‘Miner’s Rodeo’ Comes to Ouray This Weekend
by Samantha Wright
Aug 23, 2012 | 1970 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print

OURAY – Miners and former miners from throughout Colorado gather in Miner’s Park near the Ouray Hot Springs Pool this weekend for Highgraders Holiday, an annual mining competition that takes place from Aug. 24-26.



It's like a rodeo for miners. Contests showcase skills still used by professional miners today – like drilling, hand-steeling and machine mucking – as competitors vie for major cash prizes, special plaques and the coveted title of All Around Miner.



While most of the events at Highgraders Holiday are open only to experienced miners, a few are open to anyone who would like to compete – with both men’s and women’s categories.



Highgraders Holiday is part of a circuit of Colorado mining contests, including Idaho Springs' Tommyknocker Days, Creede's Days of '92, Nederland's Miners' Days, Leadville's Boom Days, and Silverton's Hardrockers Holiday Mining Contest.



Silverton’s event always precedes Ouray’s by about two weeks. Many of the same competitors and judges participate in both events, highlighting the two communities’ shared mining heritage.



Double-jacking is the most exciting and grueling contest of any mining competition. While one partner takes mighty two-armed swings at the steel head with a long-handled eight-pound hammer, the other holds the steel steady and turns it slightly after each stroke as it descends inch by inch into hard blue granite. It is not unheard of for a competitor to lose a finger to the hammer.



Other events to watch for include single-jacking – as the name implies, a single man takes one-armed swings at a steel with a short-handled, four-pound iron hammer, while turning a drill steel with the other hand a fraction of an inch after each stroke. Machine-mucking and machine-drilling are the noisiest events of the competition.



The Ouray Highgraders is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Ouray’s mining heritage. Donations can be sent to PO Box 1028, Ouray, CO 81427.



Coinciding with Highgrader’s Holidays on Saturday, Aug. 25 is the annual Grillin’ and Chillin’ brew fest in Fellin Park, which finishes up with a fireworks display held over from July 4. There are also a multitude of other events going on in the area this weekend, celebrating Ouray’s rich mining, ranching and cultural heritage.





Highgraders Holidays schedule of events:

All events take place in Ouray Miner’s Park - right next to the Hot Springs Pool and Ouray Visitor Center.



Friday, Aug. 24

4 p.m. Mule race registration, Miner’s Park.

5 p.m. Mule race, downtown Ouray. Course begins and ends at Miner’s Park.



Saturday, Aug. 25

8-9 a.m. Registration

9 a.m. Singleman Drilling

11 a.m. Men’s Handmucking, immediately followed by Women’s Handmucking

1 p.m. Spike Driving

3 p.m. Single Jack Comp.



Sunday, Aug. 26

8-9 a.m. Registration

9 a.m. Team Drilling

11 a.m. Machine Mucking

1 p.m. Double-Jack Comp, followed by awards ceremony



Description of events:



Mule race

Contestants pull mules on leads along a loop course through downtown Ouray. The race starts and ends at Miner’s Park.



Singleman Drilling

One contestant machine-drills two holes with a set-up machine with no breakdown. The fastest driller with no penalties wins.



Handmucking

See who can shovel a barrel full of gravel the fastest.



Spike Driving

A timed event, open to men and women. In the men’s division, a contestant drives 60P spikes upward into a timber and two 80P spikes down into a timber with a timber ax.

Women’s division contestants drive two 60P spikes down into a timber with a timber ax.



Single-jacking

A single man takes one-armed swings at a steel with a short-handled, four-pound iron hammer, while turning a drill steel with the other hand a fraction of an inch after each stroke.



Team Drilling

Teams of two compete against the clock to see which team can get set up and drill two holes the fastest, using both a stopper and a jackleg drill.



Machine Mucking

Single competitors race the clock to see who can fill an ore car in the least amount of time, using a machine mucker. Novices are welcome to give it a try!



Double-jacking

Exciting and grueling ... not to be missed! In this team event, one partner takes powerful two-armed swings at the steel head of a metal spike using a long-handled eight-pound hammer, and the other holds the steel steady and turns it slightly after each stroke as it descends inch by inch into hard blue granite.





swright@watchnewspapers.com

Twitter feed @iamsamwright

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