Posts Tagged ‘mining’

Thursday, August 23, 2018

NYCO Mine Expansion Into Wilderness Falters

NYCO mineRemember when New Yorkers approved an Adirondack land swap to keep a mine in business and its employees on the job?

It hasn’t exactly worked out as planned so far.

Five years ago voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing NYCO Minerals to pursue a mine expansion onto the Adirondack Forest Preserve on the east side of the Jay Mountain Wilderness. Local politicians backed it for its potential economic boost, while some environmentalists got on board because of a proposed land swap that could grow the preserve.

Others feared the precedent of permitting resource development in a wilderness.

As it turns out, none of it has happened. The company’s new owners never pursued the swap and have laid off workers. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 16, 2018

Star Lake Steel Company Clean-Up Meeting Set For July 20

The State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), St. Lawrence County, and the Development Authority of the North Country (DANC) have announced a public meeting has been set for Friday, July 20, 2018, to provide the public with a comprehensive presentation of cleanup efforts at the former Jones and Laughlin (J&L) Steel Company site (Benson Mines) at Star Lake.

The Magnetic Iron Company began developing the area on top of what they believed would be a valuable ore body in the late 1880s. The Benson Mines Company started open pit mining operations at the site and produced magnetite and non-magnetite ore intermittently until the mine closed from 1919 to 1941. 

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Adirondack Uranium Rush (Conclusion)

The failure of Adirondack Uranium and Mineral Corporation in early 1957 dominated the news cycle, but there was still activity in a half-dozen Lewis County sites where prospectors were searching for uranium.

In May of that year, there was also related news on the eastern edge of the Adirondacks. After an aerial survey detected radioactivity along Route 22 between Ticonderoga and Whitehall, a mining company obtained options to explore the farms of John DeLorme and Earl Shattuck to verify the readings and determine if suitable quantities of ore were present. They weren’t. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Adirondack Uranium: A Lewis County Boondoggle

In late summer 1955, after two months of surveying and studying uranium deposits in Saratoga County, Robert Zullo and his partners, George McDonnell and Lewis Lavery, saw their claims publicly dismissed in print by a business rival, who told the Leader-Herald there were “no major deposits of uranium in the Sacandaga region.” Geologist John Bird of Schenectady had been hired by a Wyoming uranium-mining company to survey the area, and after thirty days, he had found uraninite only in “ridiculously small” quantities. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Adirondack Uranium Rush (Part 3)

Under the newly formed Mohawk Mining Company (MMC), the trio of George McDonnell, Lewis Lavery, and Robert Zullo had high hopes of successfully developing uranium deposits they discovered near Batchellerville in Saratoga County. Plans were made for radiometric surveys of the sites, and they began pumping water from two feldspar quarries to examine the deeper rock for additional specimens. Tests were also planned on old piles of mine tailings that caused Geiger counters to react. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Adirondack Rush of ’49: Searching For Uranium

After the big news of a possible uranium ore bed near Plattsburgh failed to pan out in early 1949, the search for ore continued locally and nationally.

Many magazines, including Life (“The Uranium Rush”) and Popular Mechanics (“The ’49 Uranium Rush”) featured stories on the phenomenon that was sweeping the country. The coincidence of timing — the 100th anniversary of the 1849 California gold rush — made for enticing newspaper headlines as well. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Billy Richards, ‘the Armless Wonder’: Playing the Hand You’re Dealt

While researching a pair of books on North Country iron mining, I unexpectedly became privy to tragedies that many families faced. Mining accidents were frequent and involved excessive violence, often resulting in death. Victims were sometimes pancaked — literally — by rock falls, and their remains were recovered with scraping tools. Others were blown to pieces by dynamite explosions, usually as the result of, in mining parlance, “hitting a missed hole.”

The “missed hole” nomenclature refers to unexploded dynamite charges accidentally detonated later by another miner when his drill made contact with the material or caused a spark. The resulting blast was often fatal, but not always. Those who survived were usually blinded, burned badly, or maimed in some fashion.

In 1878, in Crown Point’s iron mines at Hammondville, near Lake Champlain, a young laborer, Billy Richards, was tasked with holding a star drill (basically a hand-held chisel with a star point) against the ore face while his partner — his step-father, Richard George — struck it with a sledge hammer. Through this commonly used teamwork method, a cadence developed whereby the star drill was struck and the holder then turned it slightly before it was struck again. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 7, 2015

Low-flying Plane Expected Over Eastern Adirondacks

airplaneIf you are in Essex and Clinton counties, you may notice an airplane flying a grid pattern at low altitude for a few weeks this December as scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey map buried geological features that provide clues into mineral resources in the area.

The region was known for iron ore mining in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but it also contains deposits of rare earth minerals according to the USGS. Rare earth minerals are used in advanced technology such as in cell phones, rechargeable batteries and super-magnets. The surveys will measure subtle changes in Earth’s magnetic field that reflect different types of buried rock. They will also measure low, background levels of natural radioactivity that help with mapping different types of surface rocks. Together, these data will allow visualization of geological structures at and beneath the surface. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 5, 2015

World War Two: Wartime in the Adirondacks

GE-M1RocketLauncherIn August 1939, tanks began rolling toward the border. That short sentence should call to mind the beginnings of World War II, as German tanks headed for Poland. The very same thing was happening here at the very same time: tanks preparing for war were rolling towards New York’s border in August 1939. It was the 66th Infantry’s tank battalion out of Fort Devens, Massachusetts, crossing the Crown Point Bridge from Vermont to Port Henry and heading north to the Plattsburgh area for war maneuvers. Included were more than a hundred trucks and motorcycles and thirty-seven tanks. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

High Peaks Oil Trains: A Primer On The Issues

Iowa Pacific oil trainsThe Iowa-Pacific rail company took state officials and environmental activists by surprise in July when it unveiled a plan to store hundreds of drained oil-tanker cars on its tracks near Tahawus on the edge of the High Peaks Wilderness.

Ed Ellis, the president of Iowa Pacific, says revenue from storing the cars will help keep afloat its tourist train, the Saratoga & North Creek Railway, which has been losing money. Critics contend Iowa Pacific is creating a quasi-junkyard in the Adirondack Park. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

History Hike Planned Near Penfield Museum

Morris Glenn Leading tour convertChamplain Area Trails (CATS) will present “On the Trail to the Monitor,” a short hike led by local historian Morris Glenn on Saturday, September 12 from 10 am to 1 pm.

The hike will begin at the Penfield Museum, 703 Creek Rd., in Crown Point. Participants will follow a short and easy half-mile route along the Old Ironville Road and Penfield Pond Trails as Glenn presents information on the history of the area and the USS Monitor. The Monitor was the first ironclad warship commissioned by the Union Navy during the American Civil War. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Lyon Mountain Iron Miners Personified Labor Day

LyMtMinesRaiseLabor Day honors the labor movement and the contributions of America’s workers, concepts that have been driven home for me many times through interviews with old-timers who helped build this country. Typical among them was Floyd Bracey, a proud Lyon Mountain iron miner who passed away in 1993. Referring to my factory job back then as “work” seemed unfair after learning about Mr. Bracey’s daily routine of more than three decades.

What follows are excerpts from our conversation in 1980 at the Bracey home in Lyon Mountain, about ten minutes west of Dannemora. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 3, 2015

Complaint: DEC Illegally Lobbied For Company Mining Wilderness Area

NYCO's open pit mine as seen from Bald Peak in 2013Protect the Adirondacks conducted an investigation into the role of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in support of the 2013 Constitutional Amendment to allow NYCO Minerals, Inc., a mining company in Essex County, to undertake mining activities and obtain 200 acres of “forever wild” Forest Preserve lands.

The investigation started in early 2014 and used hundreds of documents from the DEC and Board of Elections obtained under the Freedom of Information Law. PROTECT’s investigation found what the group is calling “a startling and illegal commitment of DEC’s staff time and resources to support NYCO’s bid to buy Forest Preserve lands.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 27, 2015

When the Compass Says North is Everywhere

Compass BearingsThe recent pursuit of prison escapees near Mountain View and Owl’s Head in northern Franklin County ignited for me a few memories from the area, both related to iron ore. Lyon Mountain, a few miles northeast of Standish, produced the world’s highest-grade iron ore for a century. Standish was home to the iron company’s blast furnace, and the village is linked to Mountain View by an unsurfaced, 11-mile stretch of the Wolf Pond Road.

When I interviewed old-timers back in the early 1980s for a couple of books about Lyon Mountain’s history, they told me of how the blast furnace stood out several decades earlier for residents of Franklin County, south of Malone, especially in the Mountain View area. Across the valley where the Salmon River flows parallel to the Wolf Pond Road, there was a nightly bright glow on the eastern horizon. At times the furnace, which ran 24/7, looked like a giant torch in the distance. The effect was powerful when nights were truly dark, before everyone decided that floodlights were a great idea. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Paddling the Upper Hudson and Opalescent Rivers

Mann_opalescent-600x388Brian Mann and I had been on the water for several hours when we came to a fallen tree stretched across the river. We pulled over to a sandbank to carry our canoes around.

“Human footprints,” Brian remarked.

“So I guess we’re not Lewis and Clark,” I replied. » Continue Reading.