1896: The great A.J. mine
In celebrating the 125th anniversary of The Aspen Times, we are printing a story or two from each year the newspaper has existed – 125 historical selections in 125 days. This series is in conjunction with the Aspen Historical Society.The Times Reporter of the Mine “Gives Away” Some Carefully Guarded Secrets-Over Two Hundred Tons of 150 Ounce Ore Shipped Weekly.There is considerable excitement among the miners in this mine over the announcement in last Sunday’s Times that it had a reporter at work with them as a miner. You see orders had gone out some time since that any man would be discharged who was known to give information about the mine, and especially to a newspaper, not only was such a person to be fired, but every mother’s son of them was to walk the plank. Of course there was trouble in their thinkers; they are on the lookout for the reporter, and if found will fire him bodily. But how are they going to find him? He looks just like they do, is a fair miner, having mined in Nevada in years past. He is a g3enial fellow and a daredevil in his makeup. The other day he sauntered up to Mr. Cox himself when he came down to his level and asked him for a light, and as Mr. Cox, the superintendent, was talking to some man, the reporter got this piece of news with his match:”Mr. Palmer on his recent visit East gave order for two large compound pumps, and when they arrive we will continue the incline two hundred feet a run drifts under the ore bodies.” That was not a bad piece of information to come from the boss!I have noticed for some weeks that weekly there are backed in, some seven and eight thirty-ton cars to be loaded with ore. This ore averages more than 150 ounces to the ton, and some goes much higher.An extension to the power house is being made to give additional room for the boiler plant. In various ways there are signs that great preparations are being made for some signal event in the history of this mine. I am at work in a stope where the ore is from six to eight feet thick, and from a sample taken myself and bucked down, this ore runs 200 ounces. Ore of this nature, and fine levels in it, full of wire silver, is enough to make a stockholder hold his side with glee. Some of these miners have enough of this stock that, if silver goes up a bit, will make them independent. There was a time when the men though there was gold in this ore, but I learn that as the assayers in Aspen could find no evidence of it, the company ran the rumor down and found that a shipment to the sampler had followed a gold shipment to the sampling room, and got salted. However, there is no reason why gold should not be found in the Aspen ore. The annual report of the Argentum-Juniata will appear next month, in which the year’s work will be elucidated. If there is one thing Mr. Palmer can do better than another it is to make a clean and concise report which all can understand.A queer thing happened the other day that nearly cost me my job. You see, I wear glasses, and in mining clothes resemble the superintendent. I had never seen Mr. Cox under ground, and on this occasion I was not feeling well and was “soldiering,” when I looked up I thought I saw my double, and was scared so I could not move. Soon a man laid his hand on my shoulder and asked me what I was doing in the main drift? The voice, the manner revealed to me his personality, and I have him a reasonable answer, and he passed on.There are leasers in this mine as everything here is virgin ground. The mine is a big thing, the ore bodies dip and continue inside its territory. Who can say to what limit this mine will ship on the rise in silver. Having been in every mine in Aspen I can say that the Argentum-Juniata will beat them all. I met Mr. palmer at the Jerome hotel during his last visit to Aspen, and in conversation with several gentlemen heard him tell them in answer to a direct question that the Argentum-Juniata mine was free from litigation; to be sure, he said there is a dispute over a ten-foot right of way on the surface, and another dispute with Mr. Marple about the right to an air shaft. There disputes are not of note, and s the boys now have it “cut no ice,” I mention this because the busy kind allude knowingly to “law suits,” and when cornered talk about sidelines on the lots acquired from the citizens. There is no trouble of this kind. A miner asked Mr. Cox the other day if he wanted the right to mine under his lot, the answer was that the company had all the territory it desired.No, there are no flaws, no trouble, no difficulties to overcome. Everything is on the up grade. Even the silver tide is coming in. The stock is low now, presenting a good chance for the farseeing man.
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