Highlights from the

Carbonate Chronicle

75 Years Ago

There’s Still Lots Of

Moly At Climax

June 17, 1946


A survey of the Climax Molybdenum mine, as of Dec. 31, 1945, showed 260 million tons of proven and probable ore reserves containing 800,000 tons of recoverable molybdenum. A survey ten years ago showed 145 million tons containing 525,000 tons of recoverable molybdenum, according to The Mining Record.

Though the capacity of the mine was regarded as 12,500 tons a day, during the war years production was pushed up to 20,000 tons a day in order to meet the huge demands of industry, a Rocky Mountain News article stated recently. When production was threatened by an acute shortage of labor, the company appealed to the government and 360 soldiers were placed on furlough to work in the mine.

Today, though production has fallen sharply, the company is still confronted with a labor problem. There are sufficient employees to work the mine, but an acute shortage of men to do development and repair work exists.

Current production of the mine is averaging about 6,000 tons a day, which is below the pre-war level. Strikes in other industries and slowness of the reconversion program are primary causes for the decrease in business.

Drainage Tunnel

Tagged “Failure,


June 24, 1946


One of the biggest disappointments in the mining history of Colorado, says the Denver Mining Record, is the recent rank failure made in the attempt to drive the Leadville drainage tunnel. The federal government appropriated $1,400,000 for the driving of the tunnel. At the time the amount was appropriated it was regarded as ample funds to complete the job. Steirs Bros., of St. Louis, was awarded the contract, and the tunnel was driven under the supervision of John Austin, who drove the Cripple Creek tunnel.

The Steirs group was well advised by old-timers in Leadville of treacherous ground in the formation and the great possibility of caves and runs. They were advised to drive a “pilot tunnel,” which would have dried out the face for the main tunnel, but it appears no heed was taken of such well informed advice. The main tunnel was kept right on ahead with a constant battle to hold the ground. At times the entire face of the drift was pouring out water, and it had to be boarded to hold it from coming in on the working crew. Men quit by scores, sensing the risk to life prevalent under such conditions.

Finally the inevitable happened — a big cave-in and months of delay. A bypass around the cave was started and just finished when another cave-in swamped the bypass.

Senator Ed Johnson, who was instrumental in getting the money, termed the work at the tunnel a “comedy of errors.” The appropriated money had been put to bad use by bad judgment and bad management.

Troops From Carson

May Get Training At

Cooper Hill Tow


Troops from Camp Carson — around 4,000 of them — may bivouac next winter at Cooper Hill and will learn skiing or improve their technique on the 6,138-foot tow. Agreement has been reached between the Lake County Public Recreation Board (LCPRB), which leases the tow from the Forest Service, and the military at Camp Carson. A contract is being prepared and is expected to be signed soon. Negotiations have been going on for several weeks between the local board, president of which is Gerald McMillin, and Col. David L. Ruffner, commandant of the Mountain & Winter Warfare School and Training Center at Camp Carson.

The Army requested use of the ski tow for the period of Nov. 25, 1946 to March 1, 1947; exclusive use for 69 training days requiring six hours of operation daily. The troops will be using the tow Mondays through Fridays. On weekends and two holidays (Christmas and New Year’s), the lift will be operated for civilian skiers — a total of 28 days.

For operating and maintaining the tow and equipment, the LCPRB is to receive $200 a day, which will mount up to $13,800 for the three-month period. The board is also to provide snow removal in the area.

The Army is arranging for a detail to repair buildings and clean up Cooper Hill area, and it is planned to have this work accomplished by the early part of October.

The agreement has been accepted in principle by both parties.

Rental of the tow will provide the local board with funds for improving and adding to the facilities at Cooper Hill. The board plans to install an electric rope tow coming up the canon to the foot of the big lift. This small tow will enable use of Runs 3 and 4, which were not used last winter. The two runs are considered the most magnificent of the entire course. The additional tow will take the load off the longer one as 20 minutes or more will be required for skiers to negotiate the longer runs.

The LCPRB has been mindful of the public in arrangements for operating the tow next winter. As practically all the skiing done last season was on weekends, it is expected that the civilian skiers will be able to use the tow as fully as last year. In addition, the Continental Ski Club is willing, if there is sufficient demand, to operate the tow at Climax daily.

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