A Room for the Summer
Adventure, Misadventure, and Seduction in the Mines of the Coeur D'Alene
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
288 Pages | 6 x 9 | 1 b&w illus.
In A Room for the Summer, Fritz Wolff takes the reader on a memorable journey into the rough-and-tumble world of hardrock mining, recounting his experiences both above and below ground as an apprentice engineer during the late 1950s.
In June 1956, at the age of eighteen, Wolff went to work for the Bunker Hill Company in Kellogg, Idaho, in the Coeur d’Alene region. Arriving in a tired 1939 Chevy coupe, with about twenty dollars in his pocket, Wolff spent three college summers working for Bunker Hill. He learned firsthand the pleasures of camaraderie with fellow workers and the dangers of working underground.
Today the hardrock mining industry is all but forgotten. The Bunker Hill Company is known, not because it produced 430 million ounces of silver and not because it provided a living for thousands of families for more than a century, but because it is one of the largest EPA superfund sites. Wolff does not idealize the mining industry; for many workers the conditions were nightmarish. But in spare, lyrical prose, he evokes the intrinsic goodness of a simpler time, when hardworking folks went about their business with courage, humor, and lots of gumption.