Part way through writing Hint of Copper, my main protagonist decided to follow a lead he'd picked up in a pool hall and head 25 miles southwest of the City to the town of Bingham. I didn't know much about Bingham, other than the mine itself was a huge open-pit copper mine, so I had to stop writing for several weeks while I tried to familiarize myself with an old mining town that no longer exists. Reading old journal accounts and personal reminiscences, discovering B&W movies and vintage photos, and talking to some old-timers who lived and spent time there, uncovered for me a fascinating, semi-isolated community that lived to it's own standards. It was an ethnic melting pot fondly remembered by many, that seems to have coalesced into a town drawn together by the shared hard life of mining. Pool halls and bars dotted the single, two-lane main street as it wound it's way seven miles up the canyon. People joked "it was so narrow, dogs had to wag their tails up and down." But by the late 1920's it became obvious that the mine would eventually consume the very ground the town was built on. Although it was on its last legs in the summer of '48 when fictional detective Jack Hammer visited, it was still a vibrant and busy place. Towns like Highland Boy and Copperfield vanished by the early '60s, and the last buildings in Bingham itself were demolished in the early 1970s. I hope my portrayal of old Bingham, fictional as it is, brings back warm memories to any who lived there.
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