A look at Mining
grandfather, James Pursley, also known as “Jim,” was a miner for about
twenty-six years. He worked in a few different mines in the
My grandfather spent some time working in the Campbell, the Cole, the Dallas, and others. When he started working in the Bisbee mine, he said that Phelps Dodge was still mining the Junction, Campbell, Cole, and Dallas shafts. These were straight down holes. He said that all of the shafts were connected with drives. The
Grandpa explained that it was darker
down there than one could imagine, its not like being outside during the night,
no; it’s much darker because you don’t have any moonlight or starlight. The
miners had battery-operated lamps that they wore on their hard hats, and the
battery was worn on their belt. Grandpa says you got into a bad habit of moving
your head to shine your lamp on whatever it was you wanted to see. If for some
reason your lamp went out while you were working, you could feel your way back
to the main tunnel where there where stationary lights along the walls. They
also had to wear steel-toed shoes for protection.
My grandfather worked his first five years in stopes. Stope mining is where a straight vertical shaft is drilled along side a large deposit, also, which has horizontal tunnels running at periodic levels into the deposit. The cavernous opening where the minerals are excavated are called stopes (Britannica Encyclopedia Volume 8, pg 165). Here he mined copper. The following 18 years his duties were to perform cross cuts. Cross cutting is basically a cut into a mountain on a horizontal plane (Britannica Encyclopedia Volume 8, pg 159) But my grandfather said most of the cross cuts had to be timbered. Although sometime the rock was strong enough that it could be left raw (nothing to support it). He said that sometimes they would only roof bolt it. Roof bolting was drilling holes into the ceiling of a tunnel, then putting up timber and bolting it on to the ceiling with an expanding bolt. It is said that there was enough silver and gold mined along with the copper to pay for mines’ expenses. The procedure for mining according to my grandfathers experiences are as follows:
First the miner drills into the rock, where they later place the dynamite to blast the rock. One of the tools used to drill was called a Jackleg. The Jackleg allowed a miner to drill at any angle. The Jackleg was basically an air driven drill that was mounted on an extension leg. There was also a stoper drill, but the stoper only allowed you to drill straight up. The plugger on the other hand, was a jackhammer, and it let a miner drill downward. The jackleg, stoper, and plugger all ran on air pressure. There are other tools like the hand crank drill that were used in earlier mining days. The hand crank drill was powered only by the strength of the miner behind it.
Secondly the miners would place dynamite down into the drilled holes in the rock. The miners would set up a timer, and after they left, the timer would set off the blast.
After the rock was blasted, it was time to muck it out. The mucking machine was used to load the ore into an ore car. The mucking machine sat on rails that were placed about 18 inches apart, throughout the tunnels. The mucking machines basically scooped up the ore and loaded it into an ore car, which could hold about one ton of ore. The ore car also sat on the rails. Grandpa said he could load about one ton of ore per minute using a mucker. The mucker sat on the tracks in the middle of the tunnel, and off to the sides the miners would have tracks for other ore cars, they called this the “super switch”. The super switch allowed several ore cars to sit out of the way. So when the miner driving the mucking machine needed another ore car, he would push the full one off to the side and get an empty car from the other.
pulled the ore cars. On the roof of each tunnel, the miners strung a heavy
copper wire on insulators, about 3/8 inch to ½ inch in thickness. They would
hook up electrical current to the copper for the trolleys to run along. Each
trolley had a long extension that reached the copper wire, which powered the
trolley from the current.
trolleys then took the ore in the ore cars to a chute where they were dumped.
The ore made its way down the chute, to a main shoot, where it was then lifted
out in a huge bucket. Then the ore was shipped to the mill where it was crushed
into sand. After being shipped to the mill, it was then shipped to the smelter
Grandpa said he had never come
across any real large specimens such as caves of crystals or precious stones.
But he did come across some fist-sized pockets of crystals now and then. He has
also found some specimens of
Azurite, Malachite, Cuprite, Pyrite, Epidote, some clusters of various crystals, and more.
Mineral deposits have been found all over