By John J. Creedon
There were no playgrounds or supervised activities in those days. No hotrods or bus service to take us to the ball ground, but we made out alright.
The hills and canyons were our playgrounds and an abandoned mine dump was our ball ground. We lacked the play equipment of today, but we did not lack in enthusiasm or imagination. The boys were pretty good in making guns and many of the boarders at the places in Carr Fork were handy with a knife and would whittle out guns and swords for us.
It was a thrill to catch a ride across some of the shallow gulches and draws the cable line transversed. Some of the braver boys even rode the buckets across Markham Gulch, but I remember one boy who spent about an hour in a bucket suspended over the deepest part of Markham while the tramways was shut down for repairs. We were as scared as he was and didn’t think we would ever see him alive again.
After the tramway was abandoned, we still used the track as a means of transportation across gullies. We would use a bent iron or large bolt and with the iron across the track we would run and lift up our feet and sail over space. One spring a friend of mine lost his grip over Deadhorse Gulch and fell about twenty feet. He fell in deep snow, but hit a tree limb in the snow and broke an arm and leg. For a long time that stopped this form of recreation.
The old abandoned mine shafts and shacks provided an exciting playground and there was always a atmosphere of mystery and excitement in exploring them. We were careful about going too far into these mines as we were warned about the bad air. We used a lantern made from a tin can and a candle inside. The shinny bottom of the can served as reflector and a few nail holes in the top let out the smoke without effecting the flame. If the flame would flicker a bit we would retrace our steps.
There was a gold producing mine in Dixon Gulch when I lived at the B&G. An old Italian named Gardella owned and operated this mine. He was miner, mucker, timberman, assayer, and engineer. He had a small ditch bringing water from far up Dixon to his sluice boxes near the mine entrance and we used to float boats in the little stream. He had a double barreled shotgun and they say he was not afraid to use it on any trespassers. He had a small forge and hand bellows that he used to sharpen his tools. Native oak and maple was used to timber his mine, and it was hardly high enough for a small boy to walk upright in it.
When he left for his native Italy, there were many stories and legends about the amount of gold he took with him and his cabin and mine was searched by many in the hopes of finding his cache of gold. He never returned and no one seemed to know what happened to him.
Far up Dixon across from the U&I Mine there was another mine tunnel, unnamed for some reason, and it was there we had our swimming hole. There was a sizable stream of ice cold water flowing from this mine and we dammed up this mine dump and that was where we paddled around. It was hardly deep enough for swimming, but we had a lot of fun in that old place. The oak brush came down to the edge of the water. The mud in the bottom was about a foot thick and it was great sport to plaster each other with mud. The water was invigorating. I am reminded of these enthusiasts that break the ice to go swimming. We never broke the ice, but the water was only a degree or two from freezing, at least that was my impression.
What a thrill it was to get out of that cold water, hurry and dress and then dash down the mountain in pursuit of Indians and outlaws. What did we do in those days? What did we do for fun? I hope I have let you relive those memorable days in good old Bingham!
CARR FORK — FINN TOWN
By John J. Creedon
|Carr Fork's Finn Town|
Carr Fork was truly Finn Town, for with four or five exceptions, all of the families were of Swedish-Finn extraction, and what fine people they were.
Some years ago, when I read that Finland was the first and possibly the only country to pay its war debt to the United States, I was not too surprised. I knew many of these fine people and saw what price they put on honesty and hard work, characteristics they brought from their homeland.
Nearly half of my playmates in those early days were fatherless, victims of the “miners con”. The underground mines with bad air, dry stopping and few safety measurers took their toll of the young miners, leaving their widows to provide for their families as best they could. In those days there was no Workmen’s Compensation or insurance to help them over the rough spots, but they were resourceful and managed to keep their families intact. Many of them operated boarding houses or worked for others to maintain their homes.
|Swedish/Finn Hall Carr Fork|
I can see now, those miners coming home from the mines in the winter with their clothes frozen stiff and the yellow muck covering their boots and pant legs. There were no change rooms in that day where they could change into dry clothes. No wonder they died in their thirties and forties.
One of the boarders at Johnson’s Boarding House at 75 Carr Fork, John Quist, used to make a cover for our baseball out of an old leather boot. He would soak this leather and when it was sewed and fried out, it made a tough and tight cover that would wear for days, but it was hard on the arm of the pitcher, for it weight a few ounces more than a regulation ball.