県北東部の阿賀野川上流域に位置し、江戸中期から大正期にかけて銅鉱を産出しました。 1739 年(元文 4 年)津川町民 茂左衛門らによる発見を起源とし、江戸後期の文化、嘉永年間は会津藩金山役所のもとで 300 人ほどの坑夫を抱えて繁栄します。 1865 年(慶応元年)に慶応坑を開発して増産に繋げますが、後に勃発する戊辰戦争によって設備を失い、休山を余儀なくされました。 明治期に入ると草倉は越後府に次いで若松県に移管され、1871 年(明治 4 年)に津川の資産家 平田次八郎が請負稼行を始めます。 後に政府は外国資本の排除や民間鉱業の育成などを目的として国内の未採掘鉱石を官有と定め、借区制を設けて国内の鉱業を独占しました。 1875 年(明治 8 年)に平田から借区権の譲渡を受けた相馬藩末代藩主 相馬誠胤は、前年に廃業を迎えた豪商 小野組の古河市兵衛らを鉱山経営にあたらせます。 翌年に権利を譲り受けた古河は単独経営を始めて坑内軌道の敷設と鉱車の使用、発破工法や削岩機の導入など、鉱山の近代化に向けて取り組みました。 麓の角神には 1882 年(明治 15 年)に製錬所が新設され、生産された粗銅は 20 隻の舟で阿賀野川を下り、新潟港から東京の本所溶銅所へ送られました。 1884 年(明治 17 年)には国内首位の足尾に次ぐ 1,084 t の産銅量を記録し、従業員数は 1,712 名を数えて最盛期を迎えます。 後に生産量は増減を繰り返しつつも次第に減少し、出張所に改編された 1911 年(明治 44 年)以降は製錬操業が断続的に休止され、二年後には中止を余儀なくされました。 1914 年(大正 3 年)以降に行われた五度にわたる探鉱も成果に乏しく、戦後不況に伴う銅価下落の影響から後に閉山を迎えることとなります。 周辺には各地から集まった坑夫の無縁墓が現在も残ります。

1920 年閉山

Kusakura Mine

The mine is located in the upper Agano River basin in the northeastern part of the prefecture and produced copper ore from the middle of the 18th century to the early 20th century. According to lore, Mozaemon and others, inhabitants of former Tsugawa Town, discovered an outcrop in 1739. Later, the mine employed about 300 miners and prospered under the management of the Aizu Domain in the first half of the 19th century. Although the development of Keiou adit increased production from 1865, the outbreak of the Boshin War, a Japanese civil war, destroyed mining facilities and led to an operational pause. In the Meiji period, the mine management shifted to Echigo Prefecture and later to Wakamatsu Prefecture. Subsequently, Jihachiro Hirata, a wealthy person in former Tsugawa Town, began mining operations on contract in 1871. The new government nationalized all of the minerals in the country and granted permission to contractors to work in leasehold areas with the aim of an elimination of foreign capital inflows and promoting the development of the private mining industry. In 1875, Tomotane Soma, the last feudal lord of the Soma Domain, purchased the leasehold rights from Hirata and entrusted the mine management to Ichibei Furukawa and another from Ono Gumi Company, a wealthy merchant that closed down in the previous year. Furukawa acquired the rights the following year, leading to modernization, such as laying tracks in tunnels, using mine cars, blasting excavation, and introduction of rock drills. Tsunogami Smelter was established and began operations at the base of the mine in 1882. Crude copper went down the Agano River by 20 cargo boats and was transported from Niigata Port to Honjo Copper Smeltery in Tokyo. In the peak year of 1884, the mine produced 1,084 tonnes of crude copper, the second largest in the country, and the number of employees reached 1,712. Thereafter, production gradually decreased, and the mine was demoted to a branch office in 1911. The smelter intermittently suspended operations from the same year and was abandoned two years later. Although mineral exploration was performed five times from 1914, the results were poor. The depression after the First World War caused a decrease in copper price, which led to the mine closure later. Numerous gravestones of the miners remain around and can be seen even now.

closure in 1920


Kanose, Aga Town, Higashi-Kanbara County, Niigata
copper, iron sulfide, gold, silver

草倉鉱山 草倉鉱山-坑口 草倉鉱山 草倉鉱山-事務所 草倉鉱山-大山神社 草倉鉱山 草倉鉱山 草倉鉱山-大山神社 草倉鉱山-大山神社 草倉鉱山-大山神社 草倉鉱山-墓石 草倉鉱山-墓石

Photographed in 2005
Printed in 2017