Sunday, September 9, 2012

Strikin' it Rich!

With some great family time, that is!
We three had a great day yesterday driving down to Cripple Creek, CO (about 2 hrs south) to tour the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine!
(I have been on this tour 3x now in my lifetime & it just keeps getting better!!)
A little history...
Mollie Kathleen struck gold on this day in 1891 while stopping to rest on her way up Poverty Gulch to view the elk. As she glanced down at the rocks around her, one of them twinkled back at her, using a rock to scrape away a little of the surface, revealed to her was a vein of PURE gold laced in quartz! Mollie became the first woman to strike gold in the area & stake the claim in her name! 
Gold was mined here until it got too costly at $70/oz in the 1960's, even though 3 foot wide veins of gold can be seen throughout the mine during the tour!! Today, gold's up to $1700/oz! Our guide said that many of the old mines are re-opening now that it's not so costly to mine the ore & make a profit. He's a 3rd generation miner & intends to be there if they re-open the mine in the near future!
Although I had been on this tour just over 15 years ago, I was still not looking forward to being crammed into a tiny cage & dropped into the earth 1000 feet below! But I sucked it up, shelved my panic for small spaces & got in this cage with Nick, the Magpie, an average-sized tourist-fella, our guide & another not-so-average sized tourist-fella! Yes, 6 of us in an approx 7x7 cage that can hold up to 9 miners! I started off with my eyes closed, but our guide was aware of my situation & turned on his light. Although I was still confined, it was easier being able to see. 
We dropped 1000 feet in less than 2 minutes!
I only took a few photos inside because I knew they wouldn't turn out great...but the tour was awesome!
how to get around underground!
ore carts in one tunnel
Mollie Kathleen's strike 1000 feet above
the magpie was super inquisitive!
getting back on the cages to go up
The tour was 1 hour long & totally worth it! We learned about how the miners drilled the holes for the dynamite (with a hammer & spike to go 2ft deep!); what lighting they had (3-4" candles for an 8hr shift!) back in the early days of mining all the way up to the early 60's when compressed air was used for drilling & a clean burning fuel used for light. We rode on an air-powered tram through 200+ feet of narrow tunnels & got to see (& take one of our own!) the first strike, real gold ore specimens from the 5 surrounding mines in the area, including the piece that caught Mollie's eye!

We also enjoyed walking around above ground, where we had great, fresh burgers at the grill & looked at all the cool old equipment & outbuildings.
the grill
the magpie & the jalopy!
Unfortunately, we had to head home because it was late in the day, so we didn't have time to walk around Cripple Creek & Victor. Hopefully someday soon I will go back with my camera! We did capture these images of the back side of Pikes Peak...It's just a beautiful area!
That's it for now!
Have a wonderful Sunday!

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