Mining operations are always exciting! During a trip to Colorado I was cruising through a mountain pass near Galena Mountain near Silverton, Colorado. I took a drive down the main street through the town of Silverton following the Animas river and just wanted to see where it went. It was just after a rainstorm and I wanted to get off of the paved road and get my truck a little muddy. It worked.
Along the way I noticed a lot of machinery in the mountains. It looked like mining equipment. I kept driving and behold I pulled up to the Old Hundred Gold mine.
I knew nothing about it and wanted to go check it out. I happened to arrive right as they were about to give a tour and the tour guide hollered out to the parking lot “hey! you wanna go into the mine on a tour?” I locked my doors to my truck and ran to the front doors, he said throw on a helmet and a coat and jump in the train. I did and said, “don’t I need to pay?” He said just pay it afterwards! It was the last tour of the day and it seemed like I lucked out. The little yellow miner’s train took us about 1/3 of a mile into Galena Mountain. It was dark as night very quickly and the small train was so loud echoing off the walls, you couldn’t hear the people around you talking to each other. After a bit of a bumpy ride the tunnel started to light up from old light bulbs hanging from wires, mounted on hooks hanging from the ceiling. The train car screeched to a stop and we all got out.
The air was damp and dank, and there was an eerie sound of water running through a trough in the distance and dripping out of the walls. The tour led through probably a mile worth of mining tunnels where they mined for gold years ago among other things.
The tour guide showed us a lot of things, minerals and crystals still showing in the walls, and different quartz veins which indicated that there should be gold near by. He showed us the “toilet” which was just a wooden box with a hole in the top. What I was most intrigued with were the old mining tools. No they were not hammers and pick axes. I mean, those were there, but the coolest thing to me were the air powered drills, and different machines used to move tons of rock and get it out of the mountain was once it was broken away from the forward moving tunnels. The tour guide had extensive knowledge of the tools and although I cant remember much about the tools, I remembered the air powered ones the most. He turned the lights down low and fired one of the drills up to demonstrate what it was like when people were working the mine. The drill was so loud, and had so much force that it shook the walls, and rattled my chest, and left a ringing in my ears.
Through the rest of the tour he shared the history of the gold mining within the Old Hundred mine and how it got its name. They said it was probably named after an old German hymn “Old Hundreth,” which was likely due to the fact that the original miners came from Germany.
I saw alot of different gear, lanterns, and clothing that the miners used to wear. It kind of made me wish I was born in that time so that I could be a part of the excitement with mining gold. It seemed like back breaking work though, so its probably better that I was born in this time frame.
Its not the first mine that I have explored, and it sure wont be the last! I challenge you to go find some mines in Colorado or where ever you may live. History always seems to have an interesting story!
“To be successful in life, sometimes you need to go through the mud to get to the gold.” – Ed Sykes