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Sparky's History of Gold Mining

Gold mining started in Colorado over a hundred years ago, probably just after the California Gold Rush rushed out and some of the returning miners tried panning for gold in the Colorado creeks and rivers.

They found a lot of little pieces of gold lost in the sand and gravel at the bottom of many creeks, and soon there was a Colorado Stampede, or gold rush, and towns sprang up everywhere.

After a while all of the loose gold nuggets and dust were removed from all the sand and many prospectors moved on.

Others, however, went upstream to discover where that gold dust had come from, and they found the rock where it had been cracked by weather, and the gold particles simply washed into the streams and rivers.

That was the beginning of "Hard Rock Mining," as it is known, whereby the remaining prospectors either partner together or go to work for a mining company, to tunnel into the mountains of the region looking for the main ore body.

This is an expensive endeavor, requiring heavy equipment and a large investment of both time and money, and will leave a miner either rich or poor.  Evidence of mines of all sizes is readily apparent by looking at the hills above Cripple Creek.

How Cripple Creek Got Its Name

The story is that there was this here old geezer that was chasing his cow across the valley, and the cow ran into a little creek that ran through town, and the cow fell and broke its leg in the creek.  Then the guy that was chasing it got mad and his horse threw him off and he fell into the creek and broke his leg, so he said, "That creek is a real crippler," and the name stuck.

What Us Guys Did in Cripple Creek

As you know, some of us always get out and sneak around whenever the old folks are off doing something interesting.

This time, though, we hid out in the van, cuz there was a lot of them Harley Davidson Motorcycle guys roaming around town, and if any of us was to try to cross the street, it might be curtains for us, cuz them motorcycles are pretty fast and it's hard to get out of the way if one of them is coming at you.

Harley Davidson Motorcycle like the ones we saw in Cripple Creek

The other reason is that a lot of them guys catch little guys like us and tie them on the front of their motorcycles with a piece of rope, and then you jest have to stay there and get bugs in your mouth, and get rained on, and all sorts of other bad things that none of us little guys would like.

Another reason is that there are a lot of gambling casinos in Cripple Creek, and that means that there are a lot of suspicious cops and security guards always looking everywhere, so we could also get caught by them as well.

Sparky's Southwestern Colorado Vacation Header

by Sparky

We left for Colorado Springs at around 2:00 on August 13, 2003, so we could beat the traffic rush that is reel bad earlier and later in the day.  That evening we went and ate dinner at a restaurant named Giuseppe's, which is an Italian restaurant located in the old train station, in the old part of the downtown area.

We didn't take any pictures of the place, cuz they have about a bunch of them on their website that you ken jest click on here:

Giuseppe's Old Depot Restaurant 

You ken also click below to find more information about that old train station:

More about the old train station 

Cripple Creek

Early the next morning, after breakfast, we blasted off for Cripple Creek, and got to the Mollie Kathleen Mine about 10:00 a.m., and bought tickets for the mine tour.  This tour takes you 1,000 feet below the surface in a couple of old things that look like little phone booths, two of them on top of each other, and lowered into the mineshaft with a long cable pulled up and down by a lecktrickal motor that turns a big reel that holds all that cable, and lets you down pretty slow so it doesn't crash into the bottom of the hole.  Sniffy got to go and he hid in Jim's pocket in his jacket, so he didn't have to get a ticket and spend all of his cash.

Howcum Sniffy Got to Go?
Sniffy came from the gift shop at Ruby Falls, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and behind that gift shop there is a great big cave that goes reel far into the mountain, and it ends up at a reel tall waterfall named Ruby Falls, so he knows all about caves, so that's why he went along, plus the rest of us guys are too big to fit into Jim's pocket, anyway.  You ken click here to find out more about Ruby Falls if you want to:

Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, Tennessee 

Picture #1 shows Sniffy checking out a little mine train locomotive that is sitting in the parking lot.  He wasn't able to drive it or anything.

Picture #2 shows the double decker mine cage elevators that everybuddy has to ride in if they don't want to climb down the rickety wooden ladders that are right next door to the elevator shaft.  Also, if the elevator breaks, you can always climb up the ladders to get out.

Picture #3 shows a tour guide, we'll call her "Michelle," who demonstrated all the air-powered machines down in that mine, and kept the old folks and Sniffy from getting lost down there.  Sniffy said everything down there was reel loud, and his rat ears was ringing fer a couple of days.

Picture #4 shows some empty old fashioned wooden dynamite boxes.

Picture #5 shows a special little mine bicycle that the miners use to get around in the mine, and also to get some exercise on the weekends and other times when it's too cold outside and they want to go for a bike ride.

Picture #6 shows an old ore car that is full of gold ore, and they let you dig through it and pick out any gold pieces you can find and keep them.  Sniffy got a reel valuable piece of that gold ore, and you ken see some tiny little pieces of gold in it.

Picture #7 shows the mine train that took them from one part of the mine to another part that was a couple of blocks away.  It was pulled by a little locomotive that ran on compressed air, and it made a lot of noise cuz it didn't have a muffler on the exhaust side of the "dry steam engine."

Picture #8 shows a vertical tunnel, called a "Stope," that runs up above the ceiling of the main mine tunnel.  This one goes up about 90 feet, with a ladder and small platform about every 10 feet so the miners could climb up to where they were working.  Think about how hard it is to drive a nail into a ceiling to hang something on.  Then think about the nail being a steel chisel about 1" in diameter and from 1 to 3 feet long, and you're going to drive it straight up into the solid rock with a 3 or 4 pound hammer.  And you're going to have to make about 15 or more of those holes, then load them with dynamite and blast the rock downward after you get out of there and run to safety.

Of course, in later years, the drilling was done with air-powered drills that shot rock mud and water all over the miners below, but at least it was just extremely noisy and messy, and the blasting was done with an electrically detonated blasting cap, so it was a lot easier then!

Sparky's Cripple Creek Photo Album

Sniffy sitting on the mine train locomotive in the parking lot
1. Sniffy on the mine locomotive

Mine elevator cages they rode in to the 1,000 foot level
2. Elevator cages they rode in

Loud air drill that makes holes for dynamite, as shown in the left of the picture
3. Loud air drill for dynamite holes

Empty old wooden dynamite boxes in the mine
4. Empty wood dynamite boxes

Old mine bike they use to ride around the mine and get exercise
5. Little bike they ride in the mine

Old ore car full of free samples of gold ore
6. Old ore car full of free gold ore

Mine car they rode into the back of the mine on
7. Mine train they rode in on

Vertical tunnel or stope that goes straight up
8. Vertical stope in the mine

Rickety old ore chute building behind the mine
9. Old ore building behind mine

Perpetual motion machine next to the elevator
10. Perpetual motion machine

Collection of steam rollers in the side lot
11. Real Steam rollers out back

Gloria inspecting the putt-putt railroad work car out back of the mine
12. Putt-putt railroad work car

Modern cardboard dynamite boxes safely stored out back, safely behind the "Keep Out" sign
13. Cardboard dynamite boxes
Sniffy sitting on the old truck at the front of the parking lot
14. Sniffy on old truck
Old steam shovel with bent arm, needs a lot of repairs
15. Old steam shovel
Old mining equipment lined up in the parking lot
16. Old mining machinery in front
Picture #9 shows an old building where the ore was dumped and stored until a truck or train pulled up underneath, and the ore was then released from the bottom of several chutes into the waiting vehicle which would then transport it for further processing.

Picture #10 shows an early, experimental, "Perpetual Motion" machine, which consists of 2 electrical generators and an electric motor, all hooked together through a central steel shaft.  The principle of operation is actually very simple.  The operator wraps a rope around a pulley on the end of the shaft at the end of the motor on the left of the picture, then by giving it a hard pull, much like starting a lawnmower, the entire mechanism spins.  The generator on the right then produces a quantity of electrical power that then turns the motor on the left, which, in turn, powers the generator in the middle.  It is this generator in the middle that actually produces the excess electrical power that is then used to power various electrical lights, radios, motors, etc., around the mine.  Further production of this machine was halted by oil and other energy interests due to the fact that it requires no outside energy to operate, and actually generates excess power.  To turn off the machine, you jest jam a special stick into the side of the center generator and use it to slow it down until it gets to going reel slow, then it stops making lecktrick power and the whole thing stops.  This is the only known "Perpetual Motion" machine in existence today, and the mine owners apparently don't realize what they have, so consequently they are not using it today.

Picture #11 shows several genuine "Steam Rollers" that were once used to smoosh down the fresh tar during the paving of streets and highways.

Picture #12 shows Gloria figuring how to load this little putt-putt railroad work car into the van so we can give it a better home and go for rides on the tracks near our house.

Picture #13 shows some modern cardboard dynamite boxes out behind the mine hoist building, stored safely behind a "Keep Out" sign on the fence.

Picture #14 shows Sniffy sitting on the fender of an old dump truck near the front of the parking lot of the Mollie Kathleen Mine.

Picture #15 shows an old real "Steam Shovel" that actually used to run on steam, before somebuddy picked up too heavy of a load and bent the boom arm in the middle.

Picture #16 shows a line of various mining equipment lined up in the parking lot.

For more information on touring the Mollie Kathleen Mine, click on the link here:   Mollie Kathleen Mine

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Head for the next page for more exciting action! --Sparky

Ways to Save Electricity

We was on this trip when New York and the other places there had their terrible power blackout, so here are some ways to conserve energy, that nobuddy told you about on TV or radio.

1. Put black lecktrikal tape over pilot lights on all computers, TV's, coffee pots, and all other home appliances.  Also, put tape on all appliance clocks that you seldom use.

2. Don't make your stuffed animals take a bath too often, and, for sure, never, never put them in the washing machine or clothes dryer.

3. Always make exter coffee all at the same time, then save it to drink cold the next time.

4. Make "Sun Tea," cuz it cooks in the sun and don't need no lecktrik to make.

5. Eat the entire box of ice cream so you don't have to waste energy opening the fridgerator door too often.  Get your root beer out at the same time, too.

6. Eat lots of chocolate chip cookies, cuz they're already cooked and you won't have to keep them in a special container or waste any power to keep them ready to eat.

7. Use battery powered tools and toys whenever possible, like my Powerful Steam Shovel, for instance.  Wheelbarrows also don't waste any energy.

Energy saving Powerful Steam Shovel

8. Close curtains at night to prevent light from leaking out.  Remember that if you jest put in littler light bulbs, less light will leak out, but some dark will continue to leak in from outside.

Picture of me printing my special sticky notes on my Kelsey Printing Press

My little printing press doesn't use any power, either, and I can set Jim's lead type to print things without any power!

Remember, by doing your share to conserve energy, you will assure that there is enough power so that those reel big office buildings will continue to be able to leave their lights on at night and keep their water fountain that squirts water up in the air running all year long. --Sparky

A Good Place to be During a Blackout

We heard about this old geezer who owns an old gas station somewhere in Southwestern Colorado, and he doesn't have no phone or lecktrick-city, likrish power except for the little bit he generates using a dog-powered generator so he can watch old Gilligan's Island reruns on his little black and white TV.

Dog running on a treadmill to make power for TV
His gas pump is one of those old ones that uses a hand pump to put gas into the glass tank at the top, then it comes out of the nozzle by gravity.
Drawing of old gas pump
His cash register is hand cranked, so if the power goes out in the rest of the world, he doesn't even know about it unless they interrupt Gilligan's Island to let him know.

And, he has a windmill that pumps water from his well, that also has a manual water pump, just in case the windmill breaks down.

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