National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum



The federally chartered National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum in Leadville was founded in 1987. It's the premier institution showcasing American Mining, and is nicknamed "the Smithsonian of the Rockies". The museum is located in a Victorian building that was Leadville's original high school. The museum has five levels. Unfortunately, due to time contraints (as usual) I only got to check out the second and third levels which are detailed below. The First Level houses the gift shop, Matchless Mine Exhibit, Map Gallery, and several other exhibits. The Fourth Level is a terrace with great views of Leadville and the surrounding Rocky Mountains. The Fifth Level holds the Hall of Fame galleries, library, and boardroom. You can bet I'll be back. Photos were taken July, 2022.



National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum


National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum


Sculpture on Third Level


Second Level

The Second Level contains the Minerals Exhibits, Molybdenum Car, Lighting Exhibit, World of Molybdenum and Climax Mine Exhibit, and Mine Site Reclamation. I wandered through the Minerals, Lighting, and Molybdenum Exhibits.


Minerals Room

This room contains mineral specimens from around the world. It also houses the molybdenum car.


Minerals of Europe


Minerals of the United States


Minerals of the United States


Minerals of the United States


Amethyst Geode


Quartz Geode

Lighting Exhibit


Candles


Carbide Lamps


Electric Lamps

Molybdenum Exhibit

The Molybdenum Exhibit tells the story of molybdenum, from its discovery through present day. It also tells the story of the Climax Mine, probably the largest molybdenum mine in the world.


Uses for Molybdenum


The story of molybdenum begins


Discovery (1879-1915)


Pushing the Limits (1939-1949)


All-American Town (1950-1960)


Cash Cow (1960s - 1970s)

Boyles Brothers Compressed Air Powered Screw Drive Conventional Core Drill

"Molybdenum Car" - 1923 Wills Saint Claire made with molybdenum alloys


Third Level

The Third Level houses lots of exhibits. I found the Diorama Room and Hard Rock Mine especially interestng. Also spent a lot of time in the Gold Room. In addition to these three there is the Leadville Room, Scale Room, Coal Room, Marble Room, The Magic of Minerals, and Train Foyer. So much to see, so little time.


Diorama Room

The 27 dioramas in this exhibit were donated to the museum by Henry “Hank” C. Gentsch. These scenes tell the story of Central City. Gentsch described Central City as “Colorado’s first and most famous mining camp,” and once, “the richest square mile on earth.”


Jackson Strikes Gold


Gregory's Expedition

John H. Gregory found a gold-bearing vein on May 6, 1859 in an area between present day Black Hawk and Central City. He returned later in May with a group of miners and began mining what turned out to be a "bonanza" in the ravine that became known as Gregory Gulch. His discovery, along with that of William Greene Russel in 1958 and George A, Jackson near Idaho Springs in January of 1859 started the Pikes Peak Gold Rush.


Life at Gregory Gulch


From Mining Camp to Mining Town


Harsh Life

Methods of Placer Mining

A gold pan is a circular pan with angled side used to separate gold from lighter alluvial materials scooped from a stream bed. Separation is accomplished by swirling the sediment, gradually washing ligher material out of the pan.
A whipsaw is a long, straight, stiff blade with a handle at each end. The saw was used to make plancks and rough cut lumber.
Sluices are long, narrow, troughs that carry water from a stream or creek. Gold is trapped by riffles in the bottom of the trough. Nineteenth century wooden sluices were at least 12 feet long.
A rocker box is a wooden box, open on top and one end, with riffles on the bottom, and mounted on rockers. The rocking motion separates the gold from sand , similar to a sluice box.
The long tom is a small sluice that uses less water than a regular sluice.
An arrastra (or arastra) is a simple mill for grinding gold or silver ore. Two or more flat-bottomed stones connected to a center post by a long arm are dragged around a circular pit by a mule or horse connected to the other end of the arm, crushing the ore in the process.


Gold Pan


Whipsaw


Sluice Box


Rocker Box


Long Tom


Arrastra

Hard Rock Mine

This is a replica of a typical Colorado mine. Various aspects of hard rock mining are on display as one walks through the mine. There are several "Miner Mannequins" hard at work during the tour.


Underground Mining Terminology


Blacksmith at Work


Cage Operator


Miner in the Cage


Ore cart rails in a drift


Miner Mannequin working in a Stope


Dynamite - Ready to Blow


Miner Drilling on a Face


End of the Line

Gold Room

The Gold Room is, as you would expect, all about gold. There are exhibits on gold in its various forms, the mining of gold, and its uses. There are also displays tracing the discovery of gold across the United States.


Matchless Mine Model


Gold Medals


Gold Coins


Gold from Hydraulic Mining


5 Gold Nuggets - Placer Gold


65 Crystalline Gold Specimens


Gold in Quartz - Sawed Slab


Native Gold


Native Gold


Eastern Goldfields


North Carolina


South Carolina


Georgia


California and Nevada Goldfields


The Western Rushes


Nevada


Silver's Rise in Leadville


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