Miners’ Days in Nederland
By Dave Gibson
Like many municipalities in Colorado, Nederland owes its inception to mining. Beginning in 1859, with precious metals being extracted from the surrounding hills, it was a logical choice as a mill center and supply depot for miners. Silver, gold, and tungsten booms, and subsequent busts, ran their courses. Some fortunes were made and innumerable bankrolls lost. Through it all, Nederland endured even if most of the treasure seekers did not.
The Nederland Area Historical Society paid tribute this past weekend to those miners, and way of life, in their hosting of Miners’ Days. In a heartfelt announcement by Single Jack champion Emmit Hoyl, this year’s festivities were dedicated to longtime beloved announcer Dave Felkley whom is battling cancer. His amiable personality, sense of humor, positive attitude, and masterful handling of emcee duties, are greatly missed. Dave is, and always will be, a Nederland institution.
No event represents the old style of mining quite like the Single Jack and Double Jack contests. Muscle and metal against unforgiving solid granite is a seemingly unwinnable scenario. Yet in the past, thousands engaged in the laborious task in hopes of finding a nugget, or more often the case a few flakes to buy supper and return passage with. The resounding rhythmic clink of hand steel being struck by a hammer filled the air. The sledgehammer in the Double Jack required a steady partner with true swing if the holder of the steel bit wanted to retain full use of their hands. After several minutes of intense toil, the rock yielded a small hole a few inches deep.
For the first time ever, men and women shared equally in the prize money. Jesse Pattridge and Jenna Dokken dominated the field winning Men’s All-Around Miner and Women’s All-Around Miner respectfully, along with the $500 prize purses.