Texas Heritage, Volume 18, Number 4, Fall 2000 Page: 15
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Mine walls are unfinished and irregular in plan, ceilings are
shallow, rough-hewn, and unreinforced, and the floors were never
leveled. Some collapse has occurred, but the original walls and
ceilings are evident in many places. Tool marks on the interior
surfaces of these mines and on boulder- and cobble-size rock fragments
within the spoil piles prove that a pick and/or barra was
used exclusively. Many of these marks are deeply weathered, indicating
considerable age. In contrast, fresh tool marks can be seen
in the shaft mines and in those adits that were reworked at a later
date. A few drill holes, used for setting explosive charges, have
been found even at the earliest of the Stotts mines, but the holes
exhibit fresh surfaces relative to the surrounding hand-excavated
walls and clearly represent renewed mining efforts at a more recent
date. An explosion-induced pattern of radial fracturing was
observed in one shaft.
Explosives were probably used in excavating all of the shafts,
which evidently date from the late 1800s. The comparatively
fine texture of the spoil around the mine shafts attests to explosive
fragmentation. These fine fragments appear relatively unweathered.
In contrast, the spoil at the oldest mines is highly
weathered and composed of distinctly coarser, angular blocks,
often with broad smooth faces indicating that the fragments were
wedged out along preexisting natural fractures wherever possible.
Although coarser than the explosion-shattered spoil at the shafts,
the rock fragments at the adits are nearly uniform in size and
...despite the survival of many valid
historical accounts (and) oral traditions...
late 17th through early 19th century
mining in Texas was largely forgotten
and is now generally relegated to the
province of legend.
small enough to permit manual transport, usually by one person.
As noted, reducing waste rock to fine fragments by hand
would require greater effort than that needed to transport fragments
just small enough to be carried easily. Thus, coarse, uniform
spoil is an indicator of hand mining. These differences in
mine design and excavation technology clearly differentiate two
or more periods of mining. It is unlikely that even the most
modest late 19th or.early 20th century mining operations would
have utilized the labor-intensive excavation techniques in evidence
at the oldest of the Stotts mines. A more probable interpretation
is that these mines date from the mid- to late 18th or
early 19th centuries.
(continued on page 35)
HERITAGE * 15 * FALL 2000
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Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Volume 18, Number 4, Fall 2000, periodical, Autumn 2000; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45391/m1/15/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.