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Salmo River Valley Historical Mining Exhibit

Reno Bullwheel (Medium).JPG


In the early days of mining, particularly in rugged and mountainous terrain, the transportation of ore and materials presented significant challenges. This is where the aerial tramway bull wheel played a pivotal role. Essentially, the bull wheel was a large wheel typically made of steel or iron, mounted horizontally, and positioned at either end of an aerial tramway system. It served as the primary mechanism for supporting and guiding the cables that carried the ore buckets or carts along the tramway.

The bull wheel's design was ingenious yet simple. It featured a series of grooves or compartments around its circumference, strategically placed to accommodate the tramway cables. These cables were tightly wound around the bull wheel, with one end attached to the loaded ore buckets at higher elevations and the other end connected to a counterweight or anchor point at lower elevations. As the bull wheel rotated, it effectively pulled the loaded buckets up the incline or lowered them down, depending on the direction of rotation and the weight distribution.

This system relied on the force of gravity to facilitate the movement of materials along the tramway. The bull wheel's sturdy construction and precise engineering ensured smooth operation, even over long distances and challenging terrain. By harnessing the power of the bull wheel, miners could efficiently transport ore from remote mining sites to processing facilities or transportation hubs, significantly reducing the labor and resources required for manual hauling. As a result, aerial tramway systems revolutionized the mining industry, enabling the extraction of valuable resources from otherwise inaccessible locations and contributing to the expansion and development of mining operations in rugged landscapes around the world.

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