Boom Days Parade Grand Marshall: Fred Mark
Fred Mark will be the 2017 Grand Marshal of Boom Days Parade in Leadville Today. So be sure to give him a big wave; he’s done a lot of great work for local historic preservation efforts!
For readers who may not know Fred, here is his story as posted from the official Boom Days website:
Fred Mark’s grandfather immigrated from Austria in the late 1890’s and settled in Butte, Montana. Had he chosen Leadville Fred might have arrived here several decades sooner than he did. Grandfather Mark was a skilled carpenter and had mined in Austria so he hired on as timberman in the East Calusa Mine. He advanced to foreman and later managed exploration crews and made wise (lucky) investments in mining stocks. He left mining and bought an irrigated farm in southern Idaho. Even though they adopted farming, mining remained an important part of the Mark family lore. During Fred’s early days growing up in eastern Washington, the family would often pass through the Coeur d’Alene Mining District of north Idaho where his uncle worked as a geologist. This sparked Fred’s interest in geology and mining.
After graduating from the University of Idaho with a BS in Geology, Fred went to work for El Paso Mining and Milling Company, exploring for base metals in southeast Alaska. His team worked from remote camps and used helicopters and boats to explore the coast from Ketchikan to Glacier Bay including Admiralty, Baranof, and Chichagof Islands. It was like a paid vacation. They located a significant Moly deposit that remains undeveloped to this day.
After Alaska, Fred moved to coal exploration and worked on projects throughout the Western U.S. including the Kapirowitz Plateau where he enjoyed another extended paid vacation. Fred later advanced to mining operations as quality control engineer, laboratory manager, and plant general foreman at the Cordero Mine in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming. At that time, the mine was shipping 13,000,000 tons per year. One of his favorite things (besides watching the trains leave the mine loaded with coal) was maintaining 10 miles of railroad track.
After Cordero, Fred returned to Alaska to work for a Vancouver over-the-counter mining company that operated a placer gold mine at Tofty, Alaska. His wife Sandra and their one month old son Trevor (aka “Mine Baby” who now also lives in Leadville) joined him at the remote camp.
Fred completed a full circle by ending his career with El Paso Exploration and Production, but this time in coalbed methane. He was responsible for drilling and completing nearly 400 wells on the Ted Turner’s Vermejo Park Ranch.
Fred is finally retired, after working 37 years in the mineral and energy industries. His time is split between Leadville and a small farm and vineyard on the Western slope. He continues the legacy of mining and farming that began with his Mark ancestors.
Fred had been making trips to the Leadville area in the 1960s as a kid growing up in Littleton. He purchased a house on the east side in Leadville in 2007. His Austrian heritage should have required that he settle on the west side, but the views are better on the east side. Living in Leadville has allowed Fred to pursue his interest in mining history and the views of the mining district right out his window provide inspiration. He has spent the last 10 years studying the plethora of geologic publications and has developed a good understanding of mineralization processes that created the world class Leadville Mining District.
He has given countless presentations and field trips over the years, and is looking forward to his next library talk in July: “The Wolftone Mine and the Underground Banquet.”
Finally, Fred is a strong advocate for historic preservation, and endorses stabilization of the remaining historic structures in the mining district before they are lost forever. Be sure to give him a big wave from the Grand Marshal car in today’s Boom Days Parade.
The Biggest! The Best! The Boom Days Parade