[Primarily locations in Colorado: 1900-1908]. Approximately 300 total pages, comprising 90 letters and other various materials, primarily manuscripts. Contents clean with minimal wear, written in a clear and legible hand. Very good. Item #1531
An extensive archive of letters and other documents from the founding of the 94 Tunnel Mining Company through its first years of operation. The present materials were accumulated by George Francis of LaPorte, Indiana, who served first as the company's vice president and subsequently as its president. Most of the letters herein were written to Mr. Francis by the company's founding secretary, George Possell, and most are dated either at Denver or at Yankee, Colorado between 1901 and 1905. In addition to more than 200pp. of correspondence, the archive includes a manuscript account of the company's initial organizational meeting, a typed report on the property at Yankee Hill, typed reports of shareholder meetings, and numerous forms with stock and shareholder information. There is also a printed prospectus for the Yankee Hill Gold Section of Clear Creek County which mentions the mine, and a small ledger kept by George Francis recording expenses and other business information related to the company.
Yankee Hill is located approximately twenty miles northwest from the current outskirts of Denver. The 94 Tunnel Mining Company was organized on May 28, 1900 at a meeting in Denver, and the manuscript minutes of the meeting lay out the initial election of officers, as well as the by-laws governing the company. A typed report from July that year gives the location, general condition, and progress of the camp, as well as its geologic advantages. "The '94 Tunnel is three hours ride from Idaho Springs by stage, and the property of the company is located on the southwest slope of Yankee Hill. Its surface, buildings and large acreage or property has resulted in its being more generally known as 'The '94 Camp.' I should say that it was located at the very center of the mineral bearing belt of the camp." The author goes on to report about the veins and lodes in the area, and the rosy future of the 94 Tunnel: "the ore in sight and that which will be developed by the '94 Crosscut can be treated very cheaply by reason of the situation and condition existing at your property... from the size and continuity of the veins I am prepared to say that there must be an amount that would appall one were he to reach figures by any method of computation." The primary product was gold, though other ores were also in evidence. The company appears to have had at least two presidents in its first two years of operation; an annual report from 1901 indicates George Francis as vice president, and by letters from 1902 he is named on the letterhead as president. This seems to have remained the case until 1908, when he shifted roles back to vice president. George Possell is listed as secretary and treasurer throughout this period.
Possell, who seems to have been a driving force for the success of the mine, writes in great detail about the operations at Yankee Hill. Possell was also involved with the Home Dairy Restaurant in Denver, and seems to have split his time and energy between the two businesses. His early letters are full of optimism for the success of the venture, and filled with rigorous detail. In addition to corresponding about matters relating to the company's stocks and finances in his role as treasurer, he gives precise information about ore loads and operations -- essentially, he was the company's man on the ground. Writing to Francis is December 1901, he discusses the production rates at the mill in the current wintry conditions:
"Well Mr. Francis I found the mill in operation and what work is being done is very satisfactory. The saving is very good and to concentrates have good value. The last assay by stack was $108.40 per ton on concentrates, but the amount that can be put through is to[o] small. As near as I can estimate the run about 50 ton in the last 17 day making a little over 4 tons concentrates. I don't think the concentrates will go much above $75.00 so you see we are not making enough to pay expenses of running the mill as are from $22.00 to $25.00 per day. ... it seems to me we better not try to run the mill untill our capacity is increased and the tables rebuild. As it is it takes five men to run, whereas three ought to and can do the work when the things are in proper shape."
As the months and years progress, the difficulties involved in mining become more apparent, both to the reader and perhaps also to the author. In September 1902 the mine needed capital for improvements, and Possell writes, "Winter is almost upon us again and we can not expect to do a great deal of out side work this fall. I wish we could get enough money to get that placer patent through at once, and a most necessary thing that should be done by all means and that is to fix up the drainage in the 94 tunnel. This should be attended to at once or we will be in the same mess that we were in last winter. It not only fills the tunnel with ice but spoils the timbering if the tunnel. We are obliged to put in several sets of timber now on account of frost and ice last winter." And flooding wasn't the only problem the mine faced that month. Writing a week later, he delivers "another disgusting piece of news" to Francis: "I was served with a summons this morning by which Mr. J.J. Smith brings action for $20,000.00 against the 94 Tunnel Mining Co. claiming that we unlawfully refused to issue him 147,994 shares of the capital stock of this company in accordance with a contract and agreement dated May 3rd, 1900." He goes on to give Francis the background history on the matter, saying Smith had wanted stock issued but Possell lacked revenue stamps to issue it; he said Smith could provide the stamps, which he refused to do and then "got very abusive to me and drew a big knife on me and afterwards told Mr. Weicher that if I did not issue that stock he would cut my ---- heart out."
In addition to Possell's lively correspondence, there are meeting reports and other relevant documents relating to the company's enterprises. One letters from May 1902 is written to Francis by a J.B. Knoblock, an entrepreneur and fellow Hoosier, who wishes to sell the company a Boileau Pulverizer machine; his letter includes samples of crushed rock folded into small sleeves of paper. There are also several printed circulars and reports dated after 1908 reporting on the activities of the company. Altogether, this is a tremendous trove of archival documentation recording the activities and travails of a Colorado gold mining operation at the turn of the century, written from one company officer to another. Clearly worthy of further research.