From Underground to Open Pit
Harvey Richards mining photos spanned the transition from deep shaft mining of the early 20th century to open pit mining that became dominant in the second half.
His interest in mining is not surprising given two generations of family involvement starting with his grandfather, Larkin Richardson, and continuing with his father, Harvey Richards, Sr., both of whom were mining engineers at one time in their lives.
In the 1950’s, Harvey was an active organizer in the Butte, Montana area with the Communist Party, helping the miners’ union organizations there during strikes. When circumstances changed later in the 1950’s, and he took up photography, he returned to Butte to make Perch of the Devil, the story of the miner’s strike of 1959. At the end of his active years as a photographer, he made Tale of Ruin, his last film in 1978 about open pit mining and the role of mining in capitalist resource exploitation, international geo-politics and its impact on the environment . In between these films, and as part of both film projects, he took still photos which are presented here in two galleries, the first from the 1959 film trip and the second from subsequent trips to Butte and elsewhere photographing open pit mining operations.