Step into mining history |

Step into mining history

summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado

As you view the mining memorabilia at the County Commons ” oil wick lamps, hats, blasting caps, even a canary cage ” you can almost imagine glancing over at that canary to make sure it was still alive, reassuring you the levels of methane and carbon monoxide in the mine were still safe.

It’s one thing to look at old mining items and imagine, but it’s even better to gaze upon them as you listen to stories associated with the items. Saturday, at 3 p.m., Leo Stambaugh will talk about Robert Guthrie’s extensive collection of artifacts, on display at the County Commons lobby.

Guthrie, a medical doctor and mining artifact affectionado, met Stambaugh in the early 1990s, when he walked into Stambaugh’s antique shop in Georgetown. Stambaugh knew all of the old miners around town, and when some of them died, he bought artifacts from the families and either sold them in his shop ” which he owned for 20 years ” or donated them to museums.

Because of Guthrie and Stambaugh’s mutual interest, the two men became good friends. Guthrie was an active resident in Summit County, cycling more than 100 miles every week in the summer and skiing in the winter. He died last year in a skiing accident.

“Bob’s collection has some of the best examples of artifacts in the U.S.,” said Sue Paluska, who coordinates the displays in the County Commons lobby.

Saturday Stambaugh will talk about the dreams and inspiration that led miners westward, in search of a better life and riches. He sees them as the foundation for colonization of the west.

“They weren’t content with day-to-day life,” Stambaugh said. “They had inspiration to move around and see what the world was about.”

Stambaugh will tell stories about some of the most meaningful items to miners, one being candlesticks. Obviously, candlesticks were necessary to light the mens’ way as they descended 1,000 feet underground. But they also acted as a kind of badge of honor: Miners fashioned their own candlesticks out of iron and steel, sometimes plating them with nickel, gold and silver. When they retired or got promoted, they often received a fancy candlestick, Stambaugh said.

The mining memorabilia will be on display through April at the County Commons lobby.

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