The Mine

We hope to give you some idea about what the inside of a mine was like. Ore was loaded into cars that either rolled out of the mine down a gentle incline or were pulled out by mules or burros. Sometimes a mule or burro lived its whole life deep in the earth and eventually lost its sight. When you are in the Mine you will notice the wooden ties which support the track. Some are almost worn through by the repetitive walking back and forth of the animals as they pulled the ore cars. Do you know what a "Tommy Knocker" is? Can you find one here?

In the last section of the mine notice the hammers and drills on the wall. Holes had to be drilled to house explosives which would, when activated, fracture the rock making it possible to extract the ore. In the early years, this had to be done by hand. In "single jacking" one man held the drilling steel and hammered it into the rock. In "double jacking" one man held the steel while the other swung a heavy hammer to accomplish the same goal. Imagine this mine lit by only one or two candles. Imagine water dripping constantly making everything slick. Imagine it is nearing the end of a 10 hour shift. Would you rather be the one to hold the steel or the one to strike it? Eventually drills powered by compressed air replaced the hand tools. And even later these power drills had a water supply which helped significantly to keep the finely ground dust, created by drilling, out of the air. Here you see some old compressed air drilling machines. Also, notice the drill pattern on the face of the wall and the dynamite warmer. Behind you is a real "vug" or cavity of crystals which was brought out of the Grizzly Bear, a nearby mine owned and operated by the Zanett family. The crystals are quartz and pink rhodochrosite. On your way out of the mine notice the blue enamel sign telling the bell signals for a hoist. What's your idea of a bad way to die? In 1896, seven days before Christmas, five miners at the Virginius Mine stepped into a lift. The signaling rules weren't followed. The operator didn't speak English and the cable which was supposed to hold the cage had been disconnected. How would it feel to fall 1,100 feet straight down a mine shaft?.......It's time to leave the mine, isn't it?

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