First and Second Graders Explore the Mining History of the Region

The first- and second-grade students kicked off the school year learning about the rich mining history of Telluride. Their Outdoor Education trip began with a beautiful hike on the Keystone Gorge trail, where students discovered old rusty remnants of the mining days. Shortly after, the students visited the Bachelor/Syracuse mine in Ouray. They learned that the mine was initially started by the three Bachelor brothers who were hunting for gold. The tour guide gave students a true sense of what the mine felt like as a miner. Students lifted heavy equipment, stood in total darkness, listened to water trickling all around them, and learned about the parts of a mine and the roles that the miners played in it. 

In the classroom, students made a diagram showing the different parts of a mine and then mined through the ore, searching for pyrite, shark teeth, and crystals. Students learned how to find limestone using vinegar and about igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks.  

On the final day of September, enthusiastic students lugged their overnight bags into the school and prepared for yet another fun-filled day of experiential learning. The class took the Galloping Goose bus into town and enjoyed a nice walk to the Telluride Historical Museum. At the museum, the tour guide, Molly, continued to tell the story of Telluride dating back to the Ute tribes and covering vast information about mining and the history of Telluride. The museum captivated the children with hands-on displays and beautiful photographs. Following the visit to the museum, the students set out to the Lone Tree cemetery, where they enjoyed a peaceful lunch and explored the gravestones. The students realized that many miners were young when they passed away, including many children. The life of a miner came to light as the students read descriptions and carvings, saw entire families buried together, and learned about the mass graves from the Spanish flu.  

At the end of the day, students returned home to have dinner with their families before returning to school for a fun sleepover. Students worked in teams to carve spooky pumpkins, ate an authentic miner's dessert, ran around writing good tidings on classroom whiteboards, and gathered for a fun game of Sardines. In the morning, students practiced yoga and headed outside for bacon, pancakes, and fruit with Mr. Andy.

The trip's final day began with a bumpy, snowy jeep tour up to Tomboy mine, where they saw the bunkhouse at Sheridan mine, the stamp mills, and the town of Tomboy. The students tried to imagine what life must have been like as they saw the remains of family cabins and carts that once pulled ore and supplies. 

At the top of the road, the driver stopped so the students could play in the freshly fallen snow, a perfect ending to a week of experiential learning. 

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