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Leadville: A Miner's Epic by Stephen M.…
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Leadville: A Miner's Epic (edition 2002)

by Stephen M. Voynick (Author)

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Leadville is a first-rate frontier epic, with romance and excitement enough for ten cities. The real story of Leadville is beyond the portals -- it is of the men who worked the mines, of thundering rock drills and dynamite fumes, of metals torn from the
Member:amiegreene
Title:Leadville: A Miner's Epic
Authors:Stephen M. Voynick (Author)
Info:Mountain Pr (2002), Edition: First Edition, 175 pages
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Leadville, a Miner's Epic by Stephen M. Voynick

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Author Stepen Voynick is a hardrock miner with experience in Wyoming, Arizona, and at the Climax molybdenum mine in Colorado. His book on the history of Leadville, Colorado, focuses on mining and miners – first gold, then silver, and finally molybdenum. Voynick has a love/hate relationship with mining and with Leadville, acknowledging that mining in the gold and silver era was hard, dangerous, and underpaid, and complaining that popular histories focus on the supposed glamour of the mining era – saloons with gamblers and gunfights, brothels with ladies of negotiable virtue, and opulent opera houses financed by the mining barons – but have little or nothing on the lives and works of the miners. He worries that with the end of mining – the book was published in 1984 – Leadville will become just another Western tourist trap, like Tombstone, Deadwood, or Central City.

Voynick acknowledges that modern mining is almost unrecognizably different from the early days. It’s much safer – the Climax mine where he worked not only had a better safety record than other mines, it had a better safety record than general heavy industry. Some of that was due to government regulation, but technological improvements were more important: electric fans for ventilation; water injection rock drills replacing the old “widowmakers”; hard hats, safety glasses, self-rescuers and other personal protective equipment. At Climax a major factor was the conversion of the mine from underground to open pit; in its heyday as an underground mine, Climax employed over 2000 miners and mill hands; as an open pit mine it employed 22 – to produce more molybdenum than the rest of the world combined. The employees were more heavy equipment operators than what the general public would think of as miners. Voynick also laments the end of the independent miner and of small mining companies; safety rules, environmental regulations, and economies of scale mean only heavily capitalized ventures. For example, in the early days there were ore bodies in Leadville that were 86% silver – something a lone man with pick, shovel, and sluice box could turn into a fortune. Ore from the Climax mine was 0.165% molybdenum – only economical because there was so much of it.

This isn’t a “scholarly” work – there are no footnotes and the illustrations are generic pictures of Leadville and mining culled from the Colorado Historical Society and similar sources. However, it’s “authentic”; Voynick has lived what he’s writing about. For more reviews of mining books, see Drills and Mills, Blown to Bits in the Mine, and Mine Wastes. ( )
3 vote setnahkt | Sep 16, 2020 |
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Leadville is a first-rate frontier epic, with romance and excitement enough for ten cities. The real story of Leadville is beyond the portals -- it is of the men who worked the mines, of thundering rock drills and dynamite fumes, of metals torn from the

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