Colorado was amazing! The scenery on the drive kept me fascinated. There is nothing like it in Michigan. It is hard to believe that people live in the mountains and that they are home to such wildlife. Coming from Michigan, I never really considered how big they are.
In Colorado, I had many cool opportunities. I was in the highest casino on earth – the Wildwood Casino in Cripple Creek. I was only there to use the restroom, but I can at least say I was there LOL. We stayed in Cripple Creek over night so we could get the first tour of the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine. http://www.goldminetours.com/
It was a once in a lifetime experience!! We got into a “9 man skip” to descend into the mine. I can say that the “9 men” had to be very small – more like 9 young boys because six of us barely fit. We descended 100 vertical stories into the earth. It was COLD and DARK and a little bit frightening. Once we arrived though, it was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had. You get to actually see how mining happened during the gold rush. Our guide knew everything about – not just the tools but how people lived and were replaced. I know for sure that I would not want to be holding the bar with someone swinging a hammer at the back of my head!
Mollie Kathleen was the first woman to own a gold mine. At the time, women weren’t allowed to. Her husband was a lawyer and he said she had every right to and so she did! She found to get it registered and it was her very own.
In the mine, we were able to ride on an underground air tram. It is kind of like a small train that moved supplies and ore to places in the mine. When it reached one end, you just unload and send it back. No driver needed! We were able to see a lot of the equipment and how it evolved over time. I understand why they lost their hearing (EVERYTHING is loud) and died young (not only the dust but the hammer swinging!!)
We were able to see actual gold veins as well. When we asked why they didn’t mine it, they explained that it is more expensive to get it our and process it than it is worth often times an that mine owners are very superstitious. Once a mine closes, they think it brings bad luck to open it again. There was a HUGE mine next door that was active. It looked like an entire city. We did get to take a piece of gold ore home. I don’t think it is worth much but I will always have the memory.
From the Mollie Kathleen, we went to the Western Museum of Mining and Industry. It had a lot of older equipment that we were able to see operate. We were taken on a tour to learn about not only the equipment but the life of the miners and how the surrounding towns were formed because of the mine. The final activity was to plan for gold. I did not find gold, but I did find a lot of cool stones that I saved for later. https://www.wmmi.org/
After all of this background research, I met with Ms. Meredith to complete my Mining in Society Merit Badge. I am really glad I didn’t take the badge at a merit badge university. The experience was so much more than just the badge.