TRIUMPH, Idaho ( KMVT / KSVT ) - A historical men’s society dedicated a plaque and monument at Triumph Mine on Saturday, August 22nd.
Triumph’s only surviving miner was there to share his experiences working in the mine.
Otherwise known as the “Redshirts,” E Clampus Vitus is dedicated to the study and preservation of the heritage of the American West.
“It was kind of an organization where miners took off with it, it was kind of their own. And it was so if, one of the miners died, back then they didn’t have life insurance and stuff like that. So if a miner died, the other red shirts, the Clampers, would take care of their widow and orphans and pay their rent, and make sure they had food and stuff like that. It was really big in the mining camps until the mining started dying down and then the organization almost went away. And then it reemerged as a historical organization. They said well its not needed in the mining camps anymore, but we can use it to preserve mining history,” said Justin Schoolcraft, Grand Noble Recorder, Snake River Chapter, E Clampus Vitus.
E Clampus Vitus has around 450,000 members total, with about 300 in Idaho. They say they like to commemorate more obscure history, like the old mine out at Triumph.
Triumph Mine operated from 1882 to 1957 and produced ore rich in silver, zinc, and lead.
Part of the dedication ceremony included some of Triumph Mine’s living history, Milton Fife, Triumph’s only surviving miner was there to share some of his personal experiences.
“As you advanced in you had to take your air lines with you. And your water lines with you, and your power lines. So working underground was almost like working in the city. You had all these utilities that you had to take to facilitate your work. Your biggest danger was not paying attention to what the ground was telling you. The ground would start taking weight and it would start talking, it would start creaking and popping. And I said well, it’s talking pretty loud today. And it wasn’t too long after that that is just collapsed,” said Milton Fife, retired miner.