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blankets and poles to form tents, and a few implements and cooking vessels of the simplest kind. During the winter of 1868-9, great hardships were endured ; some of the men sleeping under canvas in piercing cold, some trudging to and from Helmsdale every day. The operations were of a very simple kind, involving no boring or blasting. The diggers, with pickaxes and crowbars, broke up the alluvial deposits which had been washed by the stream into the crevices of the rocks. Basins, frying-pans, &c. were filled with this earth, and washed in the stream until everything was washed away but small spangles of gold. These spangles were so few as greatly to dishearten most of the diggers. When washing apparatus of a little better kind was used, the produce was somewhat increased. In the month of August 1869, about 300 persons were employed at Kildonan in gold-digging; and as bakers, butchers, and storedealers had followed in their wake, the semblance of a small colony was making itself apparent. Indeed, two clusters of this singularly located community invented Gaelic names for their settlements, equivalent to‘Gold City' and 'Tent Town. Not so much for the sake of profit, as to avoid occasions for dispute, the Duke of Sutherland granted licenses to the diggers, each for a certain area of ground. Many experienced miners from Australia have expressed a belief that the alluvial gold met with in Kildonan strath will be small in quantity (the largest nugget recorded weighed only 2 oz. 20 grains); and that, if the precious metal exists in quartz rock near at hand, it must be worked by better combinations of labour and machinery than have hitherto reached that spot. The Sutherland diggings have suggested the probability of gold deposits being met with in many other parts of Scotland, especially in the districts of Breadalbane, Braemar, Galloway, Lammermuir, Tweedmuir, and the hilly parts of Argyle, Ross, and Inverness. The Caledonian, the Deeside, and the Highland Railways give easy access to many of these spots.
METHODS OF GOLD-MINING. The foregoing pages convey some information concerning the processes by which the precious metal is obtained from the soil. But it may be desirable to give fuller particulars. The best way, perhaps, will be to suppose a party of men going out to a new gold-district, or to new diggings in a district already partially occupied—to begin at the beginning, and thus trace the manner in which the operations develop themselves.
It has been found by experience that a gold-digging party should consist of not fewer than four people. To pursue the occupation to the best advantage of health and comfort, and therefore permanent profit, they should be provided with a small tent, with a stock of blankets, and a sufficiency of coarse clothing to afford a change from wet to dry, with a cradle, and a stock of pickaxes, crowbars, and shovels. A wheel-barrow, a sieve or two, and one or two flat tin dishes, like milk-pans, are also necessary. For food, a stock of flour, of tea and sugar, and perhaps of salt pork, is necessary. A strong, light one-horse dray or cart is about the best conveyance on which to pack and carry these așticles, the party proceeding for the most part on foot. If they are going to explore new ground, they should have some previous knowledge or experience to guide them in the search, it being absolutely necessary that they should know what kind of rock, or what kind of ground, will not produce gold, in order that they may avoid wasting their time on it. We will suppose them to have reached a probably auriferous region, through which it is possible somehow to get their dray. They arrive at the bed of a water-course or river, and they succeed in finding a water-hole. The dray is stopped in the most convenient spot, and set up for the night without unpacking. The horse is taken out and watered, and then tethered in the best spot of grass that can be found ; meanwhile a fire is lighted, and the kettle set on to boil. If the 'damper' has been all exhausted at the last meal, one of the party proceeds to make another after the following fashion : He selects some smooth flat stone, or slab of rock, on which he lights a fire, and accumulates a mass of glowing embers. He then takes one of the tin dishes, half fills it with four, which he mixes with water into a stiff paste; and when the slab of stone is sufficiently heated, he brushes aside the embers, spreads the paste upon it, and then piles the embers over it again, till it is baked into a roundish flat cake, about a foot in diameter, and an inch in thickness. But whether a damper or a loaf, a rasher or a steak, tea or coffee, beer or spirits, our party take their meal according to the exigencies of the situation. The horse is re-watered and re-tethered in a fresh locality, if necessary, and then wrapping himself in a blanket, each man lies and sleeps where he finished his supper. If it were in a very remote district, it would be wise if each one kept watch in turn through the night, with a gun loaded in his hand, to guard against possible mischief.
At earliest dawn, or before it, all hands would be astir, and while one prepared the breakfast, and another attended to the horse, the two others would probably be searching the bed of the river, or prospecting for gold. Digging down at some sandy spot, spadeful after spadeful of the earth would be carried in the tin pan to the water, half immersed, and then gently agitated, and shaken round and round till any particle of gold would have time to sink to the bottom of the mass. The coarse stuff is frequently skimmed off and thrown away, care being taken, of course, to throw away no visible pebble or nugget of gold; and the washing and sifting continued until nothing but a little sand, perhaps, is left, and this is carefully examined to see if it contain gold. When gold occurs, and probably also when it does not, there is often found a heavy metallic sand, said to be titaniferous iron ore (called in Australia “emery'), and possibly other minerals in a fine state of comminution. Should this trial be unsuccessful, our party pack up their traps, and continue their journey, choosing the easiest and openest route for their cart, which one or two of them accompany, while the others explore the river at other places, or search in the beds of its lateral creeks. Eventually, perhaps, they stumble on some rich diggings, when of course they set up their tent, unpack their cradle and tools, and set to work in real earnest. One of their number will then perhaps have to start to the nearest town or station for a fresh supply of provisions, and thus the news of their success becoming known, other persons follow them, and a great camp, or perhaps the elements of a town, is formed.
If, in place of exploring for themselves, our party go at once to a well-known locality already partially occupied, they will of course have to select a spot still untouched, or to purchase a partially explored one. In either case, they will have a certain plot of ground marked out for them, and each will have to take out a license to dig. Having procured their licenses, settled their claims, set up their tent, and made arrangement for the supply of food, the party set to work. If they have any depth of soil or earth to clear away, it will be necessary that two should work at the actual diggings, one should wheel the earth to the cradle, which the fourth should rock and keep supplied with water. The ordinary cradle very much resembles in form the domestic article from which it takes its name. It is, however, open at the foot; while at the head, instead of a hood, it has a sieve fixed like a gravel-sifter's; and across the bottom, inside, there are one or two cleats or wooden bars nailed.
On bringing the earth to the cradle, a shovelful of it is thrown upon the sieve, and a ladleful of water poured over it. More earth and more water are added alternately, the cradle all the while being kept in motion by rocking, until the sieve is full of the larger pebbles or fragments of rock. When that is the case, the sieve is carefully examined, to see whether it contains any large nuggets of gold, and the fragments are then thrown away. The water thrown into the head of the cradle carries away all the mud and sand out at the foot; but as its current is arrested by the cleats or bars across the bottom, it deposits against them most of the golden dust and scales that it contained. This common cradle is, however, a rather wasteful contrivance, as a large quantity of the very finest and thinnest gold-dust is apt still to be carried away with the mud and sand out of the cradle, and lost. The Californian cradle, is, therefore, adopted whenever it can be obtained. This contains a compartment full of quicksilver, through which all the mud and sand is made to pass. Now, quicksilver has such a love for gold, and the affection is so mutual, that whenever they come in contact, they immediately unite and form an "amalgam,'a compound of gold and quicksilver, which it requires a very powerful heat to dissolve. The quicksilver thus licks every particle of gold out of the earth; and when the amalgam is put into a proper apparatus, and the requisite heat applied, it is sublimed into fumes, lets go the gold, which falls down pure, while the fumes may be caught in a separate chamber, and recooled back into quicksilver again.
Whichever cradle they may use, our adventurers must now live a life of great toil, of some hardship and privation, and of great monotony. The rising sun must find them at their work, and when setting, look with an approving eye as they are preparing only to finish their labours. As the sun himself is, in those latitudes, a very regular and steady-going character, rarely varying more than half an hour from six o'clock in his rising and setting, this will give twelve regular hours of labour throughout the year. To unwonted hands and sinews, twelve hours at pickaxe and spade, even if varied by a turn at the wheel-barrow, or at the water-scoop and cradle, are quite sufficient to make sunset no unwelcome sight. Then comes the hour of tea and damper, of lying at the tent-door in the cool air, made fragrant by the evening pipe, with the dews falling around from the clear Australian sky, in which the stars glisten and sparkle like living gems—the hour of silence, broken only, perhaps, by the distant howl of a wild-dog, or the plaintive cry of the thick-knee'd plover, or perhaps by the confounded hum of half-a-dozen mosquitoes, that come buzzing around you, looking for a soft place in which to insinuate their long, stinging proboscides, and make you start from your reveries, inclined to devote all the race of gnats as an offering to the infernal deities. Still, wearied with the day's toil, our party sleep, in spite of mosquitoes and all other discomforts-soothed, perhaps, by the remembrance of the ever-expanding little bag of gold-dust, the reward of their labours. Even at their daily digging, the constant chance of a rich prize, that may turn up at any moment, tends to keep men to their work as no other inducement would, and perpetuate an excitement which makes labour pass unnoticed, that, under other circumstances, would be felt as irksome and distressing beyond endurance.
With regard to the actual diggers at the two great scenes of industry, it may be remarked that, unlike California, the order and regularity among the gold-diggers of Australia, and especially of New South Wales, has been something wonderful. A writer, speaking of the period soon after the discovery, said: 'Sunday has been kept sacred from toil, as it were by common consent, and in many places service has been performed with great regularity. Disputes have been referred to the commissioners, and their decision at once accepted; and little robbery or violence has as yet taken place. With the consciousness of this peace and order reigning among so rough and miscellaneous an assemblage, it must be an interesting sight to look down from some wooded eminence on one of these auriferous valleys, to see the lines and clusters of tents of all kinds, from the canvas marquee to the little bark “gunyah,” gleaming in the sunshine, or peeping out here and there among the bush; and to look on several thousand men, in red or blue woollen shirts, with cabbage-tree hats, and “bearded like the pard,” all busily and eagerly intent on their work; some digging, some wheeling and carrying, some washing and rocking, each acting independently, and yet all working together, with a willingness, intentness, and pertinacity, that nothing but the expectation of immediate gain could rouse in so many men at once. Notwithstanding the business and the work, or perhaps in consequence of it, silence is said to reign over the scene, undisturbed except by the hum of the rocker or the wheel-barrow, or the taps of the picks.'
But we must now say something concerning the quartz diggings. The underground working for gold does not differ materially in character from that of metallic minerals generally. In some districts a band of rock contains veins of quartz in which gold is disseminated; and the mining processes depend in detail on the direction which the veins take-access being obtained by vertical shafts and lateral galleries. The auriferous vein may be quartzose, or talc-slate, or pyritical, or any one of many different kinds, and the mining processes vary somewhat according to this circumstance; but in Australia and California the predominant gold-vein is quartz. In one place the vein averages about three feet in width, and stands vertically between walls of talcose slate; in others, talcose or quartzose, the vein is horizontal, inclined, or even tortuous. A vein sometimes thins away to nothing ; and one vein may contain a hundred-fold as much gold as another. The actual facts cannot be ascertained without excavating. A shaft may be twenty or thirty feet deep, or may be (and is in some instances) as much as five hundred feet. Subject to exceptions here and there, a quartz vein will yield gold down to a certain depth, then gold and mundic (iron pyrites and other minerals), and finally mundic without gold. There is thus much of the excitement of speculation in quartz-mining, though not so much as in nugget-searching and sand-washing. The mode of sinking shafts and driving galleries does not differ materially from that adopted in the copper and tin mines of Cornwall; nor does the employment of the blasting-fuse, the pick, and the shovel need description. The upper-ground works connected with this kind of gold-mining embrace the following: (1.) The quartz or other vein-ore, brought up in pieces of any size, is crushed to a fine powder, usually by means of a stamping-inill worked by steam or water-power. (2.) The powder is plentifully washed with water, to carry off all the quartz and light mineral matter. (3.) Mercury or quicksilver is added to the remaining powder (that which contains the gold); the mercury and the gold unite by their intense affinity,