Monday, 18 November 2013

Learning about Mining for Gold

While in Colorado we heard about a gold mine that we could tour, outside of the town of Cripple Creek.

Kids thought this was hysterical
This mine is a little over 1000 feet deep into the Earth.  We learned that this actually is not that deep for gold mines; there are mines in South Africa that go well over a mile underground.  At that depth, the heat of the planet begins to become a serious hazard for the miners.

We had an excellent tour guide who demonstrated many of the tools miners used, we saw how the equipment changed and improved over the years.  However most of it continues to be quite loud!

Tenderfoot miners' jobs were to fill these containers of soil and rock.   They needed a quota and many could not mange it.  
Supposedly Jack Dempsy, one of the most famous boxers in history, was fired from two different mines because he didn't meet his quotas.

Everything underground is powered by air pressure from compressors on the surface.

Getting an explanation on how dynamite was used and how it was carefully labeled to go off in a particular sequence

The explosive and the detonation cord used to set off the explosion.  Properly handling this type of explosive is a highly skilled job.

When mining gold you have to follow the veins so there are many levels.

Often people were sitting on nothing more than a board for hours using heavy and  loud machinery.  It was not unheard of the vibration of the tool to literally knock someone off their board and then falling many flights to their death. 

We rode an old carriage under ground

See saw a miner's bathroom.

Next we were taken into a locked room were we saw gold nuggets

We heard about the woman who owned this mine (which was considered very bad luck, so she only visited her mine twice giving it to her son to operate)  The story goes that she was walking along a path and sat down to rest and at her feet she found a gold nugget.

Seeing gold in a nugget

We were each given gold ore which is not the same as the stone above.  

If we use toxic chemicals and produce a great deal of heat we might get a teensy tiny silver of gold!

Learning about the bell system in tunnels which we were told was a standardized system  and every mine in the world should recognize these signals.

The elevator taking us up and down in the mine

Next we stopped at a working mine, we could only tour the outside of the plant.  Here is a tire of the big trucks that carry the dirt.

We also saw a reclamation section that the mining company is working on to bring this area which has been completely stripped of gold back to life

This mine is an open pit mining operation

At the top we saw the old mining company buildings that still remain

The old mining town
I thought it was good for the kids to see how gold was mined in the 1800's which is very different from how it is done today.  We also did not know that gold ore needs so much processing to produce actual gold.  We asked the miner what he thought was the most dangerous mining occupation, and he said that, in his opinion, it was coal mining due to the explosive nature of what's being mined.  In either case, underground mining of any type is still one of the most hazardous jobs in the world.


  1. That is one big tire! I don't think I could have handled going down in a mine, knowing how many have caved in recently. The bathroom in the mine is pretty funny, though how was everything brought out (or was it?). What is the bell system for? Is it a warning system? Looks like an interesting trip!

    1. the had the younger tenderfoot empty the pails from the bathroom, a yucky job :) The bell system is to convey messages for needed supplies or warning of a cave ins It was very interesting and the guide demonstrated it to us.

  2. WOW!! I am so excited to read this! We were at the Mollie Kathleen this summer as well! ( and hubby and i were there in summer of 1992!) So neat to read this! Love;s as if I'm back there when I look at your pics!

    Thanks for the memories and took some terrific shots!


  3. That looks really interesting! Brave too, I would have been too claustrophobic to go down a mine!!

  4. This looks like a great trip. We've never been there, but it's near to where we used to live. I'm making a note of it in case we ever get back to Colorado.

  5. Wow, this was quite an adventure. I don't know if I could have gone underground like this. I am a bit claustrophobic. I did learn a lot; so that was fun.
    Blessings to all; you are all brave~

  6. This looks fascinating. Gold mining sounds an amazingly dangerous occupation!

  7. It’s time to explore the mining jobs from job prospective and secure your dream job.