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Transporting the Ore

by Todd Underwood

From the Mine to the Outside World
Once the ore was broken off the rock faces inside the mine, the chunks were shoveled into a transportation system to get it to the outside. If the mine was a shaft mine, the ore was shoveled into


Ore Bucket

an ore bucket which was hauled up to the top of the mine by a winch. This winch or hoist was usually powered by the


Hoist

steam or diesel engines and was also used to get the miners and other equipment in and out of the mines.


Ore Car

If the mine was a tunnel mine, the ore was shoveled into an ore car that ran on small train like track. The ore car was pulled on these tracks all the way out of the mine.

From the Mouth of the Mine to the Mill
Once the ore was at the mine entrance, it was transported to a mill for milling. The type of transportation used here depended on how far the mill was. Many mines had mills in the same town that were nearby the mine making transportation easy. Most of the time, ore was deposited into an ore chute that held tons of ore


Ore Chute

waiting to be processed. From this chute, the mill which was usually located below the chute to take advantage of gravity, took as much ore per hour as it could process. Sometimes the mines were located on steep cliffs or near the tops of mountains. In


Aerial Tramway Tower

these cases, an aerial tramway system was developed, much like a modern ski lift. The only difference is instead of carrying skiers on a seat the tramway carried ore in giant ore buckets. If the mill was located in another city or state, the ore was loaded onto sturdy wagons for transportation.

From the Mill on
Most mills were not able to concentrate the ore completely to the free metal. In other words, most mills located at the mines and townsites were not able to put a rock in one end and have a gold ingot come out the other. Their job was simply to concentrate the ore enough to save on the shipping. If the ore coming out of the mill was ten times more concentrated than the ore going in, then one wagon load of the processed ore would be equal to 10 wagon loads of the unprocessed ore. This could greatly reduce the riskiness and difficulty of shipping the ore as the ore wagons were a favorite of bandits.

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