Posts Tagged ‘Mining’

Copper Markers Provide a Glimpse into America’s Past

September 9th, 2009 No comments

This article is not about markers made of copper. While many of the markers I found in researching it were fashioned from copper or one of its alloys, what really intrigued me was the copper storyline that emerged, the artifacts of America’s centuries-old relationship with copper.

Recently, in the course of one of those online meanderings we all succumb to now and then, I came across The Historical Marker Database (HMDB)Old Copper Culture Cemetery marker, an illustrated, searchable online catalog for people who like to share, according to the site’s tagline, “bite-size bits of local, national, and global history”.

The HMDB has hundreds of photographs, inscription transcriptions, marker locations, maps, commentaries, and links to more information. With one search, I knew I had hit pay dirt. I found fascinating remnants of copper mining and manufacturing history, told through the statues, plaques, monuments, and documentation submitted by citizen historians all over the country – and a great place to while away an afternoon.

The HMDB database can be filtered by state or country, historical period, industry, or some sixty other categories, as well as by keyword. My keyword, copper, yielded more than a few “bite-size bits” in which the semi-precious metal played a role.

These words are from a road sign in Copper Hill, New Jersey:

By 1816 copper ore was found here, and north towards Flemington. The mining craze lasted through 1865. It was never profitable, but gave Copper Hill its name. Erected 2009 by Hunterdon County Cultural And Heritage Commission. Read more…

Heavy Metal Tour

August 20th, 2009 No comments

Early yesterday morning, 136,000 pounds of copper left Rio Tinto’s Kennecott refinery in Magna, Utah, on the first leg of a 2,900-mile heavy metal tour that will culminate a year from now at the site of the new Utah Museum of Natural History in Salt Lake City.

Signing of commemorative posterAfter having been extracted at Bingham Canyon Mine and processed at Kennecott, the new copper cathodes will travel across the country, stopping in Mesa, Arizona, and Buffalo, New York, for further processing into sheets. The finished copper will reach its final destination to become the shell of the new museum.

The entire project is being documented on the museum’s Web site, giving the public in Utah and beyond a rare opportunity to observe the copper’s journey, from blasted rock, through the fabrication process, to the construction of a brand new copper-sheathed museum complex that will be named the Utah Museum of Natural History at the Rio Tinto Center.

The copper is part of a $15 million donation by Rio Tinto, the parent company of Kennecott Utah Copper. “Kennecott’s support for the museum dates back 30 years,” noted museum director Sarah George. “Its financial donations for special events, exhibits, and educational programming have provided learning opportunities to tens of thousands of visitors annually.” The Utah State Legislature provided additional funding.

Interior of new museumCopper was selected as the ideal material for the building’s façade because of its timelessness, durability, and strong local significance. The copper bands that will comprise the façade will be enriched with two types of copper-zinc alloy that will enhance the subtle variegation in the copper’s natural patina. Over time, the façade will go from being as bright as a penny to a dark brown, and finally, to a beautiful variegated verde finish.

“The copper façade roots the museum to the Utah landscape by virtue of both the material’s origin and its design expression as a natural form,” said John Branson, principal, GSBS Architects. “The copper will be integral to the museum’s unique identity and become a recognizable feature of one of the state’s most loved and admired institutions.”

The present Utah Museum of Natural History houses more than 1.5 million objects, providing unique natural history experiences to Utah residents through exhibits, special events, and programs, and a variety of outreach activities with communities and schools. The new facility will expand the museum’s services to include eight themed exhibitions, a children’s gallery, a large changing exhibits gallery, a cafe, and a museum store.

A press event was held at the Kennecott refinery to announce the new museum project and kick off the cross-country tour. Commemorative Heavy Metal Tour posters and earplugs were distributed to the crowds of copper fans and local media that came to witness the big send-off.

The public can follow the copper’s fabrication process over the next several months by: