Chuck Mack: Stumbling upon Mount Streeter Mine
Beginnings of schemes and dreams of Mount Streeter Mine - Part three
Information from July 9, 1919, article in the Steamboat Pilot; compiled by Chuck Mack, Nov. 13, 2007.
Golly, old newspaper articles are a wealth of information. I'm certainly glad I've found lots of early information on the Mount Streeter coalmine; and Mount Streeter townsite.
I guess I'm especially interested in these holdings because in the fall of 195I, I went to work at the Red Wing Mine, which actually was in the same location as the early Mount Streeter Mine. As I was to find out, these mines were actually connected by at least one tunnel.
It wasn't long after I got my job at Red Wing, that I became fire boss. The duty of the fire boss is to thoroughly examine the complete mine before each day's work is started, so my working day usually started about four hours before the rest of the shift. I would examine the mine and then use the underground phone line to call to the surface and give the all clear, or plan my examination route so I could come back out to the surface to give the all clear signal so the rest of the shift could enter the mine at the regular starting time.
One day when I went to work I noticed a big hole had developed in the ground not very far from the portal to the mine. On my examination of the mine I could find nothing out of the ordinary. So the crew was allowed to go to work and the state mine inspector was notified of the hole.
When the mine inspector got there it was decided that I would be lowered down into the hole by means of a rope. My examinations revealed that I was examining a tunnel of the old Mount Streeter mine, which had caved to the surface. That tunnel at one time connected with the Red Wing mine, but it had been sealed off with a concrete stopping.
That hole I was lowered down into was actually the old underground stable; and after all those years you could still see evidence that it had been used as such. The only thing I didn't find was a horse or mule!
I certainly do have many fond memories of the Red Wing mine. When I went to work there, the mine was still operating with old outdated machinery. The mine started updating to more modern machinery about the time I went to work - so I always felt like the mine and I grew up together. I worked there until 1974, when the mine ceased underground production.
At that time, the mine was sold to the W. R. Grace Co. and they soon began a strip mine in the location. That strip mine is still in operation today, but under different company ownership.
However, today there is no indication whatsoever that there ever was an underground mine and a coal camp. The mine and camp were in the mouth of a canyon, not far from the highway, a couple of miles or so on down the highway from the present-day ColoWyo turn off and guard shack.
When they started stripping the overburden off of the coal, they completely filled the whole canyon with the overburden. (If you keep a close eye to the hillside on the right-hand side of the highway going toward Meeker, you will come to a place where the hillside seems to be terraced in stair steps; that is the location where the canyon was filled in with the overburden).
Not far on south from the guard shack you see an old frame building; that is the old Axial Basin schoolhouse. Just a little ways south from that, I think, are still the remains of a log building; that is the site of the old Axial Basin townsite.
The old ColoWyo Red-Wing mine and coal camp; which incidentally we lived in when I went to work there, is now nothing more than history!
Series continues next week:
I feel definitely lucky that I have been able to uncover a lot of history on Mount Streeter, so with this in mind we will get on with the articles from the in future editions of this story.