Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mine All Mine

You may remember that, some years ago, I mentioned that there's a copper mine just outside of the city here, and that I made an off-hand promise to visit this mine. I may also have mentioned that the only thing I had heard about this place is that they had trucks there with big wheels. Well, before I went, I did a little research, because I'm from the South and I've been to a monster truck rally, and if big wheels were all this place could offer up, then I wasn't going. Turns out this place is called Bingham Canyon Mine, and it's one of the ten largest man-made holes on the planet. A superlative like that is enough for me; I jumped in the car and headed out.

The internet map said 'drive south.' That's what I did. Eventually things stopped looking urban, and then stopped looking suburban, and then started looking secret military test site. There was very little in the way of directions out on site, so I just kept driving towards the big thing in front of me.

I was confronted by this sign. After an hour's deliberation, I flipped a coin and turned left.

Kept driving. Traveled up hills and through switchbacks. Paid a guard at a guardhouse to get through a big gate. He told me to keep an eye out for the Visitor's Center. I kept driving, and was soon confronted by this sign:

Again, I thought carefully... and when that didn't yield any results, I flipped that same coin, and turned left. Parked in a small lot next to a fence, and when I looked over the fence, I saw I was on a ledge overlooking the mine itself:

Wow that is one big hole in the ground. Certainly looked like one of the biggest ten.

This is the left side of the hole. I flipped a coin to see which side to photograph first.

This is the other side. It was quite amazing to see the whole thing at once.

The inside was buzzing with these little Tonka trucks. Seemed to me that if they wanted to move a lot of dirt, they should be using bigger trucks.
Behind me was the Visitor's Center. It had been on the left the whole time. I stepped inside and checked out a bunch of dioramas reminding me that hardly anything in the world would be possible without metal from this very mine. My TV. My radio. Even airplanes would not be possible without the copper, aluminum, and molybdenum outta this big hole. I'm just going to type that word again, just because it's fun to spell: molybdenum.
Watched a short propaganda film about the mine. It took me through the mining process, from finding trace amounts of copper in grand amounts of dirt to sifting and boiling the metal to cooling it into sheets and refining it. One of the more amazing things that I remember is that even the tallest building made by man wouldn't reach out of the top of the mine. That is one big hole.

On my way out, I noticed several displays I had missed while I was busy being amazed by a big hole. This was one of the first carts used to truck ore out of the mine.

Don't laugh at at its prehistoricism... you could have had to use this.

Also found that big damn wheel Creedence and everyone had been talking about. Again, it had been on the left. So I guess those trucks in the mine weren't all that small after all.
So now I've been to a hundred-and-fifty-year-old two-mile-deep hole in the ground. That's pretty cool any way you look at it. Except maybe if you look out of it. Then you'd have a long walk ahead of you.

2 Comments:

Blogger Lucy said...

Wait, did you go to the bottom?
If so, was it hot or cold?

You were really close to the mantle so I'm very interested in your answer.

1:42 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

No, I didn't get to go to the mantle. I was as disappointed as you are. I wanted to see the dinosaurs and sleestaks.

10:17 AM  

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