05 October 2007

Cripple Creek Mining & the Molly Kathleen Mine Tour

1000 feet underground ... My body shook, my vision blurred, 5 deep, strong, hearty blasts were felt ... more than heard. What was happening? I really wanted it to be done. OK, please stop now .. When it was over - 30 seconds later, Chuck said that was NOT part of the tour. I understand why. I'm sure many would soil their trousers. In any case, mining goes on and it was closer than expected this day.

A rainy day at the Shelf Road climbing area chased us upstairs to the town of Cripple Creek (satellite view, Wikipedia)- the famous gold mining town. I've always wanted to do the Molly Kathleen mine tour and now was the time.

Chuck was a great tour guide. He still has his fingers in mining and told some great stories, like the time his light went out. He was in a crosscut between the Molly Kathleen and an adjacent mine. He crawled for 2-1/2 hours before he found light again.

The Molly Kathleen is still being mined. I had no idea. Lot's of gold still but the processing is more expensive than it used to be. Unless grandfathered in, a mine can no longer use cyanide to process their ore. Mines have to ship the ore to Canada to process. This really kills the profit of course. The mines ship the ore to Canada during the winter, when the train shipping costs are down.

Chuck was a great guide. Our group of 9 entered 2 "cars" over the shaft. Chuck said - You see the town down there? We are going 400 ft below that. This was a really good visual of our destination depth. He demonstrated operation of much of the equipment when he could and explained the rest. Julia had a great time. We'll be back again. More for me than for Julia. I've always hankered to do more than just gold pan mining.

More pics here

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