Donald Hardesty

Mining Technology in the Nineteenth Century

Mining technology consists of the tools, methods, and knowledge used to locate, extract, and process mineral and metal deposits in the earth. The methods used to locate ore bodies range from on-the-ground reconnaissance by prospectors to remote sensing techniques such as satellite imagery. Mine excavations take place either on the surface or underground.

Hardrock Mining

Early hardrock miners in Nevada used a traditional technology derived from medieval Europe, Spanish Colonial America, and China. They dug open "glory holes" or shallow shafts down to a depth of 100-200 feet to reach the ore body. Once underground, the miners dug "ratholes" to follow the ore body. Miners used gear trains, cams, pistons, and cylinders to construct simple pumping, hoisting, transporting, and grinding machines.

Cortez Mining District

Nine prospectors led by Andrew A. Veatch organized the Cortez mining district in 1863 after finding silver in central Nevada's Cortez Mountains. Financier George Hearst invested heavily in the district's earliest development. After initially shipping ore to Austin, the miners constructed a Washoe Process pan amalgamation mill the following year and in 1865 installed Reese River Process equipment.

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