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From pans to stamp mill, all the tools of Colorado mining.

From pans to stamp mill, all the tools of Colorado mining

Hard-rock mining was Colorado's premier industry from early in its statehood until recently, when hard times hit. At the Western Museum of Mining and Industry on Colorado Springs, a new main building has expanded an already comprehensive collection of tools of the trade.

From small, crude hand implements to large sophisticated machinery, these tools were used to extract primarily gold and silver, along with iron, lead, zinc, and other minerals. One of the most impressive machines--an enormous Corliss steam engine with a 17-ton flywheel--dominates the new facility. A similar one once powered a mill operating 300 stamps--weights used to crush rock so that valuable elements could be extracted. Most exhibits are in working condition, and tour guides are happy to set them in motion. In a reconstruction of a hard-rock mine, they fire up noisy hammer drills to punch holes in granite boulders (the noise is deafening). You'll also see primitive water pumps and ventilators used at the turn of the century to imrove the wet, dusty, and dangerous working conditions found in most deep hard-rock mines.

Youngsters might enjoy trying gold panning in a long trough (lightly salted with "color" to ensure results). Periodic demonstrations in the assay office show how ores were tested to determine gold or silver content.

Next to the main building, you can walk through a weathered 10-stamp mill; ask for a guide to accompany you.

An archive for scholars as well as an impressive display of early mining technology, the museum has more than 2,500 artifacts. Its library of nearly 7,000 mining and metallurgy books is open to members and students by appointment.

To reach the museum from Interstate Highway 25 north of downtown, take the 156A/North Gate exit and head east on North Gate Road. The museum is open 9 to 4 daily. Admission is $1.50, 50 cents for ages 6 to 16.
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Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Western Museum of Mining and Industry in Colorado Springs
Publication:Sunset
Date:Nov 1, 1986
Words:325
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