First, let me apologize for taking so long to get this out. Between work and being sick, I just haven't been able to move on to the next chapter of our little story. Onward!
In the previous posting, we left off at the end of what remains of Burke's Commercial District. Thus far, nearly all of the photos that I've shown have been of homes, buildings, vacant lots and hillsides located on the left side of street that runs right through the middle of the town. Are you curious to know what the rest of Burke looks like? Of course you are...
Remember that I mentioned that a stream...Canyon Creek...runs through the center of town? Well...what I'm about to show you is located just on the other side of the street...and the creek. The photo shown above...has the creek running under a small bridge that leads to...a particularly fascinating place...that we'll discuss after I provide a little local history.
As I've mentioned, this part of Northern Idaho is famous for Logging and Mining. Burke came to be due to the natural mineral resources located in this part of the state. In particular, the area contains an abundance of lead and silver deposits. Mining continues in the area surrounding Burke...albeit at a much diminished level from it's heyday. Mining does not currently take place in Burke. Remember that as we go forward...
Back in the late 1800's, bookkeeper Henry L. Day and prospector Fred Harper founded Day Mines, Inc.. These two entrepreneurs discovered the famous Hercules Silver Mine...located in Burke, Idaho. Mr. Day and Mr. Harper had other investors in this enterprise. August Paulsen, one of Spokane, Washington's more interesting businesspeople became a quarter-owner of the mine early on. Husband and wife Levi and May Hutton provided additional investment during those start-up years.
Interestingly, the investors are reputed to have been pro-union during the time of the Mining Wars of the late 1890's. As mentioned during the Pt. 2 Blog Posting (remember the destruction of the Frisco Mill?), this was a very tumultuous time...with mine workers and mine owners at violent odds with each other. There are a lot of stories surrounding that particular time period, though I don't personally know how many are true...and how many are wild tales. It is suspected that some of the investors in the Hercules mine were involved in the explosion of the Bunker Sullivan mine. Some sources claim that Mr. Hutton was the train engineer that delivered dynamite used to blow the mine up. There is some debate as to whether he was forced to do that...or did so willingly.
One of the early investors in the Hercules mine was a man named Harry Orchard. As a 1/16th owner, he was a minority player...though he is perhaps the most infamous of the mine's participants. Why? Well... first of all, this individual's real name wasn't "Harry Orchard"; it was Albert Horsley. Originally born a Canadian, Mr. Horsley moved to Michigan to work as a logger. In 1889, he moved back to Canada, got married and had a daughter. During this time, he worked as a cheese-maker. As the story goes, he lived beyond his means and was in debt over his head. Eventually, Mr. Horsley burned his cheese factory to "settle" his debts. He abandoned his wife and daughter and fled west with another woman. Supposedly this romantic tryst wasn't long lived...
Horsley's path west lead to Spokane, Washington...and, ultimately, to Wallace, Idaho. During this time, he was employed driving a milk wagon. He saved his money and by 1897, he was able to become a minority partner in the Hercules operation. By 1898, he had to sell his shares of the mine to pay gambling debts that he had accumulated. So far...his part of the tale indicates that he was a scoundrel...but none of his activities to this point were noteworthy enough to put his name in headlines. Ah yes...but that would soon change...
On December 30, 1905, Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg was killed by a bomb rigged to the gate of his house. At the time, Horsley/Orchard was going by the name of Tom Hogan. A mine detective recognized Horsley as being named "Orchard" and not "Hogan"...and a search of Horsley's motel room produced evidence that he was involved in the assassination of the Governor. A Pinkerton detective named James McPharland worked the case and received a confession from Horsley, though not only for the Governor's murder...but also that of at least sixteen other people! During the confession, Horsley claimed that the murder of the Govenor was a conspiracy...with the act being ordered by three leaders of the Western Confederation of Miners. The leaders ended up going to trial...but were found innocent. As for Mr. Horsley...he was found guilty...and spent the remainder of his life behind bars. With the end of this little sub-story about Horsley/Orchard/Hogan tied up, let's get back to the Hercules Silver Mine...
Even with multiple investors, the Day Mines company was fairly cash poor...so mining was primarily done by hand. In spite of this slow and back-breaking method, the operation eventually hit a high-grade ore vein and became one of the nation's primary mines (producing roughly 6% of the country's lead). The mine closed in 1925, though it served to make it's investors reasonably wealthy.
Shortly after it's closure, the mine was purchased by the Hecla Mining Corporation, a large conglomerate with operations in multiple states. It served as the primary mine of the company for a number of years. As a well-funded company, Hecla was able to apply resources and technology to the operation at a level that the owners of Day Mines could not. The mine grew to employ hundreds upon hundreds of people...and became the very economic lifeblood of Burke, Idaho. The photos that I'm about to show you are of the Hecla-owned operation.
The photo shown above is of a tower that, literally, is located immediately to the right of the main street. Just the base of the tower is shown...it extends upward for a good measure...as shown in the photo below.
The photo located above provides a little better view...to help you understand just how big of a building we are talking about. The railroad tracks ran through the buildings and under the tower...as you can see from exit at the bottom of the picture.
All this...and much, much more...line a substantial section of the right-hand side of Burke's main (and only) street. Hundreds of people were employed here...making a living for themselves and their families...providing the town with a hustling and bustling abundance of LIFE. Again, keep in mind that this was Hecla Mining Corporation's primary mine...and we're not talking small beans here. This was a MAJOR mining operation.
Once again, we're out of time and space. So...join me for Part 5...where I'll show you more of the Hecla operation...and regale you with a little more history of the town of Burke!
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