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Mining Films Preserved

December 2007

Still image from film MG23 Item 23

Historic mining films from Idaho’s Silver Valley Mining District have been preserved thanks to a 2007 Partnership Grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF) awarded to the University of Idaho Library’s Special Collections & Archives.  The original moving pictures were filmed in 1926 and 1930 by Harry Webb Marsh, a mining engineer employed by the Tamarack and Custer Mining Company of Coeur d’Alene.   Shot with one of the first private motion picture film cameras in Idaho, the films appear to be the earliest known footage of the Bunker Hill and Sullivan Smelter (1926), the Hercules and Hecla operations at Burke and Murray (1926), and the Coeur d’Alene Mines and the Little Sunshine Mine, 1930.  These films are held as part of the Harry Webb Marsh Collection, Manuscript Group 23. 

The film preservation work was donated by Triage Archival Restoration Services, Los Angeles as the official partner of the UI Library, as per the NFPF Partnership Grant guidelines.  The films may be viewed by clicking on the links below, or by viewing on DVD at the Special Collections & Archives. 

MG 23 Item 18:  Hercules and Hecla Surface Plants at Burke, and dredging operations at Murray, March 20, 1926.  These are mostly surface panoramic shots of the mining companies and the surrounding forests.  

MG 23 Item 20:Bunker Hill and Sullivan Smelter, March 16, 1926.  Scenes show houses, railroad yard, a smelter building with smokestack, and a railroad trestle with mountains in the background.  Also a scene showing cast iron kettles capable of holding 100 tons of molten lead. 

MG 23 Item 23:The Coeur d’Alene Mines and the Little Sunshine Mine, 1930.  Aerial views of the Coeur d’Alene Mining District were shot by Marsh from the open window of an airplane.  A scene of some of the miners is entitled “Sourdoughs.” Included is footage of the Tamarack and Custer mines at Dorn, and the Dayrock, Morning, Bunker Hill, and Little Sunshine mines. 

Each of the three Idaho mining films may be viewed by clicking on the titles on the following web page: www.lib.uidaho.edu/special-collections/videos
As there is little formal description of these films other than the title cards, any further positive identification of the people or places in the films is welcome.  Additional information on Harry Webb Marsh and his historic papers may be found within the MG 23 inventory /special-collections/Manuscripts/mg023.htm

 

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