Cowboys, Loggers, & Chickens.

by kfrego

My partner Denny and I were disappointed when we learned the Cedar Mt Mine wasn’t feasible to put into production. The small vein of high grade silver was contaminated by arsenic. It would take a specialized mill to process the ore. The cost of the mill far outweighed the revenue of the silver vein. The cost of exploration was a good write off for the logger/owner of the claim. Denny and I couldn’t complain as we were well compensated for having so much fun.

Denny had some small jobs to keep us going a few weeks. We went to Lolo, MT and established a portal for a small prospect gold tunnel. The owners were anxious to start mining so we started the job while they waited on equipment delivery. We ate lunch and dinner at the Lolo Saloon nearby. Their primary business was as a bar for the seasonal cowboys, miners, and loggers who worked the higher elevations in the summer. The large log building had three or four horizontal logs for each exterior wall. All of the interior was natural wood. The furniture was all whittled by chain saw on site using local area logs. It was a very unique and beautiful structure. When we started work at Lolo the first word of advice received was to stay clear of the inn after eight in the evening. The loggers, cowboys, and miners had a big brawl of some kind every night.

We returned from Lolo and reopened a depression era abandoned gold mine in Pinehurst, ID. The owners of the mine blasted and collapsed the portal when they left to deter people from entering the workings. After doing some test excavations and sampling we decided to establish a new portal 100 feet from the original site. We would intersect the existing 6 foot wide by 8 foot high tunnel well behind the caved in area. The work was pretty straight forward except for the fact we had several residences in very close proximity of our work. The nearest home had twenty to thirty chickens. Before blasting I would help the lady of the house gather them all up inside the hen house. Chasing chickens was a lot worse work than mining. I would knock on everybody’s door fifteen minutes before blasting to warn them. I always worried about somebody walking out of a house or driving up in a car. The whole scenario was like Beverly Hillbillies. We opened the mine and timbered out the portal. We took cut samples of ore in several areas to complete our contract.

Just as the work in Pinehurst was winding down we had a visit from Charlie Hansen from our hometown of Lyon Mt NY. Charlie was a blast to party with in high school. He had been to the west coast visiting and seeing the sights. He contacted our families to locate us. It was a great visit. We didn’t see many people from Lyon MT. Charlie thought the gold mine was pretty neat. Linda filled him up with pancakes the next morning.

So it goes contract mining……one day a fancy lunch at the bar and next day no lunch because you’re chasing chickens.