I work in a gold mine…

…live in a historic mining town and married into a family that has been mining turquoise around Tonopah for three generations. Mining has changed a lot since Tonopah’s silver boom but it’s still hard and dangerous work. Safety is a big deal.

As a mobile maintenance welder I work on equipment and haul trucks at Round Mountain Gold Mine. It’s an open pit mine, getting bigger by the day—it’s a really big hole! The equipment used to dig is also huge—the shovels and front end loaders are electric-powered, the biggest that Caterpillar makes. You don’t ever see the gold, it’s microscopic. Just dirt and rocks.

My wife’s grandfather came here from Colorado to mine turquoise. The Otteson family is known around the world for the turquoise they mine in Tonopah. They can sniff it out, like a hound dog, dig down and find it almost every time. The turquoise here is mostly in open pits. You drill and blast, get the top dirt off. If there’s a pit you can’t get equipment to, you have to dig in with a pickaxe and shovels. Now that’s some hard work!

T. J. Ladner, Mobile Maintenance Welder, Kinross Round Mountain Gold Corporation

Click here for the next story in the Find Your Folklife Exhibit