July 24, 2000
Cold and drizzly today, I guess last week was our summer. People worked like hell last week to cut the hay, bail it and get it in before it started to rain again. I guess they get a break until the weather changes back to dry and sunny.
Dave took the day off, he had some things to take care of. Byron and I took up a couple of Dave's "mates" who wanted to see the mine. Most people who have worked in the local mines have never seen a "flat" intact and they are always impressed.
Today's job was to work in the pocket zone and clear as much material out as possible to be able to drill and blast to push the tunnel through the "flats". I took off around 10 to meet my brother in Wolsingham and bring he and his wife up to the mine. They're spending 2 weeks tooling around England and Scotland and only spending one day in the Dale.
Byron used the diamond chain saw to cut out the floor and ceiling of the cavity that was opened near the face. The last piece to come out was incredible. You could see hanging from the ceiling was a flat section of Limestone with galena and little to no fluorite. You could, however, feel up behind it quit a distance and feel fluorite cubes on the backside. Byron cut up diagonally in several places and when it finally came out it was better than we could have imagined. Of course, it always looks better fresh from the mine. I'll describe it tomorrow since I didn't want to carry it to the car parked some distance from the mine.
It's ironic, the fluorite is always better on the side you can't see. OK, you might say then the good fluorite is consistently on the west side of the plates hanging from the ceiling (we are working in a westerly direction and the good plates always come from the ceiling). But last year, in the same "flat", Byron was working in an easterly direction and the same was true there, the fluorite was better on the side you couldn't see. Go figure, it must be one of Murphy's Mining Laws.
We still have specimens to come out before we can do any blasting. Byron now wants to change direction of the tunnel and bring up the floor of the cavity he is currently working in to be able to reach farther in. We will discuss this with Cal again but had already agreed that priority was to push through the "flat" and just remove specimens that might be damaged by blasting. The rest can wait till we see if it gets better as we move deeper into the "flat". We can always come back and work the area some more later. If we start widening the tunnel it will warrant timbering and that is time consuming. The clock is ticking down and we only have 5 weeks before the scheduled closer of the mine and time flies when you're having fun.
Till tomorrow, Cheers, Jim