Mad Dogs & Rock Collectors Go Out In The Mid-day Sun! (Post up your Rocks & Mid-day Epics!)

  • Pretty cool stuff! what where the steam boilers used for?

  • @NickG Just like in a steam locomotive, the boiler steam was piped to pistons, which turned wheels. The wheels were connected to mine machinery with belts. They could run winches to raise & lower ore & miners up & down mine shafts, or pumps to pump water out of mines, or ore-crushing machinery. By the 1880's Ingersoll Rock Drill company sold a rock-drilling rig that used compressed air to cycle a pneumatic drill. It was far more efficient at drilling holes in mine tunnels, than men hitting hand-held drills with sledge hammers. Those holes were then filled with explosives to blast more rock or ore & extend the tunnels. So then, steam engines also ran air compressors which powered the drills, until smaller gas engines were developed early in the 20th century.

    "Small" gas engine is a relative term. My buddy Gordon, who you met, & I found this single-cylinder gas engine at an Idaho mine two years back. They are often called "hit & miss" engines & were widely used in the early 1900's.

  • saw some cool stuff up around Teluride in 2016 but didn't know what most of it was used for other than knowing it was for mining..

  • @NickG! Here's a Ingersoll Rand air compressor at a mine on Spruce Mountain Nevada. It likely dates to the 1920's.


  • looks like buzz worm heaven 😉

  • @NickG! I think it was above prime rattler territory, although I'm up to three encounters this year, including descending a mine dump on 2' diameter rocks & looking down at a disturbed & excited rattler in a hole, a foot below my right foot. I levitated out of that position. Mostly, I don't encounter rattlers at the high mines I visit.

    But, we were finding good mineral specimens. Garnet crystals on white calcite from that mine.

    Andradrite Garnets on white Calcite. Photo is a closeup of a 1 inch area.jpg

  • As interesting as all the historical stuff is it is also important to bear in mind the huge environmental impact from mining. Entire river systems, e.g. Clark Fork, became essentially sterile. Time and expensive cleanups footed by taxpayers rather than the mining barons restored fisheries decades later. Still ill advised to eat the fish so it's a good thing most sportsmen are into catch and release these days.

    Another example would be Anaconda Smelter Cleanup. Copper Barons declared bankruptcy prior to expensive cleanups that ended up tapping millions from the Super Fund. Folks who grew up there bitd often contracted various strange forms of cancer. My mother in law was pretty involved with the local historical society and records indicated the Barons we well aware of the hazards and even went so far as destroying records.

    Here's one more from the Anaconda Copper Legacy.

    Okay, sorry to be a downer. Just wanted to keep in perspective cuz while I dig these pics of days gone by it was pretty bad news ecologically. ✌

  • Two things
    In that sweltering garage that flooded, was the cardboard box containing
    what is left of a once-proud rock collection.
    My father & I amassed somewhere around 60 quality specimens.
    After my leaving he saw fit to leave 3 pounds of raw decaying Vermiculite
    in the same wood/glass display case.
    From all I've read, a bucket of soapy water and a light spray down
    will render the stones & crystals safe.
    From what I understand;
    my mother was known to pass out small hammers to very young children,
    to give them entertainment; smashing on the best of the semi-precious stones,(Pictures to follow in a few days)

    This is an awe-inspiring thread and I give tribute!
    It makes me think of a thing not so much as any sort of competition
    I can think of this to inspire me to do my own march to a sad castle that sits a click
    (or 2 at most) up a hill in the tick-infested mixed hardwoods.
    We'll usually go in the fall as it is an annual thing
    so it might be more in a month or 2.

  • Vermiculite is not that big a deal in small doses. water will keep the dust down. wear an N100 mask (majenta filters) if not you will probably live with a snug N95 dust mask. wash that stuff off and move on...

  • Toby! Your point is well-taken.

    "As interesting as all the historical stuff is it is also important to bear in mind the huge environmental impact from mining"

    Much of our history had dark spots, when we dig a little deeper. Mining caused & still causes incredible damage to our environment. An Idaho story that amuses me is that the "world-class" ski resort towns of Ketchum/Sun Valley had a lead smelter during the 1880's. The large & modern Philadelphia Smelter was on the banks of Big Wood River, just west of Ketchum & it smelted lead/silver/zinc ores from the many mines in the area.

    Here's a non-copyright stereoscope photo of the smelter & the railroad bridge to it from the Bancroft Library.
    Philadelphia Smelter-Bancrof Library, 1905.jpg

    The Smelter went bankrupt by 1890, but the environmental mess from it has been "swept under the carpet of history," since Ketchum/Sun Valley don't want to be thought of as a "mining waste site."

    Ketchum/Sun Valley celebrates the next local industry that was important, massive sheep-grazing, which also caused much erosion & damage with a highly-successful "Trailing of The Sheep" festival every fall, but I doubt if they will ever have a "Mining & Smelter" festival.

    I drove by the local airport two weeks ago, when the annual Paul Allen & Company "Billionaires Summer Camp" was happening. It is strange to see so-much wealth & power concentrated in a one-time mining boom town.



  • I managed a two-day outing to another group of high mines in "deepest Idaho." South Mountain sets near the Oregon border on the western edge of the Owyhee desert & has a mining history that goes back to the 1860's. The mines there mostly produced lead & zinc along with some silver & copper & achieved their most productive years in the 1940's & early 50's. They have now mostly slumbered for 65 years, but still hold substantial ore reserves. For the last 15 or so years much exploration work has been done on them, but fears that the mountain-top & BLM fire lookout would be replaced by an open-pit mine have not been realized, yet.

    Fire lookout at center left from my first mine hike of the day

    My abusive rock-hound parents dragged me to South Mountain when I was a teenager & forced me to look for old bottles, small mining artifacts, & mineral specimens. All I can remember finding is the box of mineral specimens I still have. Heidi & I went back in 2007 & enjoyed the wonderful solitude & terrific sunsets from the high treeless ridge the fire lookout sets on. There are of course, no developed campsites & no amenities, which is just the way we like it.

    Looking south at the Owyhee highlands & my SUV from the lookout.

    One of many open mine shafts.

    I was at a mine about 400 vertical feet under the summit on the east side when two Air force fighters cleared the summit by about 100' & roared off east. The dot in center of this photo is the 2nd jet.

    Most of South Mountain is a "Skarn" where semi-molten granite was uplifted millions of years ago into still more ancient limestone. It produced the ores that got mined & some minerals only of interest to collectors. Most of those minerals are on private lands, but some areas are still available, although 150 years of mineral collecting there has made collecting challenging.

    Here;s a big chunk of calcite, with sprays of Skarn iron minerals, brownish Hedenbergite & black Ilvaite. I left it in place.

    But, there is still the glorious sunsets & awesome sunrises.


    And even though I had to share my camp with cows, moonrise with cow is a rare photo opportunity.

  • ![0_1566056465770_IMG_2260 chrysocolla.JPG](Uploading 100%)

    Yeah, there is some issue post last weekend's updates that I've yet to debug. Intermittent glitches can be challenging to replicate and hence perplexing. Been busy w/other things. I have encountered it myself with "known good" images, however, so will get it figured. Sooner or later. Apologies in the meantime. 🤦

  • A few more photos from my most recent visit to "Deepest Idaho."

    A closeup of a nice chunk of copper ore & quartz. The yellow is Chalcopyrite & the blue is Bornite aka "Peacock Ore."

    IMG_2307 chalcopyrite n Bornite..JPG

    A nice little group of clear quartz crystals with black Ilvaite crystals.
    IMG_2258 quartz & black ilvaite.JPG

    And a view down to one of the old mines I hiked to & on to the Owyhee uplands & the Owyhee Mountains. .


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