Sutter’s Mill gold discovery in California.
Photo: U.S. PD by Bobak Ha’Eri.  {001}

Wk. 04, 01/24/1848 – Sutter’s Mill
Photo Gallery – Mining Photos – Gold Rushes


It didn’t all glint in the sun in a stream bed, but where was the rest of the gold?
If you found gold in rock on the ground, what did you do?

Doghole - Mining Photos

It’s a prospecting hole, a “doghole”.

As with most things, the more education you had, the better your odds. Whatever skills or luck it took to find gold, you still had to collect it somehow. If you thought you had “color”, you went for the source whether that was upstream from a placer or down into the ground to try and locate a seam from clues on the surface. Throughout the west, in mining country, one finds prospect holes. Here is what going down into the ground looks like. Think pick and shovel. Black powder was heavy, dangerous to carry and expensive to use as a prospecting tool. This “doghole” is bigger than many and smaller than some in the Colorado mountains. How far do you dig? There was more than one story of that last shovel full before quitting the hole being paydirt…* This hole is in the San Juan Mountains above Telluride, CO at nearly 9,000 ft. Old time prospectors might have built a cabin and “wintered over” up there to do what work they could in the winter and be in a promising area in early spring. Between, accident, cold, hunger and Indians it could have been interesting times up there in the old days.**

I’ve mined more than few dogholes, used as mining camp trash disposals, for antique bottles and the like, up in the Independence Mining District in Gilpin County, CO and other places. Hit a little bit of paydirt myself, doin’ that. Some of those holes finally paid off.
Photo: by Doc -A “doghole”.

*Wk.24, 06/12/1859 – Comstock Lode
**Wk. 16, 04/16/1874 – Alferd Packer


The hearty men pictured below took it a tad further than a doghole…
Here is a look at a real hardrock mine, c. 1889.

 Montana Mine

Montana Mine - John C. H. Grabill LOC - Mining Photos

John C. H. Grabill LOC


 Things changed when water was involved…

 Old Time Miners – (Sluice box)

Old Time Miners - John C. H. Grabill LOC - Mining Photos

John C. H. Grabill LOC


 Gold Panners –  “There’s color here boys!”

Gold Panners - John C. H. Grabill LOC - Mining Photos

John C. H. Grabill LOC


Hydraulic Mining

Hydralic mining - John C. H. Grabill LOC - Mining Photos

The devastation one of these things can do is amazing! – Photo: U.S. PD LOC, John C. H. Grabill


 The hard rock miners sent their ore to places like these…

The Smelter at Oreana, NV

Oreana Smelter - John C. H. Grabill LOC - Mining Photos

John C. H. Grabill LOC


Deadwood Terra Stamp Mill

Deadwood Terra Stamp Mill - John C. H. Grabill LOC - Mining Photos

John C. H. Grabill LOC


Standard Consolidated Mining Co. Stamp Mill at Bodie, CA

Photo: U.S. PD 2016 – King of Hearts  ( Mill c. late 1870’s)

Just for Fun Pages – Monsters and Supernatural Beings of the Old West – The Bodie Curse


Many are the ways…

 The Sweetser & Burroughs Gold Mining Dredge on the Snake River

Idaho Gold Dredge - Mining Photos

Photo: U.S. PD.


 A Mule Team pulls ore wagons from a mine at Tombstone, AZ Terr.

Tombstone Mine mule team - Mining Photos

Photo: U.S. PD, c. 1870’s


The Cradle

The Cradle - Mining PhotosIn the early days before the advent of hydraulic mining, a number of devices were invented to increase the productivity of a lone miner.
The Cradle, by Henry Sandham, published in The Century illustrated monthly magazine Jan 1883

, 06/12/1859 – Comstock Lode


 “Taking gold out of a sluice box”

Taking gold from a sluice box - Mining PhotosU.S. PD, The Coast magazine (02/1902) thought to be by Asahel Curtis


Drill, Load and Blast!

Mining Photos - Miners drillingRunning a “drifter”, a hard rock drill
Photo: U.S. PD


 Mining on the Comstock

Mining on the Comstock - Mining Photos This wonderful litho clearly shows the, so-called “Square-set timbering” system invented by German mine superintendent Philip Deidesheimer. The ore body, no matter what size or shape, was replaced as it was removed by this timber lattice [6′ x 6′] which was sometimes backfilled. These ores also required special milling and chemical processing to be economical. Improved, more environmentally friendly processes are generally used in the industry today. Note the great selection of miner’s tools we are shown.
Photo & Art: U.S. PD, T.L. Dawes (drawing); Le Count Bros. San Fransisco (lithographers)

see also:
Wk. 24, 06/12/1859 – Comstock Lode


An Arrastre an old Mexican gold mill - Mining Photos

An Arrastre an old Mexican gold mill.

They have been found in many places in the Southwest.
Photo: U.S. PD? – internet


Bullion Mine, Virginia City, NV c.1875-77

Bullion Mine - Mining PhotosThis was probably about the time these mines were actually played out at economical working depths. However, no one was willing to admit it; after all, they had survived the Crime of ’73.*  so the dance went on and the values went down and the money sunk, ever faster, back into the earth. The enormous expense and danger of driving these mines deeper and deeper ended in 1884 at 3,300 feet in the Mexican winze. Work continued in some mines and in the tailings until about 1922 when the last pumps were shut down and the mines allowed to flood. Photo: U.S. PD

Wk. 07, 02/12/1873 – Crime of ’73

Mine Diagram - Mining Photos© Britannica Online for Kids


Cripple Creek Mining District, CO

Bob Womack makes a strike.*

The gold-bearing area of the Cripple Creek district was the core of an ancient volcano within the Thirtynine Mile volcanic area. Free or native gold was found near the surface, but at depth, unoxidized gold tellurides and sulfides were found.  –  Article in process…

*Wk: 42, 10/20/1890 – Bob Womack


The Argo Mine and Mill in Idaho Springs, CO - Mining PhotosThe Argo Mine and Mill at Idaho Springs, CO
I did some tourist cowboy work around the Argo back in 1990’s. Doc


 20 mule Team Wagons for hauling Borax from the mines.

Borax Wagons - Mining Photos

Borax Wagons -Kevin Saff via Wikipedia

Wk 2, 01/08/1856 –  John Veatch


 Labor Unrest

Working conditions in western mines were atrocious and death and injury far too common. As the miners began to organize to protect themselves, they faced goon squads of company guards, Pinkertons and local businessmen. The following incidents are certainly the worst but there was plenty of action in other locations.

The Ludlow Massacre – 1914

Ludlow Tent Colony - Mining Photos

Ludlow Ruins - Mining PhotosRuins of the Ludlow Colony near Trinidad, Colorado, following an attack by the Colorado National Guard.
Photo: part of the George Grantham Bain Collection at the Library of Congress
(see: Wk. 16, 04/12/1914)

In the aftermath, armed miners attacked a number of mines and fought skirmishes with the Colorado National Guard. The nation, began to take a more honest look at the issues and some new laws were passed; then…


The Bisbee Deportation – 1917

Bisbee Deportation - Mining PhotosJuly 12, 1917: Armed members of the Citizens Protective League, a company sponsored Vigilance Committee, made up of mine superintendents, local businessmen and some members of the opposing union, the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers [IUMMSW], hold some 1200 striking miners of the Industrial Workers of The World (“Wobblies“), townspeople and by-standers under “arrest” at Warren Ballpark. They were informed that those would renounce the union and return to work would be released. Later that day, 1267 recalcitrant workers were forced at machine gunpoint into uncleaned cattle cars for a 205 mile haul across the daytime desert in 90+ temperatures with one short stop for water and no food. The round-up had begun at dawn and the train reach its destination at three AM the following morning. They were dumped on the community of Hermanas, NM and warned never to return to Bisbee. Later, many more were intimidated by kangaroo courts (with complicity of local law enforcement) run out of town and threatened with lynching if they returned. This included those who owned homes and businesses. These tactics and other variations on intimidation went on until November 1917 when an order from the Arizona Attorney General effectively ended the purge. The U.S. Labor Department brought Phelps Dodge, Calument and Arizona executives, various county officials , lawmen and others to trial but the Feds dismissed the case and passed the buck to the states; Arizona did nothing and the event itself, was basically buried. A few miners received small settlements. Even so, this is a big story that had repercussions for years regarding labor disputes, company, local, state and federal authority and free speech. Look it up! Photo: U.S. PD, Arizona Historical Society.  {001}

Wk. 28, 07/12/1917 – The Bisbee Deportation
References – DictionaryIndustrial Workers of the World
Wk. 27, 07/05/1917 – The Jerome Deportation

 This video by OWDR Contributor Ann Ramsey {022} is a nice insight to the boom and bust of a small western mining community. In this case, no fault of the community or the market for coal caused the mines to close…

The Mystery of Burning Mountain in New Castle, CO
Published 04/02/2014 by Ann Louise Ramsey © 2014.
Used by permission. Please contact Ann if you wish to use her work.

First came the miners to work in the mine,
Next came the ladies who lived on the line.
— Old Western Mining Adage —

For related information on this subject in Old West Daily Reader

For related information on this subject in Old West Daily Reader
see also:
Photo Gallery Index – Mining Photos – Mining MineralsBorax, Gold, Silver, etc.
Photo Gallery Index – Mining Photos – Gold Rushes
Photo Gallery Index – Mining Photos – Silver Rushes
Photo Gallery Index – Mining PhotosMining on the Comstock
Photo Gallery Index – Transportation Photos
Photo Gallery Index – Transportation Photos – Railroads in the West
The Originals Index – Commerce in the Old West
The Originals Index – Expeditions
The Originals Index – Lost Treasures in the Old West
The Originals Index – Lost Treasures in the Old West – Hoaxes
The Originals Index – Mine Names in the Old West
The Originals Index – Western Forts and Trading Posts
The Originals Index – Trade in the Old West
The Originals Index – Trade in the Old West – Commerce in the Old West
The Originals Index – Entertainment in the Old West –
Brothels, Saloons, Dance Halls, Gambling
The Originals Index – Entertainment in the Old West – Doves & Nighthawks
Wk. 52, 12/28/1933 – Gold Standard
References – Dictionary – Mining Terms…


barbed wire divider2 - Mining PhotosEnd: Mining Photos

{001}  C 10/18; E 09/18: F 12/11; P 09/18

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