A Mile High and a Mile Deep
Episode #9

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Posted Aug 14, 2003 - 5:49 PM:


Wyllis Cooper

Sunday, August 17, 1947
10:10-10:30 PM EDST (Network)

Monday, August 18, 1947
10:00-10:30 PM EDST (WOR)

Fri. Aug. 15, 2:00-5:00 PM Studio 15
Sun. Aug. 17, 8:00-10:00 PM Studio 15

CHAPPELL: Quiet, please.


CHAPPELL: Quiet, please.


ANNCR: Your story for tonight, written and directed by Wyllis Cooper, and featuring Ernest Chappell, is called “A Mile High and a Mile Deep”



LINCOLN: How old would you say I am, partner?
I bet you wouldn’t guess in a million years.
This beard would fool you, I s’pose. Quite a set of whiskers. You’d probably guess me around sixty, sixty-five.
Well, I’m not sixty, sixty-five, partner.
Can’t guess huh?
Well, I’ll tell you. I’m thirty-four.
(HE LAUGHS) Wouldn’t think it, would you?
Practically everybody where I come from wears a beard.
Silver Bow County.
Butte, Montana. Mile high and a mile deep.
Why, the city of Butte is almost exactly a mile above sea-level. And the copper-mines go down through the solid rock of the Bitteroot Mountains more than a mile.
Mile high, mile deep - get it?
See, this mountain that Butte sits on was pretty near solid copper once. Still a lot of it there, but in seventy or eighty years, they’ve cleaned out a lot, too. That mountain’s like a honeycomb now, with drifts and stopes and tunnels and crosscuts going every which way down under. Miles and miles of tunnels, bored out of living rock at about a million levels. Used to have a joke they’d tell visitors that went down in the mines: “where’s the nearest saloon?” one feollow’d say, and the other’d come right back. “One mile from here,” he’d say. “One mile, straight up.” True, too. Gives you a funny feeling, doesn’t it.
If you’re underground you can think about the people up top, riding around in their automobiles, buying groceries, talking to people - all that, and never giving you a thought maybe. And if you’re walking down Broadway you could maybe give your imagination a workout thinking about guys in hard hats ‘way down there in the bowels of the mountains, pecking away at the seams of copper with seventeen thousand million billion tons of rock pressing down on ‘em, and the heat sucking the sweat out of ‘em and turning ‘em into rags … yeah. I should say so.


Oh, it’s different today. The mines are air-conditioned now mostly. They’ve got ventilating plants three-quarters of a mile underground that’d serve a town of two thousand. Great big rooms full of machinery forty-fifty feet high, and every bit of it brought down piece by little piece, down a shaft maybe as big as you kitchen door.
You’d be surprised what men and machinery can do, partner. (A PAUSE) And then again you’d be surprised by what men and machinery can’t do. A mile underground.
I found out.
I’ll say I found out.
I found out the hard way, partner.


LINCOLN: I wish you didn’t have that light on.
It hurts my eyes.
See, there isn’t much light down there in the copper mines. Some places there isn’t any light at all.


LINCOLN: Some places there’s just hot, heavy darkness.
And silence.
Like a grave.
Only in a grave there’s a nice heavy coffin to keep the earth from pressing down on you.
Down there, there’s nothing. Just the naked rocks.
And they’re awful close.


LINCOLN: You know, it’s a curious thing. There isn’t much of the earth’s surface that people haven’t seen. Sure, there’s a few blank spots on the map, but throughout the millions of years the earth’s been here, people have learned a lot about the outside. They’ve even got a pretty fair knowledge of what’s down in the ocean. But the inside of the earth: you don’t know much about that, do you? See, the earth’s about eight thousand miles from one side to the other. And a few people have been down maybe a mile, a mile and a half. The deepest mine in the world is just a scratch on the surface.
The rest is a mystery.
There’s a few people who have a pretty good idea what the rest of it’s like.
There’s … maybe a half a dozen who know.
Me, for instance.
I know.
That’s what I wanted to tell you about.
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