The first person in this series is George H Robinson.
Robinson was the person responsible for turning the copper discovery of Britannia into an operating mine. For more on this story, follow this link.
Britannia was but the last accomplishment in a long, storied, career.
Born in Ohio around 1850, George H. Robinson moved west in 1878 to work as an engineer for the Santa Fe Railway. By 1880 he was employed mapping underground mine workings for the Leadville silver mines of Colorado (in 1880 one of the world’s largest mining camps). After a couple years there, he moved to Montana, where he went to work managing the Drum Lummon gold mine, which had just been purchased by the Montana Company. He worked in Montana until 1893, when he left for Utah. In Utah, he organized the Tintic Mining Company and managed its Yampa mine, located in Bingham Canyon. While managing this company, he also acted as chief consulting engineer to Fritz Heinze.
During his years with Heinze, he was associated with one of the greatest mining battles of the time – the ‘Battle for Butte’, which shaped the future of mining in Butte and elsewhere. On one side of this battle, was Heinze. On the other was Marcus Daly and Anaconda. In simple terms, the battle was about who had the mineral rights. Under the US Apex law, if a continuous deposit breached the surface of the land on your claim (or apexed on it), then the entire deposit, no matter where it ran, was yours.
The issue is determining if a mineral deposit is continuous or not.
The battle tied up the Montana courts and Butte mines for years, before Anaconda eventually bought out Heinze. One outcome of the battle was a tremendous advancement in the knowledge of the Butte area, and of the geologic skills necessary to map deposits. For Robinson, it further established his expertise in geologic mapping. It is following his relationship with Heinze that he established the Britannia Mine.
The mining world is small. It is perhaps poetic that our Mine was eventually purchased by the same company that Robinson was engaged in the battle for Butte with.
The story of Robinson’s connection to Britannia runs deeper than the battle of butte, however. Yampa, one of Robinson’s other mining ventures, has an association with two other storied people of Britannia fame – Grant B Schley and John Wedderburn Dunbar Moodie.
Our story continues with Schley.
In the time of COVID-19, when our lives have been turned upside down, it can help to reflect on what has gone before, in order to find hope for what may come.