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Watching Colorado's hard rockers at play, late June into August.

Mining operations throughout the West are facing hard times, but that hasn't deterred Colorado's miners from their summer drilling contests. Events are free to spectators and are usually held in picturesque mountain towns June through August. It's wise to call ahead to confirm sometimes flexible dates.

You'll see three main events: single jackleg drilling, hand mucking, and hand steeling or jacking. Jackleg drilling is a fast, noisy event in which a contestant must pick up a 130-pound drill, attach a 4-foot bit, then drill horizontally into rock. The miner must sink a 4-foot hole into two 4-inch squares in less than 2 minutes in order to win.

In hand mucking, competitors shovel a ton of rock or sand into an ore car, push it 15 feet on a narrow-gauge track, and dump it. Last year's best time was 32 seconds.

For the hand-steeling event, the miner must drill into granite by hand, using a 4-pound sledge hammer and hand-turned drill bit. Depth at the end of 5 minutes determines the winner (7 inches is good).

Here are the contests and telephone numbers to check dates. All area code 303.

June 29 and 30: Cripple Creek, Donkey Derby Days with burro races; 689-2307. July 20 and 21: Idaho Springs, Gold Rush Days at the Argo Gold Mine; 567-4382 (in service after June 1). July 27 and 28:
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Title Annotation:Colorado's miners drilling contest
Date:Jun 1, 1985
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