Mining worked for Juneau

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, December 16, 2002

Remember the good old days of mining in Alaska when exploration boomed in Juneau? You know, back before the turn of the century. Businesses were benefited by the boom. Many were created as a result of it. Juneau's economy was boosted by mining money. The Bergman Hotel was full of miners and drillers who spent their time off and their paychecks in this small town. Remember how Pat and Marguerite would grubstake a miner (sometimes to their chagrin) till he got back from camp or the payroll office? Sometimes a cabin-fevered miner would need to be braced, but as a general rule camaraderie made for a very peaceful community to those fellows whose common thread was the basest of professions, knocking holes in hard rock.

That thread led to the early demise of a few like Bob, who got wrapped up in a drill, or Smiley, who took a long tumble, and don't forget Chris, who took on 16 tons. It was a time of colorful characters like Anthony, whose Lincoln-like beard assured us of his honesty. And Frank, who fulfilled his destiny at a drilling contest. Ah, yes. The miners' lady, Laurie. Many a hardrocker was overheard expressing his physical desire for her. Too far back to remember? Which turn of the century are you thinking of? While many of these names are now a memory, they are a part of the modern history of mining in Juneau. So, again history has shown that mining is good for Juneau.

While sustainability of mining is dependent on the presence of the product, the sustaining ability of responsible mining on a community and its economy should make any reasonable citizen consider it as a viable industry. What if Kowee didn't show Juneau the gold? It wouldn't be Juneau now, would it? It might be Craig (Oops! That one's taken.). But you can bet on one thing. The gold would be found and it would be mined and it would be good for whatever community arose from it. From the glory hole days of the Gold Rush era to the more recent interest in hardrock ore, mining has proved to be nothing but good for Juneau as well as for many communities across Alaska. Mining is a fact of life as represented in your home, your car, your television and computer and it affects virtually every aspect of your life.

Responsibility is a key word that affects the bottom line of feasibility and one to be taken seriously. You have to respect a community that does take it seriously. Juneau is such a community and can be counted on to police its environment while taking advantage of resource development to bolster its economy. Mining worked for Juneau in the good old days - twice.

Kirk Ziegenfuss


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