Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Field Trip: Mollie Kathleen 1

Hubster and I went to Cripple Creek for an overnight on Tuesday. The weather was NOT conducive to picture taking. I'm talking snow, cold, and gloomy skies. But on Wednesday, things were better, and on our drive home, we stopped to tour the Mollie Kathleen mine. The tour takes you down 1000 feet. This week, we'll look at what it was like down there, and next week, I'll share some of the pictures from up top.

There were 5 of us plus a guide on the tour. We barely squeezed into a cage that was supposed to hold 8 miners for the descent to 1000 feet. Those guys must have been small. Small wonder they posted this sign at the top:

Down below, we were given demonstrations of tools and mining methods, and how they progressed with time. The tunnels were dimly lit, but our guide would show us the reality by turning of the "tourist" lighting, leaving us to see what the miners had to deal with. Between the dark and the noise of the jackhammers and drills, working conditions would hardly pass today's standards. (They used to use burros to do the work, and they lived their entire lives in the mine until regulations said they had to be brought topside once a day. The cost was prohibitive, so they simply brought them up and released them, leaving men to do what the burros had done. They had a car loaded with its "normal" load of a ton of ore. A burro could pull 2. Neither of the men brave enough to try could move it more than a few inches.

So -- these are some views from inside the mine:

This was how the foreman got around:

Cripple Creek ore is purple: this is a vein discovered not that long ago, although it's not cost effective to mine it.

When we got back up, we wandered around and took pictures of some of the equipment and vistas. Those will be my field trip next Friday. And don't forget to leave a comment on Sarah Grimm's Tuesday post for a chance to win her book! Have a great weekend.


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Sounds fascinating--but I'm claustrophobic! Thanks for letting me experience your trip from a safe distance! :)

Wynter Daniels said...

Ha! Love the sign. I think I'd be too claustrophobic to go down into a mine shaft. Glad you took pictures so I can experience it vicariously;-)

Terry Odell said...

Elizabeth and Wynter -- sounds like you should get together. In reality, once down below, there was plenty of light, space, and air, but you probably wouldn't have enjoyed the 2 minute descent in the cramped elevator, where it was dark.

Karen said...

I can't imagine how the men were able to stand being down there for long periods of time. Thanks for sharing some of the history and the great pictures.