By Beth Dodd:
Mining engineer, historian, and author Ed Hunter passed away earlier this summer on July 7th. The long-time Victor resident was in his chair looking out the bay window of his home when his heart gave out. He was 87 years old, and was well-thought of by his friends, family, and colleagues.
Hunter’s home was filled with his collection mining memorabilia, including a well-used lunch box, tools, photographs and books, all to be donated to the Victor Lowell Thomas Museum. Hunter was one of the museum’s biggest supporters and a dedicated volunteer. He is remembered there as a great historian and friend, and an inspiration to everyone. “When I think of my dad, his two big loves were my mom and mining,” Kim Hunter said. “Mining was in his pores. He had a deep knowledge of mining and the American West.”
Hunter started life in 1926 in Yonkers, New York, but grew up in Philadelphia, PA. After serving in the U.S. Army, 603rd Air Engineer Squadron from 1944 to 1946 during World War II, he used the G.I. bill to get an Engineer of Mines Degree from Colorado School of Mines in Golden, CO in 1953.
In April 1952, Hunter married his beloved Cherry, another easterner from Philadelphia, and together they travelled throughout the west, working in mining camps and raising their four children, Kim, Nancy, Andrew, and Liz. In the beginning, the two lived in Golden. “Mom worked at the Coors Brewery,” their daughter Kim Hunter recalled. The Hunters soon relocated to Arizona where Ed had gotten his first mining job. He started his lifelong mining career working for the San Manuel Copper Corp shoveling rock underground as a mucker.
Ed Hunter came to know all about mining from the bottom up, working his way up the chain from mucker and driller and to engineer and manager. From Arizona, the Hunter family moved on to Utah, New Mexico, Alaska, and Colorado while Ed mined copper, coal, lead, iron, and finally gold. Ed and Cherry also travelled extensively to other mining locations around the world from Canada to Mongolia. In 1975, Ed, Cherry, and their youngest child, Liz, journeyed to Nome, Alaska where he was charged with re-opening the gold dredges which had been shut down since 1961.
Hunter’s next big challenge was in Victor, where he worked for the Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Company, finishing as their History/Culture Permit Manager when he retired in 1993. He loved Victor and the mine, and the mine showed its appreciation for him by naming their gold processing building after him. Hunter was the exception to the rule of not naming anything permanent for a living person. The mine never doubted that Hunter would do anything other than make them proud to see his name every day.
After his retirement, Hunter channeled his energy into being an educator and advocate for mining. He joined the Southern Teller County Focus Group and helped to build the hiking trails around Victor, providing locals and visitors alike with access to the historical mining areas in the gold camp. Ed and Cherry wrote the interpretive signs for the trails. The people at the State Historic Fund, who helped pay for the project, tried to complain about the length of the text on the signs, but it was too interesting for anyone to cut it shorter. “To me that captures what Dad was about. He wanted to make mining come to life and make it real for people,” Kim Hunter said. “He tried to educate the public about the every-day uses of mining through the trails and the interpretive signs, talking about mining, bringing it to life.”
Hunter also volunteered his time with the Victor Lowell Thomas Museum and the Western Museum of Mining and Industry (WMMI) on the north side of Colorado Springs. Hunter was a former chairman of the board and an Honorary Lifetime Trustee at WMMI. He wrote many articles for them about mining and mining history, and coauthored two books for the museum, The World’s Greatest Gold Camp and A Concise History of Mine Hoisting.
As a member of the Mining History Association, Hunter received the Rodman Paul Award for outstanding contributions to mining history. The Association recognized Ed and Cherry for organizing the Mining History Association’s 14th annual conference for more than 160 members in 2003 in the Victor/Cripple Creek mining area.
Ed Hunter authored his final book, Cherry’s Art: Images of Mining History, earlier this year shortly before his death. The book is a tribute to his wife, who died back in November of 2004. The book contains twenty-two black and white images created by Cherry Hunter during her life in Victor, all of historic mining scenes and mining processes. The images are from locations lived in or visited by the Hunters over the years, as well as local mining scenes. The book also includes a forward and descriptions of Cherry’s prints written by Ed, biographical information on the Hunters, and comments from their children. Limited edition copies of the book are available through the Victor Lowell Thomas Museum.
Jane Mannon, the current community affairs manager for the Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mine, remembers Hunter well. “Ed was always such a great resource. I get lots of requests for information about the mining district, and Ed was the go-to guy. He would come up with the most obscure information. Even if he couldn’t find what someone was looking for, he could provide information that would be of interest.”
Ed had the ability to hold everyone’s attention with a great story. For example, back when Roy Romer was Colorado’s governor, he was on one of his “Romer on the Range” tours in Victor. Ed Hunter got to telling Romer mining stories. David Snell, the Teller County Administrator back then, was getting anxious about getting to the next stop on time. Snell tried to gently prod Romer to move along, and the Governor replied “Shut up, Ed is talking!”