Activation of Austin Mine – US-CO-ME-AUSTIN

Location Details

6,860′ elevation overlooking the town of Gateway, CO.

The Austin Mine is one of the mines in my area that I knew once existed but had never found.  I thought they had blown up the entrance or dozed it over.  Then almost a year ago I happened down a two track trail that turned into a washed out deer trail and eventually I ran into this missing mine.  On Friday, June 8th, I finally had the chance to fire up the ATV and head out for the mine.

This also turned out to be the 100 Watts and a Wire “Tune Up” weekend.  So I was able to participate in two Ham Radio activities at the same time.

The mine is at an elevation of 6,860′, about a 2,200′ climb from the valley below.  The mine was originally claimed in the early 1940’s and was open about 30 years.  The primary take from the mine was Uranium.

Plymouth 5

Old Plymouth with a 1957 license plate.

The first think I ran into was an old Plymouth that had been abandoned some time ago.  It was a cool reminder of the era during which the mine operated.  The trail had been graded such that it would be hard for a truck to get back there.  Deep trenches across the road with large boulders scattered about.  The primary reason someone has not hauled it off for scrap.  It is on BLM land so if someone did haul it off, they would see federal charges and heavy fines.  Although, that doesn’t stop some people.

No too far past the Plymouth the old mining road turned into a deer trail that would be hard even on a dirt bike.  From there it was only about 1/4 mile hike to the mine.

Mine Field

Grass lands denote the reclamation process in front of the mine entrance.

There is not much to see down at the mine.  This was apparently one of the government clean up sites.  Most everything has been removed as well as any of the extra rock dumped on the side.  If it had any radiation readings above a certain level, it would have been hauled off for disposal.  The last thing they would do is back out of the area on a backhoe and dig holes about 2 feet deep.  This would help mitigate water run off and also collect seeds from local plants to promote growth.  Gives the area an odd look when they are done.  Noted my the lumpy grass area in this image.  Pretty hard to walk through as well.

As with most of the mines, it has been gated off to keep people and animals out.  Although I think the animals are smarter than some people.

Radio setup

Setup and ready for a relaxing day of Ham Radio.

Back where I had to stop with the ATV, I found an nice shady spot under a big Juniper tree and setup for the day.  I setup my Buddistick for 20 meters and dialed it in with an SWR of less than 1.7:1 across 20 meters.  Plugged in my Yaesu FT-891 and Bioenno LifePO4 battery and I was set.  With everything connected I settled into a comfortable chair with my cooler and enjoyed the day.  20 meters was pretty much a mess but I made 6 SSB contacts, all in the US.  Then for the last hour I fired up the Raspberry Pi, Digital Modes To-Go, and ran some FT-8.

Just getting out on the mountain with my ATV and Ham Radio Gear made for a great day.  I packed up about 2pm, just when it was getting hot and my shade had moved on.  It was in the mid 80’s by that time but when I get back to the van down in the valley, it read 99 degrees.  Another good reason to hang out in the mountains.

I encourage you to find some mines in your area.  Get out there and enjoy nature and our hobby.

73, John, WJ0NF

100 Watts ID:  1849

Titus, standing in the front yard, hoping he was going on this trip.

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