Austin, Nevada, six thousand feet above the sea. The metropolis of the Reese river district. Silver first discovered at this point in July, 1862.
A novelty in the way of carrying coal may be seen at the Harewood coal mine, at Nanaimo, British Columbia. The mines are situated at a considerable elevation above the sea-level, and the intermediate ground is covered with trees and rocks, while several deep ravines intercept the grounds. Under such circumstances, the construction of a railway would be costly and require much time, as several viaducts would be required, and the road at some places would have to make considerable curves. The proprietor of the mines therefore decided to avoid all these difficulties, on putting up a wire tramway in a direct line from the mine to the port, by means of which the ravines could be spanned without expense, and the timber on the ground could be converted into the necessary posts.
There are in all ninety-seven posts, put up to such a height that the wire spanned over them forms a softly inclining plane. The distance between them is from 150 to 250 feet. The wire rope is of the best crucible steel, specially made for the purpose, and is 6-1/2 miles in length; each post having a pair of groove-pulleys two feet in diameter, over which the wire moves. The rope is driven at the lower end by an engine of 20 horse-power, which is sufficient to drive the line when carrying 12 tons per hour.
The shaft is frequently called the miners’ tomb; and it is said that the Belgians have intentionally named it The Grave La Fosse).
In some mines, so many accidents have occurred in the shaft, that the men never enter it without fear. Great improvements have been made in the mode of ascending or descending, and at the present day the apparatus is considered nearly perfect.
The first improvement for the protection of men ascending and descending, was to cover the tubs with a roof, or bonnet, so that falling materials would injure nobody. Besides this, the heads of the men are shielded by hats made of sheet iron or stout leather. An indicator is kept in front of the engine man, so that he knows precisely the position of the tub; and if there are two tubs in the shaft, one ascending and the other descending, he may know when they pass on their way. In some coal mines the tubs or cages are double-decked, and some of them have four tiers or decks.
In some English and Scotch mines, and also in some of the French mines, where the seams of coal are thin, boys, who are called “putters,” are employed to draw small carts along a railway. They fasten themselves to the cart with belts around their waists, and draw it along, going sometimes on their hands and feet where the road is wet and rough. Sometimes one of them pulls the cart while the other pushes it. In some of the Scotch mines girls formerly performed this work; but of late the laws do not allow women to work under ground.
Girls used to carry on their backs a basket fastened to a leather strap which passed around their foreheads. A lamp was attached to the strap, and in this way they carried their loads up the long ladders and through the inclines, sometimes a distance of several hundred feet. If a strap broke, a block of coal fell, or a bearer missed her footing, those below were seriously hurt, and many fatal accidents occurred. This primitive mode of raising coal was abolished by law. The owners of the mines had become so careless in regard to the management of their laborers that the government was obliged to interfere.
Rich mines of silver existed in the new world, particularly in Mexico and Peru. The conquest of Mexico by Cortes in 1519 was speedily followed by the development of the rich silver mines of that country. From a very early period the Aztecs had been familiar with silver, and wrought it into many ornamental and useful articles. The mines were opened and extensively worked by the Peruvians in Guanajuato, Zacatecas, and other districts, and their production was greatly increased by the abundance of quicksilver, and its employment in the reduction of ores. Quicksilver is used for this purpose to a greater extent in Mexico and Peru than in other countries.
Pompeii was preserved, and not destroyed. To its inhabitant, on the day of the eruption it was destroyed; but for us who now look upon it, and study its history, it has been preserved.
There was one oven which remained uninjured. It had two openings; the loaves went into one of these, in the shape of dough, and were taken out at the other opening baked. Everything seemed to be in a fine state of preservation, and the oven could be made use of again for a repetition of its work of eighteen centuries ago.
The oven when found was full of bread. Some of the loaves were stamped to indicate that they were of wheat flour, and others to indicate that they were of bran flour. The oven had been carefully sealed, and there were no ashes in it. Eighty-one loaves were found in it, a little stale, to be sure, and very hard and black, but lying in the same order in which they were placed on the 23d of November in the year 79.
Among some of our western tribes of Indians the bodies of the dead are placed on scaffoldings of poles several feet high, and there left to the action of the elements. This practice had its origin in the absence of all tools suitable for digging in the earth, and possibly from a vague theory that the body of the deceased should be raised towards the home of the Great Spirit beyond the skies.