hile re s e a rching theG e o rgetown mining district of Colorado, I recently discovere di n f o rmation about the Red,White, and Blue Mining Company, an entre p re-neurial enterprise made up of a group of ex-slavesf rom the Missouri lead regions. They had org a n i z e dtheir own company, opened mines, and operatedone of the first smelters in Colorado. A member of this mining company, metallurgist Lore n z oBowman, became a locally recognized expertb e f o re his death in 1870. Archeological evidence of his operations on the headwaters of South ClearC reek is an important reminder of the AfricanAmericans who participated in the Pikes Peak ru s h .
When cultural re s o u rce management studiesa re conducted, we often forget that the story of min-ing is the story of people. Mining history is morethan the physical presence of mines or mills. It isabout new arrivals in a region, the creation of newtowns, and the characteristic mining culture of boomand bust. It is about the mix of industrial workers of a region, the great cultural diversity, and the re s u l t-ing social and political fabric. And, it is about thetale of innovators and entre p reneurs, opport u n i t i e sand disappointments.In this, the centennial celebratory year of theKlondike Gold Rush and the 150th year after theC a l i f o rnia gold discovery, we continue to study andre - i n t e r p ret mining history and places. New parks,such as Vi rginia City State Park in Montana, pro-vide further opportunities to explore additionalthemes; in this case, Chinese sojourners and thesociety that evolved in the isolated nort h e rn RockyMountains. Interpretation of mining sites, like manyother historic places, has been influenced by the“New History,” which looks at the broader story of our diverse culture. In my corner of the West, thep rehistoric and Spanish-era turquoise mines nearC e rrillos, New Mexico, are just as important as them o re celebrated gold rush sites elsewhere .H o w e v e r, the conservation, pre s e rvation, andmanagement of mining sites are particularly pro b-lematic. In general, mining sites lasted only as longas profitable ore or coal was extracted; then theyd i s a p p e a red. Integrity of the re s o u rce will alwayscomplicate the search for historic mining sites. Overthe past decade, the National Park Service haso ff e red guidance for the surv e y, evaluation, and sub-sequent nomination of historic mining sites to theNational Register of Historic Places. An incre a s e da w a reness, partially because of the loss of mining-related pro p e rties in the West, has also facilitatedthe recognition of mines and mining-related sites forNational Register designation and/or the initiationof serious pre s e rvation eff o rts.R a re is the extant industrial plant or mill thatonce processed ores, either east or west.P re s e rvation eff o rts have often been piecemeal—with some notable successes, such as the pre s e rv a-tion of the Mayflower Mill near Silverton, Colorado.P re s e rvation through documentation studies is toof requently the relied-upon method for re c o rding atleast some level of information about a historic min-ing site before the re s o u rce is lost. The HistoricAmerican Engineering Record has provided techni-cal guidance and direction as well as conducted spe-cific projects to re c o rd the mills and engineeringworks at idle mining sites.Mitigation eff o rts for federal clean-up pro j e c t sor new federally-permitted mining operations haveresulted in many studies, especially archeological, of f o rmer mining camps and mine sites. As part of themitigation for the loss of physical evidence of his-toric pro p e rties, mining companies or agencies havefunded the archeological study or historical re c o rd a-tion of mining regions. Occasionally, the need top rovide habitat for rare species, such as bats, hasfacilitated the pre s e rvation of mine works. This for-tuitous overlap of natural re s o u rce managementmandates with an identified cultural re s o u rce bene-fits both.Nearly 10 years ago, the National Park Serv i c ec o - s p o n s o red a week-long conference at DeathValley National Park on the pre s e rvation of historicmining sites in response to a need for guidance onissues and policies, management and interpre t a t i o n ,National Register and inventory projects, and miti-gation approaches for new mining operations ore n v i ronmental clean-ups within historic areas.To d a y, many of the issues raised at the confer-ence have been addressed. However, mining historynow needs new direction. There is a need for newpoints of view and historical methodologies. In par-t i c u l a r, there exists a continued need for innovativeguidance on pre s e rving and protecting these fragileremains; a need for additional awareness about min-ers, prospectors, and countless other mining-re l a t e dindividuals; and a better understanding of the diver-sity of mining-related technologies and surv i v i n ghistoric re s o u rces within the national story. Wehope this edition of
begins this new dialogue.
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Robert L. Spude is Chief, Cultural Resources and National Register Program Services, NPS Intermountain Support Office, Santa Fe. He served asco-guest editor of this issue of
R o b e rt L.Sp u d e
A New Dialog u e