Hardrock Man: Whispers from Underground

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Hardrock Man: Whispers from Underground
Series Title:
Hardrock Man: Whispers from Underground
MacKell, Jan
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
Publication Date:

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Auraria Library
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Auraria Library
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Hardrock Man: Whispers from Underground | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 9:47:32 AM] Home Hardrock Man: Whispers from UndergroundHardrock Man: Whispers from UndergroundSubmitted by nwharton on 7-17-2012 10:37 AMAuthor: Sylece Andromeda Publishing: Lake City, CO: Western Reflections Publishing Company, 2012. Reviewer: Jan MacKell Colorados annals of mining history in general offer an array of information, from historical notes to technical tidbits. This book differs in that it gives firsthand accounts from the miners themselves, in their own words. Few volumes of this type exist (only David Lavenders One Mans West comes to mind), making Sylece Andromedas undertaking an important facet to truly knowing what it was like to work underground. Twenty miners, born roughly between 1903 and 1957, were interviewed for this book. While some such as Tom Ronan (19031981) died well before Andromeda embarked on this project, earlier recorded oral histories were combined with more recent interviews to give a good understanding of the hardrock miner. Many of the same questions were posed to each man, but each answer differs slightly to give a well-rounded view of how miners felt about their jobs, their lives, each other, and the mines they worked for. While Andromeda tends to wax poetic in her approach to her subject, the hard facts are given straight from the mouths of men who toiled in Cripple Creek District mines. Here, the reader gets a no-nonsense history regarding daily routines, details of the job, perils of the workplace, and the camaraderie amongst men who worked long days for little pay. The language is rough and even gritty at times as the miners explain what it was like to be lowered thousands of feet underground daily into a maze of tunnels, shafts, and stopes. Their words are presented exactly as they were said, leaving little room for doubts about accuracy or truth. These guys tell it like it was, through their own eyes, and the result is an unusually intimate look at how they felt about their place as miners in Colorado from the post-Depression years right up to the 1970s. The one common denominator of each interview involves the dangers of working deep below the surface of the earth, surrounded on all sides by tons of unforgiving rock. The book is rife with stories of accidents and death, and these serve well to remind the reader of a life from another time, before safety laws and better work standards came into play. Plenty of recognition is given to Archie Campbell Doc Denman, the district physician (and formerly a miner himself) who for decades sewed up gashes, set broken bones, treated burns, and saved many a man whose fingers, or foot, or arm, were thought to be a lost cause. Doc bolstered his patients into believing in themselves and what they were: tough, resilient, even ornery sorts who were proud to work hard at a job that put food on their tables. EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanCasimiro Barela, state senator for over 37 years, fought to ensure Colorados first constitution was published in English, Spanish and German.


Hardrock Man: Whispers from Underground | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 9:47:32 AM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us Perhaps the most revealing sections of this book are comments brought forth by some unusual questions. Did the boys play pranks on one another? Yes, quite often. Did beavers really build dams in the Ajax Mine? Yes. Was it possible to walk underground from Cripple Creek to Victor? Probably. Do tommyknockers really exist? Perhaps. Are there any regrets? Absolutely not. By accident or choice, Andromedas selection of miners appear happy to tell their stories in a tone that strongly implies they had no desire to choose other careers. Their accounts have preserved a part of history as underground gold mining methods gradually give way to more modern above-ground operations. The first edition of this book was self-published through Poverty Gulch Publishing in 2005. With Western Reflections Publishing taking the helm earlier this year comes an expanded edition with even more pages and information. An additional volume by the author, Speakeasy in the Gold Camp is another oral history project that has yet to be approached by Western Reflections. But the passing on of some of Andromedas subjects has placed a sense of urgency on the need to record more stories. We can only hope that the author continues in her quest to glean such history stories before they fade away completely. Reviewer Info: Jan MacKell is an established author with University of New Mexico Press and Arcadia Publishing. She has written three books to date, has co-authored four others, and has written numerous articles about Colorado history with a number of regional publications. As Jan Collins, she also serves as director of the Cripple Creek District Museum in Cripple Creek, Colorado. She gives regular presentations about area history as well as her favorite subject, prostitution in the West. She resides in nearby Victor with her husband, two spoiled cats, and an ornery little dog.