Sad Sample

by kfrego

Mining the tunnels at Gold Run in the California foothills of the famous mother lode country was a great experience. There is nothing more beautiful than one of mother natures large gold nuggets retrieved from your mining operations. The golden flow of fine gold flakes across a concentrating table during milling and recovery of the gold is a sight to behold. The small mill at Gold Run recovered a considerable amount of gold on a daily basis.

One of the important parts of mineral mining is the collection of ore samples to provide engineering and data for future mining operations. If sampling was located where it would interfere with the mining operations it wasn’t uncommon for a couple of us to go out on a Saturday morning to obtain the samples. We frequently took “cut samples” at regular intervals from the side of the tunnels. The sample is obtained by cutting a twelve inch wide slot, from top to bottom, down the side of the tunnel with a thirty pound spader. A spader is a small version of a pavement breaker. The rock is collected in buckets or burlap bags and tagged for pertinent information. At Gold Run we would work out of the bucket of a mucking machine to get the samples.

Myself and Mike Janzeski were discussing some Saturday sampling at Gates & Fox’s home office. One of the engineer estimators who worked full time in the office asked if he could join us to see the mine. We picked him up on our way to the mine on Saturday. After observing several samples the engineer asked if he could spade out a section of a sample. He had never operated a spader before, but was young and in good physical shape. The three of us were in the eight foot wide mucker bucket a few feet off the ground. We demonstrated proper handling and methods before letting him work with the spader. He was doing pretty well until he lost control of the spader. The spader has a “D” style handle with the air trigger inside of it. The engineer lost grip with one hand and the spader point glanced off the rock. Being out of balance the engineer was holding the spader with his hand on the trigger. As luck would have it, the point went into his foot about two inches behind the steel toe of his boot. The point of the spader went completely through his boot and was bouncing on the bottom of the mucker bucket. He was holding the trigger down and couldn’t let go of the spader. The spader created a deafening noise in the confined tunnel as it rattled on the bottom of the steel bucket with his foot vibrating up and down on the one inch steel point. Mike and I crimped off the air hose to the spader and pulled it out of his foot. The entire incident didn’t last over a minute, but the harm was done. The engineer never came back to the mine. He fully recovered from the foot damage.

The little thirty pound spader kicked the engineers butt…………and he took it like man.

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