A few months ago I completed the research and wrote the sections about Virginia City and the Comstock Lode,
and am transcribing them from my … scribbles to Scrivener, and I’m in the chapters about the Comstock Lode, in Virginia City and Gold Hill areas of what was then Utah Territory, and is now the state of Nevada.
The Comstock had a unique problem, for the West. Unlike gold lying in veins of quartz between solid rock, as is found in the California mines, in Virginia City, copious silver existed in the mix of loose quartz and clay making up the rich lode. Unfortunately, the composition made the lode highly unstable, as repeated dehydration and re-wetting of the rock mix made it alternately swell and shrink. The timbering methods used up until the advent of Philipp’s invention were unable to hold back the loose rock and keep the tunnels open, resulting in frequent and fatal cave-ins.
Philipp was brought from California to try to solve the problem the miners in the Comstock Lode were experiencing. He made it work, and his square-set timbering was to become the gold standard in mining for the next fifty years.
Well done, Philipp!
Here is square-set timbering!
(this and following from:Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology
I really liked this one, because it shows the miners in it…
…and how it was made in situ. (From the Nevada State MuseumPhotograph Collection)
This from the Eureka Miner’s Report, photo is of a mine in the Dakotas:
And the man himself, who started it all, at the Ophir Mine in Virginia City, Mr. Philipp Deidesheimer. One can only assume that is his lady wife.
I came across a reference to an episode on the old Western serial Bonanza and looked it up. Just finished watching it! While the show varies a bit from what I’ve read in the research, it’s a good little watch, and will give you a good idea of how the square-set timbering method described in Hills of Gold works!
Here’s the link for it!
Back to writing!
NB: A big thank you to all of those people who have placed such wonderful photos and drawings on their websites!