The following story, printed in the Mountain Messenger fifteen years ago, was written by Hardrock Miner Philip O'Donnell formerly of Alleghany now residing in Heaven.
WHERE IS FREEDOM GOING?
Freedom is being eroded every day in one form or another.
My Grandfather O'Donnell fought for the freedom of Ireland. It caught up with him and his brother. They had to run for their lives. My Grandfather was a stowaway on a ship that landed in New York; his brother landed in New Zealand.
Now, who would believe freedom in the U.S.A. is at stake? Each and every one of us someday must stand and be counted. Ask yourselves this question, "Could we elect to go to Heaven if we sold out our children left to come?" I, personally feel America is dormant, sleeping and ignoring what is going on!
Some will say, "Why worry? It can't happen here in the 'Good Old U.S.A.'. We are the most powerful nation on earth." Some will say, "Don't rock the boat-we have a good job, nice car and home, and our bellies are full." If we don't wake up, it will someday be too late when we do.
In fact, we will be in total slavery without a shot being fired!
What did the mining class of people do for America? The miners saved the U.S.A. in the Civil War against the South by mining the wealth of the Comstock Lode. This wealth also helped build California although it came from our neighboring state of Nevada. Nevada is now having a war and a hell of a time continuing to mine. The B.L.M. is at fault.
Here in California, we not only have the same problem with the B.L.M. but with the U.S.F.S. and others. Now they want the surface rights; later it will be the mineral rights.
If they win, in time, there will come government-owned mines (you will work for them). If they don't win now, the least you can expect is to pay royalties to the government on what you mine.
People of America: Don't you know the line between the cost of operating and profit is a very thin line? When the government moves in, you won't have a profit - so why mine?
Now look around you. Where do you get that car, appliances, etc., if not on the shoulders of the mining-class of people? If we want to continue to enjoy these luxuries, we all must write to our representatives, from the local level to Washington, D.C., asking them to not change the 1872 Mining Laws. The 1872 Mining Laws are to the miners what the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are to each of us. Don't let this law be nibbled at or changed.
Let's get to, "What is a miner?" What kind of person is he? The old saying is, "Once a miner - always a miner."
This is true, and it's too bad each of us cannot have the pleasure of mining underground for six months; everyone would have a different viewpoint. There is nothing on earth that will keep you spellbound, with so much enthusiasm and interest, as what the next round (dynamite shots fired) will bring.
Have you ever wondered what it is like to see a jewelry shop that nature created? With fresh-broken rock full of gold and the glory of seeing this, you hesitate to look on the other side of the muck pile for fear it will be more beautiful than what you just saw. No matter where the light shines, it sparkles and glitters back at you stronger than a million diamonds of all shapes and sizes. It is like seeing the aurora Borealis as this rainbow comes to life.
Oh, what a thrill, and I mean - what a thrill!!! Now the beauty ends as the miner had his pleasure. It's all over- the miner goes on to seek another jewelry shop, as each one is different. It's like judging for the winner of a female beauty contest. When they all are so beautiful, which one really did win? This all happened to me many times in many different mines. I just turned 18 years old when I first went to work in a mine. My Uncle John broke me in; he is well known in Sierra County for his mining activities. I mined twenty-four years as a miner and three years as a tunnel stiff (a different form of mining).
Now, I ask all of you: "Where is freedom of mining going?" What chance do miners have to continue to mine with the B.L.M., U.S.F.S., Fish and Game, the Environmentalists, the Ecologists, and the do-gooders all taking a crack at the miners?
What determines a prudent miner? Well, in my case, it took nearly eight years to make a strike of $280,000 with the Mint receipts to prove it - one jewelry shop after another.
Let's forget, at present, the terrible awful plight of the miner and look to where "freedom" is eroded. What happened to our money when we took gold out of it? Also, our schools - where did the 3 R's go to, and what is being substituted? And, what about our farmers and cattlemen? Are they getting a fair share? Last but not least- what bout the Federal Reserves and International Monetary System - where is it leading us? We have the right under Congress and the Constitution to print our own money. Let's do it and go on the gold standard!
In closing, freedom is never free. We have to fight to keep it. Wake up! Wake up America before it is too late!
A Hardrock Miner