By CHANSE WATSON
OSBURN — With an area such as the Silver Valley where one particular profession has been a staple of the community for more than a century, it’s only natural for competition to bubble-up and people to wonder who is the best at that profession.
The closest residents can come to seeing this locally is by attending the annual Coeur d’Alene District Mining Contest.
The 32nd iteration of the contest was held on Saturday at it’s traditional home at Gene Day Park in Osburn and organizers were pleased with what they saw.
“Things went wonderfully this year,” said Guy Sande, contest committee secretary. “We saw a significant increase in contestants, which is what we had been hoping for after a weak turnout last year.”
The grassy viewing area was full of spectators who watched the 26 adult and numerous child competitors attempt to one-up each other throughout the various mining-themed events.
Miners in the adult mens division competed in four timed events — Hand Mucking (contestant shovels gravel into an ore car), Spike Driving (contestant hammers two 80p spikes overhead into a 12-by-12 cap and three 60p spikes down into a 12-by-12 timber), 12B Machine Mucking (contestant uses a compressed air-powered rail-mounted mucking machine to fill an ore car) and Single Jackleg (contestant must drill two separate 4-foot deep holes into a concrete block). There is also a Team Jackleg event in which two miners each drill a 4-foot hole, swapping between a single jackleg machine.
Competitors who sign up for all four solo events are eligible to win the title of “All-Around Miner,” which recognizes the miner who places highest in all four events combined. Points corresponding to their final placing in an event are added together at the end of the competition and the individual with the lowest score is declared the winner.
This year’s title went to Matt Karst, who finished with 8 total points. Karst took first place in Hand Mucking with a time of 1:07.40 and finished top three in the other competitions.
Byron Bratton was the runner-up to Karst for the title, finishing with 14 total points. Bratton took first place in 12B Hand Mucking and Single Jackleg with a finishing time of 0:56.13 and 2:07.51, respectively. Bratton’s first-place finishes were hindered by lower placings in the other two events, which affected his final score.
The team of Corey Reed and Tom Thompson walked away with first place in Team Jackleg, finishing in 2:13.46.
In the women’s division, lady miners go head-to-head in separate Hand Mucking and Spike Driving events.
Out of four competitors, Lynsey McCarver took the Hand Mucking event with a final time of 0:56.16 and Nadine Clark took Spike Driving with a time of 0:29.66.
At the end of the contest, kids are invited to compete in their own Hand Mucking and Spike Driving events to win silver coins, as well as cash prizes.
Sandy was happy to see a large number of first-time participants intermixed with the old hands and regulars for the main events. What was really big though was the number of kids who came.
“This year may have been our best turnout ever for the kids events,” he said. “For the contest to survive as long as it has since 1984, we must attract each new generation of miners. We expect some year soon one of our regular competitors will be old enough after first competing as a kid.”
Historically, competitors primarily come from the local mines, but out-of-state competitors from Nevada, Montana, Oregon or Alaska have also been known to attend.
The event itself began in 1984 to commemorate the Wallace Centennial and has been consistently supported by the community in its active years.
“Committee members such as Randy Leetch, Doug Bayer, Joe Zanetti and Mark Bren were key individuals making certain the event happened this year,” Sandy said. “But arguably, it is the generous donations of our local sponsors such as Northwest Mine Supply, U.S. Silver, Zanetti Bros. and Mike’s Specialty Welding who make the Mining Contest possible.”
The 2019 Coeur d’Alene District Mining Contest top finalists are as follows.
Information is organized by placing, name, employer and points or finishing time.
All Around Miner:
1st — Matt Karst, Stillwater, 8 points
2nd — Byron Bratton, Lucky Friday, 14 points
3rd — Jason Bauer, Galena, 20 points
1st — Matt Karst, Stillwater, 1:07.40
2nd — Vincent Lee, F&H Mine Supply, 1:08.53
3rd — Jason Bauer, Galena, 1:08.80
1st — Corey Reed, Galena, 0:36.47
2nd — Matt Karst, Stillwater, 0:38.05
3rd — Dan Clark, Nadine, 0:56.42
12B Machine Mucking:
1st — Byron Bratton, Lucky Friday, 0:56.13
2nd — Levi Duncan, Galena, 1:06.00
3rd — Matt Karst, Stillwater, 1:08.13
1st — Byron Bratton, Lucky Friday, 2:07.51
2nd — Matt Karst, Stillwater, 2:17.28
3rd — Dave Day, Galena, 2:19.86
1st — Corey Reed and Tom Thompson, 2:13.46
2nd — Vincent Lee and Byron Bratton, 2:13.72
3rd — Jason Bauer and Jonathan Bauer, 2:15.33
1st — Lynsey McCarver, Galena, 0:56.16
2nd — Elizabeth Reed, Galena, 1:05.88
3rd — Tina Karst, Kellogg School District, 1:09.13
Women’s Spike Driving:
1st — Nadine Clark, Dan, 0:29.66
2nd — Lynsey McCarver, Galena, 0:41.05
3rd — Elizabeth Reed, Galena, 0:47.10