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And the West is History: Mining competition in Silverton – ca. 1931

Invariably, historical societies attain photographs of neighboring counties’ bygone events. In 1989, the La Plata County Historical Society was gifted this photo taken in nearby San Juan County. It shows a single-jack mining competition from around 1931 at the corner of Greene and 12th streets in Silverton. It was likely taken during the Independence Day celebration that year. The first hardrock mining competition was held in that mountain community in 1882. In 1924, an annual Sheepmen’s Days celebration was started. In the early 1930s, it transitioned to an Independence Day event that included hardrock mining contests. In 1948, the mining competition was given the name “Hardrockers Holidays” and moved away from the Fourth of July. The event continued into the mid-1950s. After a hiatus of about 20 years, the competitive event restarted in 1974. The 50-year anniversary of the reimagined celebration of hardrock mining will be celebrated in 2024. Besides Silverton, annual hardrock mining competitions are held in Ouray, Creede and Leadville. Some color had been added to this photo for improved clarity. – Ed Horvat for Animas Museum, edhorvat@animasmuseum.org. (Catalog Number: 89.38.34 from the La Plata County Historical Society Photo Collections)