COBWEB CORNERS: An interesting job
By Mel McFarland
Some of you have been here long enough to have had relatives who worked in the various gold reduction mills that were here until the 1940s. I had uncles who worked at Golden Cycle, and at the end, so did my father. I was reading a newspaper recently which had a story about the big mine up in Cripple Creek and how it is to work up there. This brought back a few memories that you might be interested in.
About 15 years ago I went on a tour of the Carlton Mill near Victor. The company was just getting into full speed with its "modern" processing. I was surprised to find a friend of mine at the mill. He was a Teller County deputy sheriff and had mentioned that he regularly was assigned to be at the mill when they poured their gold. At the end of the processing, they poured what looks to me like the nose cone of a rocket. In the newspaper I was reading, it was called a Hershey Kiss! From the mill this button is taken away for more refining. At the Golden Cycle Mill, when the gold was finished, it left as a gold brick. It was fully refined and went to the government, packed in a stout wooden box. A gold brick is not something as light as a regular brick, even though it is about the same size.
Back in those days there were several passenger trains a day through Colorado Springs. The mill had developed a system for getting the bricks to the train. One of my uncles liked to tell the story of his trips to the train. He was a welder at the mill, and they had a beat-up old truck that went around to the various shops on the property. Once in a while, a supervisor would send him up to the main office; other times they would just get the keys. On the occasions that he would be allowed to drive, a man with a box would meet him. This very heavy box might go in the back of the truck, or sometimes inside on the floor. From there they would drive to either the Rio Grande or Santa Fe station, and up to the side of the baggage car. The box would be moved right onto the train. It contained the gold brick.
No two transfers were the same, and rarely did they go to the same train. No bricks were ever lost to theft. There was a story that one was misplaced for a while, but it was eventually delivered, slightly late.