Friday, March 29, 2013

Things You Find in the Field: Metal Bars, Mine Dump, and Adit

Going up the trail of our old hiking hill in eastern Nevada...
...we'd run right below this old mine dump kind of sprawled across the terrain, with large piñon and juniper trees growing around it and small piñon, sagebrush, and ephedra growing on it. I suspect the trail is partly an old miner's or mule trail put in to access the small mine.
At the base of the dump lie a few pieces of metal.
The metal bars are flat and elongate, with drilled holes at some undefined or irregular spacing. I have no idea what these were used for. At first I thought they had something to do with an old rail-and-cart mining system, but closer examination shows they are too flat to be regular track of any sort.

UPDATE 31Mar2013: The metal bars may be pieces of "strap rail," which would have been attached to wood to create an inexpensive rail system. H/t Guy Starbuck in the comments below; be sure to check out his fine website and blog, Starbuck's Exploring | Exploring historic mine camps and petroglyph sites of the Southwest.
The trail then goes uphill to the side of the dump...
...and peters out into a somewhat slumpy area of soft talus. We usually continue up to the top of the hill from here on a poorly defined trail, but today, let's go examine the top of the dump.
A small opening at the top of the mine dump goes into limestone bedrock.
Let's look a little closer!
Standing on the somewhat caved material at the adit portal, looking inside...
...we see one of those mysterious pieces of metal [see update above] sticking out from limestone debris lying on the sill (what a layman might call the "floor").
Not sure what this writing is all about.
The iron bar points down the adit.
In the back and upper ribs of the adit ("top" and "sides"), a darker, less oxidized limestone can be distinguished from a lower, yellowish orange limestone. This contact would be mappable underground only where it crosses the right rib at waist level, which it might right near the adit portal.
Using the flash of my camera, we can see that the adit continues quite a ways into the hillside.
Now, back on the mine dump, we look south toward Ward Mountain
in the Egan Range.
Looking over the edge, we see the metal bars [strap rail?] at the base of the dump. Shall we go back down?
I don't remember if this was a great boot-skiing dump. I think I went around the side to get back to the bottom.
Three metal bars in the sun.
Closer view: metal bars and ephedra.
Looking back toward the metal bars, we decide to hike back down the hill.

2 comments:

Guy Starbuck said...

Your first guess is probably right on those metal bars. They look like "strap rail" to me. They were put on top of wood for a cheap rail system.

I'll see if I can dig up some photos.
http://starbuck.org/exploring/

Silver Fox said...

Cool! Looking forward to some photos if you find them.