Exploring Washington State’s gold mines

It was an incredible opportunity.

During my time in Wenatchee, finding radio work was quite challenging, so I had to take on various “in between” jobs. I worked at Mann & Ferrington, which is now known as Northern Fruit and located on Grant Road in East Wenatchee. Another job I had was at Belmont Music, which has transformed into a large antique mall. I also worked at C & O Nursery. However, the most unique and interesting job I had was working for The Cyprus Mining Company.

The Cyprus Mines Corporation, an American mining company based in Cyprus, was acquired by Amoco Corporation in 1979. Amoco then expanded Cyprus into a diversified worldwide mining company. According to Wikipedia, Cyprus Mines purchased the mineral options of the Lovitt gold mine situated up Squilchuck Canyon, which was initially staked in the 1890s.

In 1949, Ed Lovitt entered the picture after the property had changed hands multiple times. Lovitt brought in contract miners who had the opportunity to share in the profits. It was in 1959 when these miners stumbled upon a remarkably rich pocket of ore known as “Nellie’s Room,” which was contained within a room measuring 15x15x20 feet. The total value of gold and silver extracted from this discovery amounted to approximately $40 million in today’s currency. However, before any payouts could be distributed to the miners, the company was raided by the IRS, ensuring that the appropriate federal tax deductions were made.

Cypress Anvil took over the property after the mine ceased operations in late 1966 and dedicated approximately three years to conducting gold exploration in the region.

When I landed a job as an “exploratory geologist,” I had zero knowledge about mining or geology. However, my main qualifications were an absence of fear towards darkness, a comfort with confined spaces, and a willingness to work underground.

In our pairs, we were assigned specific spots in the tunnel (or drift) by the foreman. Our task was to create a horizontal channel, about two inches wide and one inch deep, extending six to eight feet long and positioned approximately three feet above the floor. One of us would use a hammer and chisel, while the other would be responsible for collecting the chips in a plastic container.

For approximately three months, I engaged in this task until the job concluded. Subsequently, during the following spring, I was rehired to supervise a core drilling crew. My primary responsibility involved meticulously documenting the crew’s activities, including the depth they reached, the number of drill bits utilized, and meticulously cataloging the core samples obtained.

In 1966, when the Lovitt Mine closed, the price of gold was around $360.00 per ounce. When Cyprus Mining acquired the mine, gold was valued at approximately $650.00 per ounce. During the early 1980s, when the Cannon Mine was optioned, gold prices reached an all-time high of $2,200.00 per ounce. Currently, the gold market is fluctuating around $2,100.00 per ounce.

In the late 1980s and early 90s, the Cannon Mine, which was adjacent to the Lovitt Mine, achieved a remarkable feat by producing approximately 1.1 million ounces of gold. When combined, the Lovitt and Cannon Mines generated over $2 Billion in gross revenue, taking into account today’s gold price.

Working in that role may not have been the most glamorous, but it did help me cover some of my expenses and bridge the gap until my next opportunity in radio came along.

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MBS Staff
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