Monday, June 25, 2012

Grandpa, Mining & Memories...

This past weekend Mr. C and I had a rare opportunity to visit some private mining collections and displays.  I have no photos of the first property we visited as I had no idea what I was in for and did not bring my camera.  In my visits I got to reminiscing about my Grandpa.  I found a few black and white photos of him and scanned them into my computer.  I loved and still love my Grandpa.  He was a kind and loving man who worked very hard all of his life.  The reason I have included him in this post is that at the age of 14 years old he had to quit school and go to work in the coal mines in his home state of Alabama.  Now that I live in the Gold Mining belt of California and all of its history I can much more appreciate what he gave up to help support his mama and siblings.  Coal is very dirty and nasty.  In my Grandpa's final years he was very ill and finally properly diagnosed with Black Lung disease.  He died shortly thereafter and there was no restitution ever paid him as should have been.  The life of a miner is not an easy one and I admire their fortitude.
 Here are photos of the private collection I got to visit.  All of this was for gold mining here in Northern California.  This is a working two stamp mill.  The ground actually shakes with just two and most mines had numerous stamp mills pounding 24/7.
 I just adore all things old and drenched in character with so many stories entrenched into the pieces.  This cabin is a real one that a miner lived in.  No McMansion here...this is about 10'x10' and very basic!
 This amazing collection is a wealth of history with many stories attached to it.  One man and his wife lovingly search out and acquire bits and pieces and then carefully display them.  The key pieces actually work and show us flat-landers just what it was really like back in the days.
 Every place your eye could look was something amazing and historic and fabulous.
Even this mine entrance looks authentic because it really is!
How very generous of this wonderful couple to not only save and preserve such irreplaceable bits of history but to actually host an open house for visitors.  No admittance charge and no donations were allowed.  I thanked them in person but I will also send them a note of gratitude.
I am linking to Donna of Brynwood Needleworks for Memory Lane Monday.  Thank you Donna for letting me share.


  1. How fascinating. I love visiting you as I always love hearing your stories. And I come away with a bit of a history lesson to boot.
    I am sorry that your Grandfather had that horrible disease. They really didn't take care of their men. I so hope it is better for the workers today.
    By the way you hit the nail on the head. My handsome deer had eaten my day-lilies. Of course I didn't know that at the time I was taking his photo. LOL

  2. Dear Sherry,
    yes it has been an awful work, to every day spend hours in the dark, and dirty mines, getting all that dust in your lungs and body-
    Ho hard have the lives sometimes been for our forefathers!
    Must have been so interesting to see those places!
    Hugs ,Dorthe

  3. How exciting to have visited a place that was so close to your family. I am sure your grandpa was very important and visiting this place brought some very nice memories of him.
    Hope you are having some nice weather. We are having rain rain and more rain everyday.
    Happy scrapping.

  4. These are such good photos, Sherry. Yes, the work ethic was very different back then and what it took to support a family was significantly more than today's young people can even comprehend. "the good ol' days"

  5. Very touching, Sherry. It makes me sad and emotional, and grateful that miners are thought about and remembered. Such a hard life...with impending sickness...not to mention daily danger. When I was a little girl, the gypsum mine was under our house. Every day at 3:20 pm the blasts would start. My mom still lives there and has our cracked mirror still up. When we were buying that house when I was only six years old, we got a rare tour down in the mines. I remember the utter fear of that rickety elevator going down, down, down. Every male in our neighborhood, over the mine, even my Dad, has died early of cancer.

  6. Hi Sherry, what a hard slog mining in those days would have been!Much of our state of South Australia was founded on ming- especially copper with miners from Cornwall in England coming here to settle.The mines at Moonta etc up north are so tragic.Many miners lived in the sides of the creek beds.The hundreds of babies who died before they were one year old.
    Our forefathers and mothers were a very tough breed.They had to be to survive.
    Judy xxI lost my other blog- just got deleted(!!?? not by me).

  7. Dear Sherry;
    I look at those pictures, read your story and I can feel the sacrifices that these men made to provide a better life for their families.
    Many times they'd travel far from home (in the case of the CA Gold Rush) in hope of striking it rich. In your grandfather's case, he stayed close to home and spent long hours in a dark, dangerous place all for the sake of his family.
    What a courageous and unselfish man he must have been.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for adding this story to Memory Lane Monday today. The photos and your words are true "food for thought".


  8. What a fabulous thing for that couple to do. Amazing what individuals are able to accomplish of their own accord, to preserve and respect a bit of history, while government agencies drag their feet and squabble over funds. The photos of your grandfather are wonderful. Have a great day! Tammy

  9. Hello Sweet Friend, WOW this is a walk down memory lane for me to read your fabulous post. Love the pics of your grandpa. How hard these men worked in the mines and to preserve their stories of sacrifice is so neccesary.
    My grandpa, uncles, cousins and father also worked in the coal mines in PA. My dad left for the war, and then after, married my mother and moved to Michigan where he worked for Ford Motor Company. I loved the stories he would tell about the mines. My uncle got black lung too but it did not take his life for many years later.
    Your pics are wonderful. I love this history. This was and is such hard work. I know you are very proud of your grandpa.

    Thank you for sharing this history and wonderful pics.
    Also, thank you for stopping by and your kind comment. You are such a dear.
    Hugs, Celestina Marie

  10. This posts reminds me of the song Grandpa, by the Judds. What a life those brave miners lead, often into the mine at dark and out that evening in the dark again. Great post and photos too. My thread catcher arrived and I am loving it should be doing a post on it tommorrow!

  11. What amazing photo's and history :)

  12. Hi Sherry,

    I have enjoyed reading this post very much. This is a piece of Americana that many people know little about.
    Your grandfather worked so very hard. So sorry to know he suffered
    with black lung.
    The couple that has lovingly put all this history together for people to know and understand how hard the life of a miner was... are indeed very special people.

    Blessings and Hugs,


  13. Hi Sherry! :) I really enjoyed this post. How interesting! I love visiting historic places. I'm so sorry your sweet grandfather had that horrible disease. That's so sad sweetie.
    xo Paulette

  14. Oh it was a tough job, still tough and dangerous. I guess it was fairly descent pay and that is why they did it, having no idea what it would do to their health. We sure don't expect much out of our 14 year old these days...Maybe...They mow the lawn!


  15. What wonderful photos of this special place! Isn't it interesting to get a chance to see some of the real history of your area? Mining was - and still is - such a tough, dangerous, and unhealthy job!
    Thanks for sharing, Jane


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