The problem of successfully and satisfactorily draining the Cripple Creek district is proving to be a rather complex affair; for although it was announced early in July that Mr. A. C. Jaquith had taken steps to secure a site for the proposed tunnel and that practically all of the $750,000 necessary for its construction had been raised, we find it necessary almost ninety days later to chronicle the fact that considerable disagreement exists as to the best method of draining the district and that in consequence nothing has been done.
The latest advices indicate that the Mine Owners' Association has retained Mr. D. W. Brunton to assist them in agreeing upon a satisfactory solution of the problem.
That an immediate necessity exists for drainage is now generally admitted, and certainly no one with any foresight will contest the future need of some system of disposing of the water which is coming to be a source of annoyance and expense.
As the mines attain greater depth, the difficulty will increase, so that the drainage problem is vitally connected with the future of the district.
It has been suggested that in lieu of a drainage tunnel, a pumping system might be installed which would readily solve the problem. As to the feasibility of the pumping project there can be no question from the purely engineering point of view.
Mammoth pumping plants of enormous capacity are known to be in successful operation for the drainage of a series of mines. Pumping millions of gallons daily from depths of 2,000 feet is an achievement of engineering which shows the possibilities of the system.
In Tasmania is a single plant capable of handling 8,000,000 gallons daily from 2,000 feet depth.
In the Butte district pumping is successfully used for draining a large number of mines which are connected in their lower levels. And so it might be in Cripple Creek.
But the realization of such a scheme would require the unanimity of the various owning companies, the connection of many mines in their lower levels, and the installation of an expensive plant, the maintenance of which would be a considerable item.
As to the scheme of utilizing the pumped water for the generation of power which in turn could be used to pump more water, we prefer to turn it over to some of those inventive geniuses who besiege the patent office with schemes for perpetual motion.
It smacks somewhat of the proposition to raise one's self over an obstacle by his boot straps, and numerous other physical problems of like character.
It appears, however, that the engineering problems are not the only ones involved in the solution of the matter. If the mines of Cripple Creek were altogether or largely owned by one company, so that unanimous action could be taken in the interests of economy and efficiency alone, then would a large obstacle be removed.
Regardless of whether a pumping or tunnel scheme be decided upon there are so many individual interests to be satisfied that it will be difficult to please all concerned. This is not to intimate that the mine owners are guilty of putting personal interest above the future general good of the district, but that there are certain very natural personal desires which enter into the problem.
To illustrate: Suppose that the tunnel scheme is finally settled upon as being the best, all things considered. There will then remain the necessity of selecting the site, and, right at this point personal interest will assert itself.
It will require two years or more to drive the tunnel, and naturally the different interests concerned will want it run in such a way that they will receive immediate benefit from it and not have to wait two years for it to reach their property.
Manifestly it is not possible to thus satisfy all concerned. There are probably two feasible sites and routes for such a tunnel at Cripple Creek and there is accordingly some division of opinion as to the most acceptable one.
Those in closest proximity to one site will favor it and a similar favoritism will be shown by those soonest to be benefited provided the other site is chosen.
As to the respective merits of the two plans, we believe the Mine Owners' Association has done wisely to seek expert counsel on the subject, and we have no doubt that their final decision will be based on sound judgment and will be for the general good of the district.
As cited above the installation of a pumping plant will give some immediate relief, but involves many underground connections, a considerable outlay for equipment and a constant expense for maintenance.
Opposed to this we have the tunnel project, which would require some time to complete, but which would ultimately give good service with probably no expense for maintenance.
While the latter fact would not be true in all cases, we believe that from the nature of the formations in this district that a tunnel would entail absolutely no maintenance expense.
We look forward with considerable interest to the result of Mr. Brunton's investigations and the decision that will be based on them.