The purpose of preparing this treatise on the history of phosphate mining in the Idaho portion of the western phosphate field is two-fold. First, while there have been partial histories written before (Hansen, 1964; Service, 1967), neither covered the complete history of the field; and secondly, this paper was prepared in support of current on-going investigations in the phosphate field. Background material was gathered and research into the history of phosphate mining in southeastern Idaho was initiated while the author was working for the Conservation Division of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), 1972 to 1983. Research consisted of extensive bibliographic studies, examination of the field notes of "old-time" geologists, records of the Conservation Division, land and patent records of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and many interviews with long-experienced phosphate workers and mine superintendents.
After a basic, general discussion of the early history of the area and some of the early phosphate development problems, each mine is discussed in the order of initial development. The discussions include mine (or lease) ownership, history of prospecting and development, actual mining, and mine closure. Discussions of individual mine geology have been held to a minimum, since the geology of the phosphate field has been extensively and expertly covered in many other papers. Also, there is very little discussion about the actual production of each mine. With the early, mostly private mines, production statistics are not available, and with the later mines on Federal lands, the production is proprietary. Anecdotal information was used when available and appropriate to make the whole paper more readable.
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