Mines, mills share common family ties

Posted: Friday, June 26, 2009

Jerry Harmon has been a miner for 36 years, since he first moved to Alaska. He's always worked for Alaskan companies but has been "loaned out" and worked all over the world, in Canada, Africa and Brazil. Except for a brief stint at an open pit mine, he's been a hard rock miner underground for all those years. And he wouldn't have it any other way.

"I love being a miner," he said. "You meet a lot of real good people. There's a great family life with mining."

With his uncles, cousins and children working in mines, it sure looks like Harmon's bloodline just might contain traces of precious metals.

"Right now I don't know of any place I'd rather live or any job I'd rather have than right here in Juneau, Alaska, working as a miner," Harmon said.

One thing the mining and logging industries have in common is the family atmosphere, event coordinator Sullivan said. She and her family lived in Hoonah for many years, working at the Whitestone logging camp.

"Loggers aren't loggers for the money," Sullivan said. "Their fathers and grandfathers were loggers. They've grown up with it. They're just hard working, hard playing men and women."

And, she added, former loggers tend to miss the life - she certainly does.

"I miss the logging camp atmosphere, that extended family atmosphere," she said. "I think mining is much the same way. It's not all about climbing any corporate ladder and who can climb higher than the next guy. You have to get the product out. You really have to trust your coworkers."

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