Health Mines of Montana

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?