Western Museum of Mining and Industry (WMMI) is an organization that works to preserve the mining history of the western United States. The 27 acre facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado contains over 5,000 mining-related artifacts.
The photos in this post represent just a small part of the numerous fascinating exhibits at this incredible facility.
Pictured below is a Corliss steam engine – the WMMI building was built around this massive machine. Invented by George Corliss and built in 1895. It was in operation at a Massachusetts paper mill from 1910 until 1973. The 17-ton flywheel rotated at 100rpm and produced 500hp.
A 3′ wide, 180′ in circumference belt was driven by the flywheel. The belt subsequently turned a wheel and line shaft system that powered other machinery at the mill. The museum operates this with the use of an electric motor.
A Compressed air trammer is on display in the photo below. There were two styles of trammer, a corporate style, with a tank that could hold 750-1000 psi, and a mining trammer (100 psi tank).
Corporate trammers tended to be used above ground or on an incline to haul ore out from the mine. Mining trammers were used below ground to move ore carts.
Air compressors were invented in the 1820s during the First Industrial Revolution. The WMMI’s air compressor is a 1920 Ingersoll-Rand.
They are powered off a wheel and line shaft system and the piston chamber is used to generate the air, which is then used to pressurize the tanks. Compressed air was used mining to power rock drills and trammers.
The following photo shows a mine hoist on display. This single drum hoist would lower men and supplies into the mine, and raise ore out.
The assay office was an important institution in most mining camps. Prospectors brought ore samples from their strikes to the nearest assay office to be tested for precious metals. The following photo shows the simulated assay office on display at WMMI.
The next two images are a melting furnace from the Golden Cycle mill in Colorado Springs and an electrical generator.
Also on display are impressive machines from other areas of the US, including this Cornish beam engine that dates back to around 1840. Powered an ore crushing mill and de-watered a mine. The engine was used at the Vaucluse Mine near Fredricksburg, VA.
The grounds at WMMI are located on the grounds of the historic Reynolds Ranch House. The house is intact and available for tours by appointment.
Also on the grounds are a blacksmith shop and this fully operational stamp mill that they fire up during special events a couple times a year. Stamp mills were used to pulverize ore from the mines.
This 10-stamp mill was built by museum staff in 1978 using construction methods from the 1800s. Much of the equipment inside came from the Yellow Jacket Mill that was located in Montezuma, Colorado.
Western Museum of Mining and Industry is one of the West’s premier mining preservation organizations and is well worth a visit if you are in Colorado. To learn more visit their website at WMMI.org.