Miners' Days competition in Nederland

Celebrating history with mining skills competition

September 2015

One hundred forty years ago silver was discovered west of today’s Nederland in the Caribou District. By 1872, Nederland (then named Middle Boulder) was home to the largest silver processing mill in the area. Gold followed in 1899 with deposits found around the town of Eldora. From 1900 until 1918 Nederland was by far the United States leading producer of tungsten which is used mainly in the hardening of steel. Local miner, Tom Hendricks, still mines gold and silver at the nearby Cross Mine in an environmentally responsible manner. Nederland has survived many booms and busts throughout the years. Last Saturday and Sunday the city celebrated some of those times in the way of Miners’ Days.

In honor of Nederland’s heritage, Miners’ Days is an exciting two day event comprised of competitions testing professional and amateur miners’ practical mining skills. The contests (complete with prize money) included: Spike Driving, Hand Mucking, Jack Leg Drilling, Single Jack Drilling (hand drilling), Team Jack Leg Drilling, and Bow Sawing.

In the Jack Leg events, competitors had to bore two lengthy holes into solid granite using a hydraulic drill. Lifting the tool into place looked difficult enough before the men began jarringly drilling deeper into their target. Along with the heavy machinery came high decibels and I noticed that not a single “Jack Legger” went without earplugs.

A quieter event, but in my opinion just as strenuous, was the Hand Mucking. With a flat-nosed shovel, contestants scooped ore into a cart as quickly as possible without bursting their hearts! When filled to the prescribed level they pushed the ore cart a short distance for the best time.

Truly a test of strength and endurance, the Single Jack (short-handled hammer) entrants drove hand steel as far into the rock as they could during the allotted time. By rotating the steel bit an eighth of an inch (shaking the steel) after each hammer blow, they prevented the steel from jamming.

 

~ By Dave Gibson

For more photos go to: www.davegibsonimages.com

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