Mining History Association

Annual Conference June 6-9, 2013

Galena, Illinois

The 2013 MHA Conference will convene on June 6 in the heart of one of North America’s oldest and longest-producing mining camps: the Upper-Mississippi-Valley (UMV) Zinc-Lead District of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa.  Our host city of Galena, Illinois, is one of the most historically intact mining and river port towns east of the Mississippi River, with fully 85% of its buildings included within a National Register Historical District. 

Although relatively little known and studied by historians, the UMV Zinc-Lead District is rich with mining history.  The story begins before the arrival of the white man with widespread Native American mining and mineral trade.  It continues as one of the earliest and largest American mineral rushes prior to the California gold excitement of 1849.  The first prospectors and miners found and worked the lead deposits.  The development of modern zinc smelting and refining methods resulted in a zinc boom in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Mining of strategic minerals continued during both World Wars, the Korean Conflict, and much of the Cold War. 

Our conference headquarters and hotel, the DeSoto House, opened its doors on April 9, 1855, and remains the oldest operating hotel in the State of Illinois. (  This classic example of the “grand hotel” of the mining frontier has been lovingly restored to its former glory, and provides a wonderful step back in time.  It served as the presidential campaign headquarters for Ulysses S. Grant, and has greeted many other notable guests, including Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas, and William Jennings Bryan.  We have reserved a block of rooms at special conference rates.

Today’s Galena has reclaimed its status as a regional center of commerce and tourism.  Thus, the 2013 MHA Conference is also particularly well-suited for spouses and family.  Shopping and recreational opportunities abound in and around Galena, and a rich variety of fine eateries will appeal to any palate.  Numerous excellent museums and intriguing historic sites lie within easy reach, and well merit extending your stay by a day or more.

Please join us for MHA 2013 in Galena. Illinois, where the timeless atmosphere -- we are told – will be particularly conducive to the materialization in our midst of a number of ghosts of the past!

(Written by Mark Langenfeld)

Main Street in the Galena, Illinois Historical District.  CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

The historic DeSoto House Hotel, Galena, hosted distinguished visitors including Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.

Penna Benton Mine, Mineral Point Zinc Company, New Diggings, Wisconsin, ca. 1915. (Courtesy Library of Congress)


Call for Papers
2013 Mining History Association
Annual Conference

The Mining History Association will meet in historic Galena, Illinois, June 6-9, 2013. The Program Committee (Duane Smith and Mark Vendl) invites proposals for individual presentations or complete sessions (including chair) on any topic or aspect of mining history. Sessions include three papers of twenty minutes each. There are no temporal or geographic limits.

Proposals should include title of presentation, an abstract (not to exceed one page) for each presentation, plus biographical information about each presenter, including mailing/email address. Please note, speakers must register for the conference in order to give their presentations. Please send written proposals to the program session committee by November 15, 2012. Please make submissions by email attachment.

Mark Vendl


CONFERENCE PROGRAM (Available in 2013)



Welcoming Reception, DeSoto House Hotel, June 6, 2013

Awards Banquet, DeSoto House Hotel, June 7, 2013

Presidential Luncheon, DeSoto House Hotel, June 8, 2013               


Mines of Spain and the Shot Tower, Dubuque, IA., June 6, 2013. (Half-day trip) 

Mining Museum and Bevans Mine, Platteville, WI, and the 19th Century lead smelter archaeological site, Potosi, WI, June 7, 2013. (Half-day trip)

Mining Museum and Badger Mine, Shullsburg, WI, and the Cornish Miner’s settlement, Pendarvis, near Mineral Point, WI. June 9, 2013. (Full-day trip with box lunch)



Galena, Illinois Tourism

Grant County and Platteville, Wisconsin Tourism

Shullsburg, Wisconsin Tourism

Dubuque, Iowa Tourism

Galena and U. S. Grant Museum, Galena, IL.

The Mining Museum, Rollo Jamison Museum, and the Bevans Lead Mine, Platteville, WI.

The Badger Mine and Museum, Shullsburg, WI.

The Cornish Miners’ Village of Pendarvis, WI.

The Potosi Township, WI Smelter Restoration Project, Potosi Township Historical Society.

The Mines of Spain Recreation Area, Dubuque, IA.

Hegeler Carus Mansion, LaSalle, IL.



Allen V. Heyl, Jr., Allen F. Agnew, Erwin J. Lyons, and Charles H. Behre, Jr., “The Geology of the Upper Mississippi Valley Zinc-Lead District,” USGS Professional Paper 309, (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1959).  This publication is the "bible" of the Wisconsin/Illinois/Iowa zinc-lead mining district.

View a gallery of interesting historic Wisconsin mining photos (including other mining districts in the Badger State).

John Adelman (ed.), “The Dubuque Shot Tower,” (Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2011).

H. Foster Bain, “Zinc and Lead Deposits of the Upper Mississippi Valley,” (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1906).

C. Bradbury, “Crevice Lead-Zinc Deposits of Northwestern Illinois,” Illinois State Geol. Survey, Report of Investigations 210, (Champaign-Urbana: Illinois State Geological Survey, 1959).

Steve Bussan, “Mining in the Driftless: The Upper Mississippi Valley Lead and Zinc District,” (Shullsburg, WI: Steve Bussan, 2020)

G. H. Cox, “Lead and Zinc Deposits of Northwestern Illinois,” Illinois State Geol. Survey, Bulletin No. 21, (Champaign-Urbana: Illinois State Geol. Survey, 1914)

Loren Farrey, “A Tour Guide to the Mines of Lafayette County, Wisconsin,” (Pardeeville, Wisconsin: Farrey Enterprises, 2001).

Ulysses Sherman Grant, “Preliminary Report on the Lead and Zinc Deposits of Southwestern Wisconsin,” Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, Bulletin No. IX, (Madison: State of Wisconsin, 1903).

Alan Heyl, et. al, “Geology of the Upper Mississippi Base-Metal District (Revised),” Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, Information Circular 16, (Madison: Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, 1978).

Stanley T. Holland, “A History of Mining In Iowa County, Wisconsin,” (Self published, 1983)

Jim Jewell, “Cornish in America: Linden, Wisconsin,” (Linden, Wisconsin: Cornish Miner Press, 1990).

James A. Lake, “Law and Mineral Wealth: The Legal Profile of the Wisconsin Mining Industry,” (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1992).

Carol M. McCernon, “Lead-Mining Towns of Southwest Wisconsin (Images of America),” (Mount Pleasant, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2008).

R. R. Reynolds, “The Last Bonanza,” (Bloomington, Indiana: Trafford Publishing Co., 2003).

Lawrence A. Roe, “A History of Wisconsin Mining,” (Roeco, 1990).

Joseph Schafer, “The Wisconsin Lead Region,” (Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin,1932).



Mark and Lynn Langenfeld (
Mark and Karen Vendl (


All contents copyright 2011. This is a ZStudios website.

All contents copyright 2011. This is a ZStudios website.