Old Joe Cattering

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Marble Springs 2.0 screenshot of Old Joe Cattering

What we know

Prospected Sugar Boy Mountain. In 1872, he uncovered two large silver veins,and he secretly mined what he could. Mr. Davidson helped him buy out all other claims on the mountain and financed the Sugar Boy Mine, which produced $100,000 of silver a year in its heyday. The mine had not tapped out when the Silver Crash of 1893 forced the mine to close. He and his wife, Billie Rose, stayed on to raise their children1 (Lily, Conner, Tadg, and Rowan) and gain respectability in Marble Springs.

Silver is the Secret to Happiness

Old Joe worked his claim at night.
When it is dark outside, he'd say, might as well be dark inside.
At the end of his night, he'd roast chickory for coffee1
and watch the aspen leaves turn slowly silver
in the growing sunlight. From shadow to sun,
he'd say. Might as well see the world
in a greener, clearer light.

The breath of his dearest Columbine went fast one night
while he was in the mine, taking their stillborn baby
back into her cold body. He buried them quietly
in the back of the mine shaft, leaving a vein
of untouched silver to watch over them.
Death and birth he'd say. Two sides of the
same coin we pay for life.

Might was well enjoy the show, he'd follow.
After all, we bought and paid for it, already.
When he saw Billie Rose's laughing eyes
down at the White Owl, he let her win
all his silver. Promised her more if she'd
only join her quicksilver2 laugh

with his silver claim — To purify the
mine tailings into life,
he'd say.





Getting Gold: A practical treatise for prospectors, miners and students. Written by J.C.F. Johnson, F.G.S. (1898) Portal caption and links
Billie Rose Cattering
Tim Harmon
Penny Cernak
Laura Keeperly

Please note that this poem is dedicated to Talita and Christina, Sine qua non

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Portal to secret connections--drops of quicksilver (mercury)
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