The mountains above Idaho Springs and the nearby communities of Black Hawk, Central City and Georgetown show the abandoned mine openings and remnants of a romantic past: the "Rush to the Rockies" and feverish mining for silver and gold.
The Edgar mine, the Colorado School of Mines Experimental Mine, is a footnote to that era. In the 1870s, it produced high-grade silver, gold, lead and copper. Today, as an underground laboratory for future engineers, it produces valuable experience for those who are being trained to find, develop, and process the world's natural resources.
The CSM Mining Engineering Department is proud of the Edgar Experimental Mine and the purposes it serves: educational tours for the public and school groups; cooperation with industry, state, and federal organizations in research; and training of the manpower needed to maintain the nation's leadership in the field of mineral engineering. Industry is highly supportive of the research and educational programs at the mine. In fact, most of the equipment used at the mine is donated by individual businesses and corporations.
An Underground Classroom
The Edgar Experimental Mine provides CSM students in Mining Engineering and other disciplines with a unique environment for research and practical training in mining techniques and systems. In this underground laboratory, CSM students gain hands-on experience in underground mine surveying, geological mapping, rock fragmentation and blasting practice, mine ventilation field studies, rock mechanics instrumentation practice, underground mine unit operations, and mine safety. Through a course in the practical use of mining equipment, students can apply classroom exercises to real situations in a realistic mining environment . The course runs the full cycle of underground mining operations, and includes hands-on experience with drilling, blasting, and mucking (loading blasted rock) using both rail mounted and rubber-tired mining equipment. By the completion of the course students have earned safety credentials in underground mining from an MSHA certified mine safety training instructor.
Although the Edgar Experimental Mine is managed and operated by the Mining Engineering Department, students from other disciplines have the opportunity to interact with the mine through projects in both EPICS and Senior Design. Examples in recent years include: Documentation and Design of a Mine Water Distribution Network for the Edgar Experimental Mine, Design of a Power Distribution Network of the Edgar Experimental Mine Army Adit, Modifications to the Surface Drainage Network for the Edgar Experimental Mine, Design of a Compressor Installation for the Edgar Experimental Mine Army Adit.
Research is carried out on a continuing basis at the Edgar Experimental Mine. Numerous academic, government, and industry groups, including the CSM Mining Engineering Department, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the U.S. Army, Rocktek Inc., and others participate in cooperative research ventures at the facility. Studies include tunnel detection, blasting, rock mechanics, and development of new mining equipment and methods.
Industrial Outreach Programs
The CSM Mining Engineering Department conducts a comprehensive industrial outreach program, including mine rescue training, for the mining industry. Collaborators include the Colorado Division of Minerals and Geology (CDMG) and the Western Mining Resource Center (WMRC).
Edgar Mine Rescue Training Program
The Mining Engineering Department – Mine Safety and Health Program operates a full function mine rescue training facility for use by the mining industry. Mine rescue training can be developed and tailored to the specific needs of any mining operation. Special training can be conducted for mine operators to address the individual needs of virtually any mine. Our rescue training includes:
- Incident Command for Mine/Underground emergencies
- Comprehensive Mine and Underground Search and Rescue
- Computer rescue simulation training
- General Heavy Lifting and Rescue using air bags
- Confined space rescue training
- Rope rescue training
- Mine firefighting
Facilities available at the mine include: a 30-person classroom with audio/visual equipment, rope rescue equipment, a confined space training maze, artificial smoke (non-toxic) generating equipment, burn barrels, gas testing equipment, rescue apparatus bench facilities for Draeger BG-4 and BG-174 breathing apparatus, and other specialized mine rescue equipment. The facility has been utilized by Barrick Gold, Doe Run, Sumitomo’s Pogo mine, the Seattle Fire Department, the United States Army, and others. There are user and training fees associated with use of the facilities to defray the cost of facilities operation and improvements.
The Mining Engineering Department (MSHP) offers a full mine safety and rescue training program with MSHA certified instructors. Courses can be conducted either on-site at the Edgar Mine or at mine sites anywhere within the United States. For more information or to schedule mine rescue training, please visit the Mine Safety and Health training page at: http://mshp.mines.edu/MSH-training-courses
The Mining Engineering Department (MSHP) collaborates with the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety to conduct Mine Emergency Response Development exercises, mine rescue contests, and other training. More information regarding the State of Colorado’s training programs is available at their website: CDMG Mine Safety Training Program
Students and staff at the mine conduct guided tours for the general public throughout the year. Tours generally last one hour, but can be tailored to accommodate some special requests. More than one-half mile of underground workings representing over 100 years of mine development are covered on the tour. Lighted displays showing drilling, blasting, and mucking equipment are displayed on the mine tour and items of discussion include mining practice, mining economics, and the role of the mining industry in modern society. The mine is usually relatively dry and a constant 54 degrees Fahrenheit, year-round. CSM provides hard hats for tour members, but guests are asked to wear warm clothing and sturdy walking shoes. Sorry, but the mine is not wheelchair accessible.
Children (6-16) $6.00
*subject to change
Groups (by appointment) $10.00 Adults and $4.00 Children
How to Find the Edgar Mine
The Edgar mine is located in Idaho Springs, approximately 40 miles west of Denver. It can be reached by Interstate 70 or U.S. 6.
Take I-70 W towards Idaho Springs
Take exit number 240, turn right (north) at the top of the exit ramp, proceed 2 blocks to Colorado Boulevard
Turn Left (west) onto Colorado Boulevard, proceed to 8th Avenue
Turn Right (north) onto 8th Avenue
The mine is at the top of the hill.
Edgar Experimental Mine
365 8th Avenue, PO Box 1184
Idaho Springs, CO 80452
Phone: (303) 567-2911
Staff Contact Information
Mine Foreman: Clinton Dattel
Laboratory Director: Matt Schreiner