Featured in Gold Prospectors September/October 2011 Issue
8/4/2011 10:22 AM
Idaho’s Silver Valley
By Denise Seith
“If it’s not grown, it’s got to be mined,” Lenny the mine guide stated matter-of-factly as he led our hard hat-wearing group into the dim, damp underground Sierra Silver Mine outside of Wallace, Idaho.
“If you really think about it, you’ll realize how true that is,” he continued, proudly. “The manufacture of everyday products requires silver, gold, copper, lead, zinc and other minerals.”
Nicknamed “Smurf” by his co-workers because of his short stature, the retired hard-rock-miner-turned-tour-guide entertained and educated us for about an hour as we toured the fascinating mine and learned its history. Through comical, yet true, stories of his career as a miner, we were surprised to discover that the tools of the trade haven’t changed much over the last 100 years.
Long pneumatic drills are still used to bore holes into rock and the holes are then filled with explosives. Although the noise from the drill was deafening, it lasted for just a few seconds. The demonstration helped us to better understand the working conditions of hard rock miners. After Lenny’s fun and informative tour, our group reboarded the vintage trolley that had brought us out to the mine and we listened to the driver as he pointed out local landmarks during the short and scenic ride back into downtown Wallace.
Read more in the September/October Issue of Gold Prospectors Magazine.
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