Archive for the tag 'mining'

The Autobiography of Theodore Edgar Potter: a review

Potter was a competent writer and a gifted story-teller. His memoir is largely concerned with the years from 1852 to 1865, during which the author joined the California gold rush, took part (after a fashion) in William Walker’s Nicaraguan filibuster, visited New York, New Orleans, and Saint Louis, and took up residence in southern Minnesota. He was a captain in the militia which defended New Ulm during the Dakota War of 1862; later he was a Union officer whose troops participated at the fringe of the Battle of Nashville–mostly they chased, and sometimes caught, partisan guerillas. Some years later he was involved in the apprehension of the Younger brothers gang, again in southern Minnesota.

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Appalachian Passage by Helen Hiscoe: a review

The Hiscoe family’s relationship with the local Mine Workers leadership was odd. In most cases the personal relationships were quite friendly, but it’s pretty clear that some of these friends were working against the Doc behind the scenes. The hows and whys are never satisfactorily uncovered, and in the end the family decides it’s better to leave than to sort out the problems. It would be interesting to see a similar account of the year from a mining family’s perspective, as it’s clear that the author wasn’t privy to some of the discussions.

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The Copper Mines of Lake Superior by T. A. Rickard: a review

Rickard examined the mining practices of most of the major mines on the range, with the significant exceptions of the Calumet and Tamarack mines, where non-employee mining engineers were not welcome. For the mines he did examine, he highlighted what they did best, the roots of their technical preferences, and any glaring weaknesses he identified in their processes. He then did the same for the associated mills (including, interestingly, the C&H mill on Torch Lake). There’s a wealth of technical detail, and enough economic detail that one could estimate the entire cost of production for many of the mines.

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The Copper Empire, volume 1, by Mike Forgrave: a review

Roughly fifty maps of towns and mining locations on the Keweenaw peninsula, with only a minimal amount of text. These are sort of idealized maps, actually, showing each town/mine’s main features but not tied to specific dates. So (according to the author/mapmaker) some of the maps include structures which not only are no longer there but which never coexisted on the specific site. The result is that each map locates both current (2009) buildings and construction which was dismantled 70 years ago.

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When Miners March by William Blizzard: a review

Odd and interesting. This is an account of events in West Virginia’s coal fields during 1921 and 1922, especially the march to Blair Mountain in ’22–with two decades’ context. It was written roughly 30 years after the events it describes, and the author’s father was one of the principal characters in the confrontation.

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Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railway by John Leopard: a short review

Excellent picture book, with a fine narrative history of the Missabe Road, its predecessors, and their clients. I know this material fairly well, but Leopard managed to occasionally surprise me.

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Tombstone by Odie Faulk: a review

One chapter is devoted to the gunfight, its context, and its aftermath. Faulk basically wishes a plague on all the participants; all are, in his view, pretty bad characters and it’s best that they mostly abandoned the town after the shootout. Some of his facts differ from the currently accepted narrative–likely because four subsequent decades of research have clarified some specifics–but on the whole his portrayal of the event rings true.

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Ironwood, Hurley, and the Gogebic Range by Matthew Liesch: a review

This book is “based on” Liesch’s Masters Thesis at UW-Madison, so (as you’d expect) he knows his material. Occasionally the thesis peeks through, but in the main the book is a well-selected set of photographs documenting the boom and bust life of the mining district.

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The Iron Ores of Lake Superior (1923) by Crowell and Murray: a short review

Absolutely essential if you’re studying iron ore shipping on the great lakes, or iron mining along the shores of Lake Superior. This book contains a surprising, and wonderful, amount of information about individual mines, and about the companies which ran those mines.

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Dwgs and Spec of Mining Equipment: Hibbing District: a short review

Drawings of old mining–mostly railroad, actually–equipment. Really quite a wonderful thing. Seems to contain everything blue-print like they had around the office when it was compiled; a few of the pages really don’t fit.

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