Sunday, January 8, 2017

Range Weaning Out to Black Pine

Not being a local girl to southern Idaho, its been pretty fun for me to hear and learn little bits of the history, especially the fun tidbits that relate directly to the family, the ranch, or the land we run on.  And since the family has been around for more than 100 years and we run on like 50,000 acres (ok… I don’t really know how much land it is, I just made that up… but its a LOT) of public ground, there is a lot of history there.  History ranging from the construction of the transcontinental railroad to the wagon ruts from the Oregon Trail to the local Indian tribes that lived in the valley.
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We summer our cows in the Black Pine and Juniper mountains and just above our ground at the van Colman is the old Black Pine gold mine.  When I first heard an out the mine, I pictured an 1849 old prospector panning for gold in the stream, finding his fortune a nugget at a time.  But of course that was wrong because there aren’t ANY streams crossing through Black Pine and I don’t think the mine was open in 1800s.  The mine was open more recently, like 1990s recently.  Crazy, huh?

How cool that only 20 years ago guys were saying that they were gold miners! That sounds more like somebody’s alternate life not a reality in this life… super cool- not that I wouldn’t want to do it, but super cool for someone else to do.  The idea of going underground in a dark creepy mineshaft just does not appeal to me! Maybe that’s still picturing the old prospector kind of mining and not the modern machinery mining…

Back in the day, when The Rancher was just a little buckaroo, they used to take school trips out to the mine and check out the operation in progress. Being the kid he was, he was totally in awe with the equipment- loaders so big the entire school could fit in the bucket! (remember, we have a small school out here so its only like 30 kids instead of 300…).  As they would tour around they would get to see them blasting the hillside.  It was actually more of hearing it than seeing it as it was pretty far away, but still super cool for any little boys that enjoys demolition!  And then to top it all off, they could see the final product of it all- gold bars.    

Unfortunately, the mine is shut down now, not so much from a lack of gold but more to the financial troubles the company had…  So all that’s left there now is a few old shafts and remnants of the old mining carts and tracks, just memories of the old operation. I always wonder how much more gold is down there, especially with new technology and innovations.  Maybe if I wasn’t a busy rancher’s wife I could be a gold miner.  With the way cattle prices have gone recently, maybe a little diversification wouldn’t be a bad idea!

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