Photo courtesy of Mac and Grace (Sanders) McMullin
While this derrick wasn't in Cardin, (It was the
last underground tour, near the intersection of
highways 69a and 66) it is typical of the derricks in the area. These structures were commonly
called "mines". The mine, of course, was down the shaft. You could tell "old" derricks from
"new" derricks, because the old ones were made of wood. The highest part of the derrick was the
Hoist Room. From there, the "Hoister man" raised and lowered whatever went up or down the shaft.
He was the "elevator operator". The left side, (in the picture) was the "hopper", where the rock
was held, awaiting train cars or trucks to transport it to a mill. These structures were so tall
and caught so much wind that they had supporting "guy" wires. The small building on the right was the
"Powerhouse", simply, the junction boxes, and fuses controlling electrical power to the site.
Not shown is the "dog house", where the miners changed to and from their "street clothes", wearing
"work" clothes at work. It was a dirty job. The building extending from the shaft enclosure, was not
typical, but added to keep the tourists out of the weather. Many mines did not have the shaft enclosure.
This picture was obviously taken after the mine had ceased operation, because of the missing tin and
parts of the stairway. These derricks were great pigeon houses, and many a CardinKid climbed around in
them at night with a flashlight and gunny sack, adding to their flock.
The placement of shafts, and the depth and
concentration of the ore was determined by drilling
holes, usually 6" diameter, and cased with steel pipe from the surface to solid rock. There
were thousands of these holes drilled in the area. The "casing", as well as the "cribbing"
of the shafts was to prevent the soft earth from collapsing into the hole. The cribbing
in the shafts was of creosote soaked timbers. Of course, steel rusts, and even creosote
soaked wood rots, leaving the danger we have today.
In the early days, every mine had a mill
to process the ore. That's the reason for so many
chat piles in the area. In later years, there were only a few mills receiving the ore-laden rock
from the mines, via truck and rail, and creating even bigger chat piles.
In earlier times, also, a short trolley track
was often extended from the Hoist Room, and rock would
be simply dumped from the mine until they reached mineral, creating the rock piles you see today.
A much smaller structure, usually used by "wildcatters", was known as a "Gouge". It was much shorter,
and cheaper to build, because it had no hopper. A gouge was just a hoist room on stilts. It simply
dumped the rock on the ground, to be loaded into trucks by steam shovel.
Many people today, refer to any and every
structure concerning the retrieval or refining of ore
as a mine. In reality, a mine did not require an above ground structure. I am
personally guilty of calling derricks "mines".