The Hard Life of a Miner

Digging In: Bisbee’s Mineral Heritage is a state-of-the-art mining exhibit beautifully crafted by Smithsonian designers. You’ll enter through a changehouse before winding through an underground mine rich with minerals, a crystal cave, and the history of hard-rock miners who blasted, drilled, and mucked more than 2,000 miles of tunnels through the surrounding mountains. As past meets present, you then segue into today’s world of open-pit mining, where new technologies address challenges posed by a high-demand marketplace and low-grade ore.

The electrification of America that commenced in the early 1880s continues to make it possible for distant power plants to energize our computers, televisions, and countless other tools and technologies. Digging In tells a story that affects all our lives, with the goal of challenging long-held perceptions about our role in copper’s story. All of us are dependent on products that use copper. If you want to know what life would be like without copper, think about the last time your electric power went out!

Digging In interweaves the complex stories of how society’s demand for copper impacted the history of copper mining in the West, the story of how a western mining community responded to that demand, and how its response has shaped our national history.

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