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Salmo River Valley Historical Mining Exhibit



A mine shaft is a tunnel dug into the earth to access underground mineral deposits such as coal, gold, silver, copper, and other valuable ores. These shafts were the primary means of entry and exit for miners and provided a conduit for the transportation of materials, equipment, and ventilation.

Typically, a mine shaft was constructed using manual labor and basic tools such as picks, shovels, and dynamite. Miners would excavate the shaft from the surface downward, removing soil, rock, and other materials to create a passage into the earth. As the shaft descended deeper into the ground, it would often encounter layers of solid rock, which required drilling and blasting to break up and remove.

To reinforce the shaft walls and prevent collapse, miners would install timber supports or lining known as "cribbing." This cribbing consisted of wooden beams or planks stacked horizontally or vertically along the shaft walls, providing stability and structural integrity. In some cases, metal supports such as steel sets or props were also used to reinforce the shaft walls and roof.

At various intervals along the shaft, platforms or landings were constructed to provide resting points for miners and staging areas for equipment and materials. These platforms also served as transfer points for ore carts or skips, which transported mined materials to the surface for processing.

In addition to providing access to underground workings, mine shafts also served as conduits for ventilation, allowing fresh air to circulate throughout the mine and removing harmful gases and dust generated during mining operations. Ventilation systems consisting of fans, ductwork, and air shafts were installed to regulate air flow and maintain safe working conditions for miners.

Pieces at the Mine Shaft Site


Electric Locomotive

Electric locomotives replaced traditional steam-powered locomotives, offering several advantages such as reduced noise, emissions, and the need for ventilation.

Electric locomotives typically received power from an overhead wire system or from a third rail embedded in the mine's tunnel walls. The locomotives themselves were equipped with electric motors that drove the wheels, providing propulsion along the mine's track network. These locomotives were often smaller and more maneuverable than their steam counterparts, making them well-suited for navigating the narrow and winding tunnels of underground mines.

One of the significant benefits of electric locomotives was their contribution to improved safety. Unlike steam locomotives, electric locomotives did not produce smoke or exhaust fumes, which helped to reduce air pollution and minimize the risk of fires or explosions in the confined spaces of underground mines. Additionally, the use of electric locomotives eliminated the need for on-site fuel storage, further reducing the risk of accidents and improving safety standards for miners.

The electric "loci" (as they were sometimes called), marked a significant advancement in mining technology, contributing to increased productivity, improved safety, and enhanced working conditions for miners.

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Mucker or Mucking Machine

A mucker was used in mining operations to remove blasted rock or ore from underground mine workings. In essence, it was a specialized piece of equipment designed to speed up the process of clearing debris and transporting materials from the face of the mine to the surface or to ore passes for further processing.

Muckers were typically rugged, compact machines equipped with a bucket or scoop at the front that could be raised, lowered, and tilted to gather and transport loose material. The bucket was often operated hydraulically or mechanically, allowing it to scoop up blasted rock, ore, or waste material efficiently. Once loaded, the mucker would transport the material to a designated location for disposal, such as a waste dump or ore pass.

Ore Car

An ore car, also known as a mine car or mine cart, was a used to transport ore, waste rock, and other materials within underground mines. 

Typically constructed from sturdy materials such as steel or iron, ore cars were designed to withstand the harsh conditions of underground mining environments. They were relatively small in size, with a low profile to navigate narrow mine tunnels and passageways. Ore cars featured a box-like container or bucket mounted on a set of wheels, allowing them to be pushed or pulled along tracks laid within the mine.

Ore cars were loaded with mined material at the face of the mine by miners using shovels, picks, or loading equipment. Once loaded, the ore cars were pushed or pulled along the mine tracks by hand or by small locomotives called "mules" or "dinkies." 

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Incline Cart

an incline cart served as a vital means of transportation for moving materials and personnel between different levels of the mine where traditional vertical shafts were impractical. These specialized carts were designed to navigate steep inclines or grades within the mine, providing a cost-effective and efficient solution for traversing the rugged terrain. Typically consisting of a sturdy frame mounted on wheels or rollers, incline carts featured a platform or container for carrying materials, ore, or passengers.

Once loaded, the cart would traverse the incline, either propelled by the force of gravity or powered by a winch or other mechanical means. As the cart descended, its momentum would carry it along the track, transporting its payload to the lower elevation where it could be unloaded. 

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Winch & Slusher

A slusher was a specialized type of winch used specifically for excavation and ore extraction in underground mines. It consisted of a drum or reel mounted on a frame, with cables or ropes attached to a bucket or scraper device at one end. The slusher was typically positioned at the surface or at the top of a vertical shaft and operated by a miner stationed at ground level. The cables or ropes were lowered into the shaft or inclined tunnel, and the bucket or scraper was dragged along the floor or walls of the mine to remove loose material or ore. Once filled, the bucket or scraper was hoisted back to the surface using the winch, where the material could be dumped or transported for further processing.



Blowers operate like a large vacuum cleaner, using airflow through pipes to move dirt from the face of the drive to the surface. Blowers were a radically new technology in mining. They performed many functions – moving dirt along drives to the shaft, lifting dirt to the surface, separating fine clay particles from the dirt, and ventilating the drives – which had previously been done by other machines. Blowers could be set up more quickly and move much greater quantities of dirt compared with other mining machinery. Unlike many previous inventions, blowers were not adopted by all miners. They used huge amounts of fuel and demanded considerable mechanical skill to operate them efficiently.

Side Dump Ore Car

Unlike traditional ore cars with bottom-dumping mechanisms, side dump ore cars featured a unique design that allowed them to discharge their contents through openings or doors located on the sides of the car.

Typically constructed from sturdy materials such as steel or iron, side dump ore cars consisted of a box-like container mounted on wheels or rollers, with doors or gates along the sides that could be opened or closed to facilitate loading and unloading. These doors were operated manually by miners or by mechanical mechanisms, depending on the specific design of the car. When the ore car reached its destination, the side dump mechanism would be activated, causing the doors or gates on the sides of the car to open, allowing the contents to be discharged onto a conveyor belt, into a bin, or directly into a chute for further processing or disposal. This side dumping feature allowed for quick and efficient unloading of materials, even in confined spaces or areas with limited clearance.

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