The Mining Settlements

I pulled this out at random from an article by R.H. Kinvig. What do you think?


Contributed by R. H. KINVIG, M.A.,
Professor of Geography, University of Birmingham,
[extracted from Proc IoMNHASoc vol. 5 no 4 pp436/455 1955. (c) estate of RH Kinvig] 

It has been said that ‘wherever there’s a hole in the ground, there you will find a Laxey or a Foxdale man’, and an illustration of the general truth of this statement has already been given in connection with the former lead mining area in Wisconsin. The skill which many natives of the Island acquired in mining was the result of a long tradition in the working of lead and silver, particularly at Laxey and Foxdale and other centres, and to a lesser extent in iron and copper mining at Maughold and Langness. The migration of these men to various parts of the earth — especially America, Canada and other parts of the British Commonwealth — was the inevitable consequence of the gradual decay of Manx mining during the second half of the nineteenth century coupled with radical changes in agriculture affecting the upland areas where crofting had often been combined with mining.
Some of the most characteristic American mining centres where Manxmen are still found are along the line of the Rockies in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, and Arizona. It was to such places that many Laxey and Foxdale men began to go in the ‘eighties and ‘nineties of last century, and they could be seen periodically in Douglas with their ten-gallon hats and huge silver watches when returning for a ‘sight home’ from the gold and silver mines of Colorado, and the copper mines of Montana. Colorado at one time attracted many Manxmen, notably in such areas as Cripple Creek, within sight of Pikes Peak, where fabulous amounts of gold were discovered in the 1890’s and for several decades later. Then came the usual decline and many smaller workings ceased during the second World War with the result that most of the surviving Manx miners went to newer mines such as Bisbee in Arizona. The latter is now regarded as one of the continent’s richest copper-producing districts, and its Manx element is sufficiently strong to enable it to have a branch of the North American Manx Association. In the northern Rockies, Montana has been a famous producer of copper for eighty years or so, principally in the Butte area, whose site has earned the description of being ‘the richest hill on earth’ while silver, gold, lead and zinc are also worked. Among the many Manxmen who went there in the earlier years of this century was Wilson Jenkinson, a Foxdale miner, whose great-grandfather came from the English Lake District. After working for a period in Montana he moved to Washington, D.C., and was employed in the United States Government services for many years before his death in the spring of 1854. He devoted much time and thought for the benefit of Manx people in North America, and he was untiring in his efforts on behalf of North American Manx Association membership.
In the Great Lakes region the iron mines of northern Michigan, as at Ishpeming, Marquette and Iron River, have attracted a number of Manx miners, and this fact helps to explain the relatively high position held by that State regarding its membership of the N.A.M.A. Something approaching a quarter of the people recorded are from the mining areas, and about a half of the total are accounted for by the great industrial city of Detroit.