BG

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Coal Products Incorporated

This is a very real and mostly true account of a long and terrible ordeal that I endured in the mountains of Kansas. Reader discretion is advised.

Gather around my friends and listen to the story which I am about to tell. I was out hiking the mountains with my wife when a storm came out of nowhere. We found a spot and set up the tent and waited for the storm to pass. Day turned into night and the rain only got worse. We slept and in the morning the skies were cleared up. But the sky was different. Everything was different. I began to wonder if we had been poisoned. Before the thought had taken the form of a verbal proposition, we heard footsteps. Loud footsteps. It sounded as if the whole mountain was being smashed down. Trees creaked and snapped, birds screamed and flew off in large numbers. A large shadowy figure loomed towards us and we had no place to run. I thought we were going to die. The massive beast moved in for the kill and finally I could see it but I didn't believe my eyes.

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It was a brontosaurus. The brontosaurus spoke thusly: "Be ye not afraid my children. I am the guardian of the mountain and protector of the lost. You have gone further than you realize and you must turn back before it's too late. I fear you are in grave danger." I shouted back: "Where are we? What danger are we in?" To which the brontosaurus replied "There is no need to shout. I am speaking to you telepathically. You have entered the realm of the Mysticosaurs. We have been guarding this gateway for an eternity. You have come here without the proper credentials and must obtain the key before the others awaken and come for you." I said "Oh great brontosaurus! How impressive is your appearance and wise your words. Grant me the wisdom to find the key and escape this place!" The brontosaurus replied "My name is Steven the Magnificent. You may call me Steve the Magnificent. To locate the key and travel back to your world is a treacherous task. You must project yourself to the 32nd Chevron. There's no time for questions now you must go! Travel down to the ancient lake and inquire with the snake who lives therein. Do not delay!" I offered him my thanks and my wife and I headed down the mountain to the lake.

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The lake was mystical and dark. Smoke rose from its depths. I called out for the snake. Just then the smoke took the form of a serpent and the serpent spoke to me. "What do you want?" I said "Steven the Magnificent sent me here so that you could help us escape this place. He said we were in grave danger." "Steve is correct. The portal to your world lies beyond the 32nd Chevron." I asked "How do we get there?" The snake replied "You take the first right after the 5th Chevron and follow that all the way until the Eye of Horus, then make 4 left turns and employ the Spirits of Darkness. The Spirits of Darkness will blindfold you in their blue 1972 Dodge bus numbered "23" before transporting you to the 31st Chevron. They'll drop you off in the Desert, where you have to starve to death before the Lizard King revives you with the Grip of the Lion. From there I'll pick you up and you'll ride me 7 miles through the desert. We'll go East in the direction of the Fire on the Mountain and once you get to the Unfinished Pyramid, draw a doorway in the sand next to the Eucalyptus trees. When the moon is full, this doorway will glow green. This is the ethereal gate of the 32nd Chevron. Say "Open Sesame" and click your heels together 3 times. A midget will appear. Cut his head off and drink the blood. The blood will alter your physical body for 24 hours, giving you the ability to travel through the gate. If you stay over 24 hours, your body will dissolve forever. Bury his head on top of the nearest hill and plant an acacia tree over the grave. Cut his body into 7 pieces and scatter them at the various chakras of the earth. To get back, do everything in reverse. Got it?" I replied "Yes. I understand... But wait. How do I get to the 5th Chevron?" "I will bite you", he said. "My venom is a powerful psychotropic. It will prepare you for the journey." My wife was worried but gave her permission. I let the snake bite me. And then we headed off.

Everything went according to plan. I traveled through the gate of the 32nd Chevron and attained the key of enlightenment. It was a black piece of rock resembling coal. I put it in my fanny pack and when I turned around we were ambushed by a Tyrannosaur.

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The snake and the Tyrannosaur fought each other while I tried to stay hidden. Eventually it was clear the Tyrannosaur was winning the fight. Thankfully at this time my wife heard the commotion and came to our rescue. She punched the Tyrannosaur in the face. He cried like a little bitch and he and his triceratops friend ran back into the woods. I held the snake in my hands and as he died he whispered to me "Take this key to the temple of rust on top of the mountain. Place it in the altar and you will be transported back to your world. Now I shall die." I left him there and ran back to my wife. We hiked for days and finally reached the temple.

Upon reaching the temple, we were greeted by the temple's elder priest.

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I informed him of the ordeal and he made me climb around a bunch of stuff before he finally took me to the altar. I thanked him and shook his hand. When I placed the key into the altar, the temple disintegrated and we woke up back at home as if from a dream. I checked and the bite marks from the snake were vanishing. Thankfully I had my camera with me and took these photos. Had someone told me this could happen I would have never believed them. Having lived it myself personally I can only accept these facts, tell my story and present photographic evidence of the extraordinary for the benefit of all of mankind.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Vindicator Valley Trail of Gold

The Vindicator Valley Trail is a 2-mile hiking trail which loops around a veritable gold mine of... gold mines. Countless gold mining operations set up camp in this valley over 100 years ago. Massive mining operations once dominated the hillside and large towns grew around them. Today there is very little left of both the mines and the towns which supported them. The crumbling ghosts of once mighty industries now dot the hills in silence. Fortunately, the ruins are now preserved in place and visitors can hike the interpretive trail which provides historic information and the chance to witness these awesome relics up close. There's very little left of what used to be but considering the alternative, it's incredible that there's anything left at all-especially when you consider these old wooden structures are 100 years old.

Since gold mining started here in the 1890's, over 23 million ounces of gold have been recovered from the district. At current prices ($1300 per troy ounce), this would be worth around US $30,000,000,000 ($30 billion..). Gold mining ceased for some time but resumed in 1991 with one of the largest such mines in the country. The current mine is an open pit mine which is constantly gobbling up all the land around it, including the old underground mines which preceded it. To their credit they have relocated some surface structures for preservation but it seems they have also destroyed various others, to the frustration of many of the locals.

Of the extant structures, the largest is the old Vindicator mine head frame and ore house. The Vindicator Consolidated Gold Mining Company was incorporated December, 1896 and through a succession of consolidations became one of the largest in the area when by the end of 1901 they had produced $3,500,000 in gold and by 1906 they owned nearly 80 acres in the heart of the valley. By 1912 they had 12 miles of tunnels to their credit, with about 350 employees and 150 lessees. In 1922 Vindicator was bought out by the United Gold Mines Company. UGM then leased out the properties to independent contractors. The mine closed in 1953, opened briefly for exploration in 1956, then shut down for good in 1958. Total production credited for the Vindicator mine was 1,244,000 troy ounces of gold.

Vindicator was the site of a bloody and decisive incident that took place during a period of labor wars (1903-1904) in the district at that time. During this period, violence between the anti-union mine owners and the unions who were organizing strikes resulted in the deployment of nearly 1,000 National Guard troops (who were secretly financed by the mine owners). Under the leadership of General Sherman Bell, a decorated veteran of the Spanish-American war, military rule was imposed to quash the strike and protect the mines and their owners from violence. As a member of the Western Federation of Miners, Albert Horsely, better known as Harry Orchard, targeted the influx of non-union miners and the companies that employed them with murderous intent. Horsely and an accomplice entered the Vindicator mine through an old unused shaft and rigged dynamite on the 600 level of the mine, setting it to detonate as soon as any miners exited the cart. On 21 November 1903, Superintendent McCormick and shift boss Beck exited the cart to inspect the level for future work when they were killed by the blast.

On 4 December 1903, the governor declared martial law, stating that the county was in a state of insurrection and rebellion. General Bell immediately announced that "the military will have sole charge of everything". Within weeks, the National Guard suspended the Bill of Rights, the newspaper was placed under military censorship, freedom of assembly was not allowed, the right to bear arms was suspended and citizens were required to give up their firearms along with their ammunition. In January 1904, a hoist "accident" in the Independence mine caused the deaths of 15 non-union workers and an explosion at the Independence train Depot (credited to Albert Horsely) killed another thirteen and injured six. The Citizen's Alliance then took matters into their own hands and began expelling all union-friendly civil authorities from town. This lead to a shootout at the Miner's Hall between the union miners and the National Guard which lasted for over an hour before the union members surrendered. The Citizen's Alliance then wrecked the hall and all other halls and WFM stores in the district. On June 7th, General Bell organized the process of deportation of over 230 union members across state lines. After the complete destruction of the WFM in this district, all mines in the area were subsequently non-union from this point forward. It isn't clear to this day, however, if the actions blamed on the unions were all entirely true or if the mine owners orchestrated much of the violence themselves in order to crush the unions and end the strikes.

The following two historical images give an idea the size of this operation 100 years ago. Note the ore house and head frame visible in these images.

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The Theresa Gold Mining Company began in 1895 and operated this mine only until 1900 when it was purchased by the Golden Cycle Mining Company. It was subsequently sold to the Vindicator Consolidated Gold Mining Company, which was then bought and sold again back to Golden Cycle. By 1920, the shaft was 1,620 feet deep and was serviced by a Wellman-Seaver-Morgan double-drum steam hoist which was powered by a 250 hp Babcock & Wilson boiler. In 1934 the entire surface plant burned down. The four-post derrick type limber headframe was replaced by the present steel structure. The plant was upgraded with a metal hoist house, orehouse and change room. It was closed, along with all other mines, during WWII and resumed production in 1946. After alternating between years of production and idling during the course of its life, the Theresa Mine was closed for the final time in 1961 after having produced over 120,000 troy ounces of gold.

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Dunham Mine

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Note the Ford Model A powered hoist. Easily one of the coolest things I've ever stumbled upon.

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Ore sorting near Vindicator

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The small Anna J Mine

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This house was once home to the Alfred Bebee family. Alfred was at one time the superintendent of the Ajax, Cresson, Vindicator and Golden Cycle mines. Eventually he was the superintendent of all mining and milling in the district. The house was occupied until the 1950's when Vindicator shut down.

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Winfield Scott Stratton staked his claim at the appropriately named Independence Mine on July 4th 1891. 3 years later, Stratton became the district's first millionaire. In 1899, he sold the mine for $11 million. Independence had 17 miles of tunnels and reached a depth of 1440 feet and was the third largest gold producer in the district.

Independence mine was the site of the hoist accident that resulted in the deaths of 15 men. One man survived by grabbing a piece of timber at the top of the shaft just before the cage was thrust into the sheave wheel at the top at which point the cable was severed, sending the cage free-falling to the bottom of the nearly 1500 foot shaft. The man was left hanging onto the timber above the shaft until he was rescued.

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