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Extracting the Ore

by Todd Underwood

The Pick and Shovel Method
The most simple and inexpensive way of extracting ore for the early miners was the Pick and Shovel method. Miners would swing picks into the rock, slowly breaking it apart.

Pick Heads

Once enough rock had been removed, it would be shoveled away to be assayed or milled. The pick and shovel method was about the slowest way to extract ore for the miners and prospectors. It also took a lot of strength and would tire them out very quickly. Almost all of the major ore discoveries were done using this method.

Rock Drilling
As technololy advanced, and the need for more efficient methods of extracting rock prevailed, miners starting drilling the rock with rock drills (pictured left). Once an ore body was disovered, people would move in immediately creating a small town. Equipment and machinery was brought in to start large mining operations. Among this machinery were large steam boilers to power air compressors. These compressors would be used to power the pneumatic (air powered) rock drills. The rock drills looked something like the modern jack hammer and hard very hard bits (pictured right) on the end. Rock drilling was a much faster and more efficient way to extract ore than the pick and shovel method. Sometimes, rock drills would be used to make holes in rock face into which dynamite or other explosives were placed.

Core Sampling
Core sampling was done to test or assay the value of a particular area of rock without having to go through the trouble of removing the whole area.

Core Sampler

Core samplers would be drilled into a rock face and would extract a small core sample. This core sample would usually be a few inches in diameter and up to a few feet long. The core sampler could drill deep into the rock face without having to removed the whole area of rock. Core samples would then be assayed to determine the feasibility of mining in that particular area.


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Rock Drill Bits

Air Hose and cart used to deliver air to the rock drills

Rock Drill Sharpener

Early Air Compressor

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