These pages are © Copyright 2001-2007, by Julie Kidd, all rights reserved.
Please report any broken links, or other concerns, to the webmaster.
Please respect copyright on and off the Internet.
Mining Life in Oregon
Circumstances of Interview
Federal Writers' Project
Works Progress Administration
OREGON FOLKLORE STUDIES
Name of worker : Walker Winslow
Address : 2069 SW Park
Subject: Mining Life in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.
Name and address of informant: William Huntley Hampton 2037 SW Park, Portland, Oregon.
Date and time of interview: December 9, 1938. Afternoon
Place of interview: Home of Mr. Hampton
Name and address of person, if any, who put you in touch with informant : Miss Nettle Spencer, 2071 SW Park, Portland.
Name and address of person, if any, accompanying you : None.
Description of room, house, surroundings, etc. :
Description of room, house,
surroundings, etc. Mr. Hampton lives
alone in a large two story houses
which he owns. It is a dwelling that
was fashionable in the early century
and has been kept in good repair and
has a well kept yard surrounded with a
hedge. Mr. Hampton, in order to
simplify his life, has cut off most of
the house and lives in two rear rooms,
a bedroom, and the kitchen, which he
has also made into a study and
workroom. It was there I interviewed
the gentleman. The kitchen is a large
one and has a cook stove which serves
as a heating stove also. Close by it
is the drawing board of the engineer
and across from that another large
work table, and a small table with a
typewriter on it. There is a place for
everything, and the wood is stacked so
neatly one would think it was on
exhibit. There are only two chairs in
the room and a filing cabinet. A door
opening into the rest of the house is
kept ajar for ventilation. Everything
is very clean. The rest of the house
is a sort of a museum and in it Mr.
Hampton keeps his photographs,
records, periodicals and bulletins, as
well as mineral samples and models of
mining machinery. He says that he has
a ton and a half of mineral samples in
the basement. I didn't see the upper
story of the house.
Personal History of Informant
Information obtained should supply the following facts:
1. Ancestry : Son of Brigham Young Helen Emily Huntley (Boone) Hampton, of Salt Lake City, Utah. Non-committal about Brigham Young, but had a step-father, Joshua Elliot Clayton, who came from Georgia to the gold rush in California, during the 'fifties. Mother was of titled English stock on one side, and was a Boone on the other. Clayton was quite a famous engineer.
2. Place and date of birth : Salt Lake City, Utah, February 9, 1866.
3. Family : Given in ancestry, except for a childless marriage to [?] Jane Leslie of Portland, Oregon in 1892.
4. Places lived in, with dates : Left Utah quite young and followed step-father through mining camps, except for period of education. As a mining engineer Mr. Hampton moved about quite a bit. Held chair of chemistry at Willamette University, 1885-86; Portland for next few years, as consulting engineer and assayer. Traveled through the Northwest as representative of Bureau of Mines, 1889-93. Part owner and manager of Columbia Mines, at Placer, Oregon, for six years (also postmaster). Construction engineer with Oregon California Railroad, for time United States Survey, California 1902. Alaska till 1905. Chief Engineer and manager Alaska Pacific Terminal Railroad Company 1906-12. Member of firm of Florence Hampton, mining and construction engineers, New York City, 1912-1916 (charge). Gas defense apparatus, Long Island laboratories; Representative Gas Defense Division United States Army, 1918-19. Now living in semi-retirement in Portland. Is doing work with oil shale etc.
5. Education, with dates : Common schools, Salt Lake City, St. Marks High School Deseret University (Chemistry and Engineering).
6. Occupations and accomplishments with dates : Mining and construction engineer; inventor, mineralogist, specialist in oil shales and dam construction.
7. Special skills and interests : Covered in 4 and 6.
8. Community and religious activities : Republican and Episcopalian. Member of many engineering organizations. Associate American Museum of Natural History. Member National Geographic Society.
9. Description of informant : Mr. Hampton is a man of orderly and dignified bearing; smooth shaven, good even teeth and kindly face. He has a little infirmity in the limbs but it does not seem to bother his disposition, and he talks with an evenly modulated voice and in excellent English. Obviously a man of even and clean habits, but not a bigot. One could say that he is an extraordinarily well-balanced individual, who wears his years with grace and dignity and finds the world entertaining.
10. Other points gained in interview : Mr. Hampton is very cooperative and has a fine collection of photographs of early mining activities, which he would allow to be copied. Also he has any amount of minerals and mining documents that might be of value. Most of his step-father's papers are preserved, as well as his own. Says he has the only complete record of the Alaska Railroad, a point that might be of interest to the Territory of Alaska Writers' Project. Will cooperate in every way that will help with the work we are doing, and although he is not what could be called a good folklore source, he could be valuable in many other ways, especially in connection with mining.
You can get what
biographical material you need from
Who's Who in Engineering, but remember
that, in spite of my ancestry I am
not, as Lockley (Oregon-Journal)
wrongly insisted in a recent write-up
he gave me, a Mormon. I was christened
in the Episcopal Church. I am afraid
that I can't be much help on folklore,
but I can tell you what you want to
know about mining, and if you will
pick a specific subject and prepare
your questions I will answer them to
the best of my ability. I had
something to do with Oregon mining and
my step-father was one of the leading
mining engineers of the West. He was a
man who never went to school a day in
his life and yet he was the best
engineer, office and field, I have
ever known. I learned more from him by
accident than I did from the
university by design. He was a noted
authority on Apex suits, and as such
was called to most of the big mines in
the West. He was known as the man who
founded Butte, Montana, and I doubt
that but for the advice he gave Read
on the Bunker Bill and Sullivan mines,
Reed College would exist today. That
is a long story, but when the Reed
estate had some litigation over the
mine they had to get the records that
my step-dad had preserved, and copy
them in order to win their case. I
have the papers here. You are probably
more interested in Oregon mining, so
we will talk about that and return to
the old man later.
Extra Comment :
Mr. Hampton is a
potential source for the Historical
Records Survey, and also for Mr.
Bright, on ghost towns. His collection
of records and photos should be
examined. It might pay to find out if
Alaska needs any of the material he
has, or Utah. Obviously several states
would have to collaborate, to got the
full value of his experiences. He is
an amiable man and eager to be of
assistance if what he has is of any