Harry Cougher’s career was solidly based in the Silver Valley of Northern Idaho. During his career he held a variety of senior positions with the following companies; 17 years with The Bunker Hill Company, 17 years with the Sunshine Mining Company, and six years with the Coeur d’Alene Mines Corporation. As VP of operations for Coeur d’Alene, he was instrumental in the building of the Kensington Mine, in Juneau. Additionally, Cougher held the position of executive director of Central Mine Rescue for nearly half his career. He was a very young VP, and excelled at both technical aspects and operational aspects of mining, which is sometimes a rarity. Cougher is widely regarded by his peers as a “miner’s miner” and one of the best operators in the country. After spending 40 years in various Silver Valley mine shafts, Harry Franklin Cougher won the prestigious William Lawrence Saunders Gold Medal Award in 2010.
As one of the heroes of the Sunshine Mine Fire of 1972 he participated in several reconnaissance missions, remaining active in the search and rescue operation for 13 days until the last victims were recovered. His actions during the disaster later earned the man the “State of Idaho Certificate of Commendation” in 1972. In 1977 Cougher became Bunker Hill’s Manager of Mining in the Coeur d’Alene mining district.
Cougher left the Silver Valley in 1983 for the dry semi-deserts of Amarillo, Texas where he found employment as the vice president of operations for Pioneer Nuclear. After a year he returned to the Silver Valley as the mine manager for the Sunshine Mining Company.
He was general manager of Sunshine’s Kellogg Division, changing to vice president/general manager, then to senior vice president of mining and finally chief operating officer.
In November 2001, after his second 17-year stint, he changed companies again, accepting a position with Coeur d’Alene Mines Company as the manager of the Galena, Coeur and Caladay mines.
When Coeur d’Alene sold its Silver Valley Mining Operations in May, 2006 Cougher finally hung up his miner’s hat and retired from the valley.
He was a career-long member of the American Institute of Mining Engineers and SME, the Northwest Mining Association and The Idaho Mining Association. Cougher served as a trustee of the Northwest Mining Association from 1986 to 1988 while also serving on the board of directors of the Idaho Mining Association representing three different companies: the Bunker Hill Co. (1980-1981), Sunshine Mining Co. (1996-2000) and Coeur d’Alene Mines (2002-2006). He also held the position of president twice from 1998 to 1999 and from 2003 to 2005.