Wednesday, November 22, 2000

Health Mines of Montana

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Arthritic mine visitors soak their aching joints in radioactive mineral water during their radon session deep in the mine.
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"Walking into the Merry Widow Mine"

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A mine employee uses a Geiger counter to measure the radiation levels on the breath of a visitor after her morning session in the mine.

I’m heading up to Seattle for Thanksgiving, so I may not get to update the site for the next two days.  Thus, I will post three photos today--Back in June while I was in Montana, I did a little self assignment and investigated the health mines of Jefferson County.  Montana in the only place in the USA a person can find health mines.  More can be found in Japan and Europe.  The theory behind the health mine is that inhalation of high concentrations of radon in measured doses has beneficial health effects.

The three photos to the right were taken at the Merry Widow Health Mine outside of Basin, Montana. 

This seems to be the most popular of the four operating health mines in the area.  Though it may sound ridiculous, to sit in an old mine shaft and breath radon, I found a lot of believers in the mine.  Dozens of people, mostly 50-80 years old, were inside.  Almost to a person they said that they visit the mine annually, and that problems of inflammation, be it arthritis, asthma, or fibro myalgia, have inexplicably gone into remission after their first series of mine visits.  They say the treatment lasts about 10-12 months, then their condition begins to deteriorate, so they keep coming back.

A series of treatments consists of 30 hours in the mine (the maximum allowed by the state health department per year).  These hours are usually done over a ten day period.  One hour in the mine, two hours out, with three sessions per day.  The Merry Widow offers a complete campground.  This allows many people to spend their annual vacations sitting in an old mine shaft in the middle of the Montana outback, about 25 miles North of Butte.  Does it really work?  Is it really safe?  Do I believe the stories of people crippled with arthritis throwing down their crutches and getting out of their wheelchairs?  I don’t know, but several people told me “I get one vacation a year.  Why would I travel 1000 miles to sit in a cold, damp mine shaft if it didn’t work?

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Tuesday, November 21, 2000

“Springtime in Missoula”

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Shot on Kodak VS

I feel like going to Montana.  But I can’t get away right now, so here is a little Montana for my site.  Missoula, this past June, looking towards the University from the Higgens St. Bridge over the Clarkfork River.  When I lived in Montana I crossed this bridge several times a day.  Those hills are really a lot closer than they look.  This photo was taken with a 19mm (very wide angle) lens.

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Monday, November 20, 2000

“Scrappy Judd Newcomb”

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Tech note: shot on TMZ at EI 25,000 it was a very dark club, and the film was pushed to the max!

This photo is of Judd Newcomb, a well known guitarist in Austin, TX.  This picture was taken during my first newspaper assignment—which was for the Austin Chronicle.  This photo of Judd was my favorite but it was not the one that was published. 

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Sunday, November 19, 2000

“Arctic Horses”

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This photo was taken in June of 1995.  It is along the Dempster Highway about 100 miles south of the Arctic Circle a little bit after midnight.  The horses appeared to be strays as there was no signs of anyone living in the area.  The strange color in the sky was due to a large forest fire farther to the South.  Later on in my trip I would be stuck in Dawson for several hours because that forest fire had closed all roads out of town. 

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Saturday, November 18, 2000

“There’s no news like old news”

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It’s kind of a funny story.  After a long absence I was trying to get back in with the Willamette Week (a local newspaper) as a freelance photographer.  It was the aftermath of the May Day protests.  I heard there was another labor rally going one and I asked if WW if they needed any photographs.  They said they already had someone taking pictures, but they could use more.  It was an ongoing story, and they were going to need a lot of photos about it.  Now, I thought that “it” was the labor dispute between a local union and Powell’s chain of bookstores.  After all, that was what the rally was about.  So I photographed the protest.  In fact I shot 5 rolls of the protest.  I turned them all into the Willamette Week.  When the next issue came out I discovered that the story they were covering was the police presences, since there had been some controvertial uses of force during the May Day protest.  Needless to say, my photos were of no help and none were bought.  But, while looking at them tonight, as I was filing some old work, there were a bunch I really liked.  So I thought I would publish a couple here.

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