August 23, 2000
We had another beautiful day, a Tee-shirt kind of day. The midges were out in force too, I suppose they know that the warm days are numbered and are trying to get in as many days out as possible.
We had an extra person today, Stan from Tucson, AZ, helping Byron with collecting and wrapping. I lost count on how many tubs went down the gondola but we filled the back of two cars with them. Needless to say that's a lot of specimens and some were very good quality. Everyone agrees that this year's production is better than last year's material and this pocket is a different pocket from last year also. When Jesse returns from visiting Scotland, he and I will do a complete mine survey and see what is really going on.
Dave and I timbered up to the face in Mick and Lindsay's tunnel and now I feel relatively safe in there again. Everything is tied together and we even drilled four holes and peg the post we put in yesterday to the wall. We drilled those holes at the same time as we drill the face for the last time this year. Since we only had a certain number of caps and sticks of explosive left, we only drilled 6 holes but probably could have used a few more. We had 4 caps remaining and a few "pills" (sticks of powder) left for Byron's pocket to help with some lifters as needed to complete our collecting for the season.
After Dave and I drilled the holes in Mick and Lindsay's tunnel and before we set off the charges, we drilled some lifters in the cavity in the New Drift. It is not easy drilling holes in a 3 foot high rat hole and on top of that, the drill took a dump on us. Sparks started coming out of the exhaust port, never have I seen that before in all the years of drilling. The machine seized once and we were able to get it going again by adding drilling oil directly in the drill and then hitting it with a hammer. It seized a second time and we weren't able to get it started again. We were only able to drill 2 hole instead of the 3 Byron wanted and one had a steel stuck in it so we were only able to pop one hole for him. I guess if the drill is going to quit on us this is a good time to do it, at the end of the season.
Byron told us that the rock in the New Drift has been talking to him. No, he's not going crazy, it means the rock is moving and needs some support. I wanted to timber the entrance to his rat hole some time ago but he said it would take up to much room. Now there are crack appearing in the wall above the entrance and it is putting him and our timbers at risk. Before we quit for the year in there I will place some timbers to keep the tunnel from collapsing over the winter. If it's not one thing it's another. Tomorrow, I will muck out Mick and Lindsay's tunnel for the last time and collect any specimens I can find in there. That will be it for this year in there. Then I will move over and help Byron with the cavity in the New Drift. Dave won't be with us Thurs and Fri but will help over the weekend, then he's off to the Isle of Man for a motorcycle race all next week, so everything gets wrapped up this weekend. Over the winter, Dave will be coming in and doing some maintenance work in the tunnel and to some of the equipment, i.e., the drill(s) and the mucker bucket (it's falling apart). And also to keep an eye on things.
Seeing light at the end of the tunnel, only a few more days left.
Till tomorrow, Cheers, Jim
Well, Kerith and I awoke fairly early Tuesday morning to a very pretty morning but it began to cloud up quickly, the rest of the day the sun played tag with the clouds but the temperatures rose to about 70 so it was near perfect weather. We had planned to leave early in the morning for Kendal to see Lindsay Greenbank but in checking my emails I had one from our friends Don and Jane Edwards in Tideswell that they would be up in the morning and would like to visit the mine. I quickly phoned over to Kendal to let them know we would be there late afternoon. Stan Esbenshade was leaving early to drive over to Cumbria and the Egremont area to check the Florence mine for potential wholesale material, we gave him keys to the Drapery and bid him adieu about 9:00 a.m. Around ten Kerith and I drove over to the Rogerley mine to await the Edwards. Byron was busy collecting specimens and Jim and Dave were working on the final bit of cribbing and lagging in the old face to make it safer. Byron had a stack of specimens around him so I spent some time just wrapping and Kerith sorted through the screen for 'cuties'. We have built up a large amount of pocket mud full of thumbnails, small miniatures and, of course, lots of bits and pieces. There is no time to wash all this, we threw much of it away last year, but the quality is so much better that this year I am having Byron just put it into tubs with lids and will send it home. Hope that customs does not go completely through the load and give us a hard time with about 6 or 8 containers full of famous Rogerley mud. It will be fun to have a 'mud party' and pick out crystals.
Around 11:15 or so Don and Jane and daughter, Sophie, arrived and we had a brief tour. Don, being in the mineral business, spent a good deal of time looking in and around the pockets. Sophie took the tour and worked at staying clean -- an impossible task. Jane was not going to go us since she is still recovering from nearly dying in Estonia and a three day antique buying trip about 3 months ago and ended up spending two weeks in intensive care there and another in England when a tumor (benign) punctured her intestine wall and she ended up with acute peritonitis. But upon some urging from Don made it up the ladders and had a great time, they are hoping to reconnect her intestine sometime in the next couple of months so we wish them luck. All are planning on being in Tucson, Don, as usual, in Denver.
We repaired to the Drapery where Kerith had enchiladas and salad ready for lunch. Afterwards, a quick trip up to Little Allercleugh to see what we do and they took off for Hexham to an antique fair for Don and Jane and shopping for Sophie. We left for Kendal about 1:45 p.m It was a fantastic drive over, the weather was clear and the town of Alston was hopping and Alston Moor had the heather blooming everywhere and the drive down the escarpment you could see the Lake District mountains and just make out the sea far away and a silvery backdrop.
We had forgotten our map but memory served us well enough to get into Kendal and Lindsay's house via the back roads without a hitch by 3:45 p.m. I had brought over some of the better specimens and shared them with Lindsay and it was an opportunity to compare this summer's production with the best from their mining of 17 years in the mine. Certainly nothing even close to the two large stalactites and the large gem twins we have far exceed in size -- and color -- anything they found, we have yet to produce a couple of plates full of nothing but gem twins but these too will come, I'm sure in time. We drove up to the Castle Rigg hotel for dinner, just a mile up the road with a wonderful view of the castle, the home of one of Henry the VIII's many wives. Dinner lasted late and thankfully with the wine consumed, home and bed was close by. The guest rooms in casa Greenbank are up five flights of stairs and nicely appointed. Next morning I found they had a very nice bathroom replete with alka seltzer and aspirin -- if you ever have dinner with Lindsay these become mandatory items.
The next morning we got up, ate and discussed possible future mining projects in the north and looked at the economics of various ones. When you bundle it all together, sadly not many. So much water around here and the older mines encountered much of the best fluorite or calcite or barite quite deep so most is deep deep under the water table.
We got to viewing the collection, and begging for one of the remaining copies of the collection book, put together by Patricia when Lindsay was so ill two years back. There are only 50 and all were committed save two. Begged for another to give to Leonard but no go unless he flies over himself. We found a few specimens we could not live without and located the Florence mine hematite included quartz on specular hematite and kidney ore we think Tim Sherburn wants. Several of the hugely expensive specimens are gone including the world's most expensive English pyromorphite, in fact, all the pryomorphites were gone save a few scummy ones. Lindsay will be bringing over a display to Tucson and a case of specimens for sale in the UKMV booth which should bring people over we hope, he will not be bringing any Rogerley fluorite but doubt it would sell, his three collection pieces are all in the 4000-7000 pound range.
We left Wednesday morning from Kendal about 11:30 a.m. Another glorious day in the west, not a cloud in the sky and no wind and temperatures already over 70 before noon in Kendal. Weardale is rarely as fortunate as the west even though it is only 70 miles to the east. But we too had fabulous weather, if not as warm. We got back to the Drapery about 1:45p.m., had lunch, changed clothes and headed off to the Rogerley mine. Got there and found Stan in the watercourse back in the new tunnel on his belly and probably as dirty as anyone has ever got in the living history of man. He had pulled a nice block out of the floor with glassy cubes to over 1" on it and was working on a small seam that appeared to be opening up. His hands were so muddy that when I came by he had about 1.5" of caked on mud giving them a 5" thick appearance. He had several nice small plates of fluorite stuck to his hands that he could not get off that I had to extract. Earlier he and Byron had wrapped about 10 tubs of fluorite up which were sitting outside waiting to make the journey down to the cars. I went outside and found the chaps from the compressor company buy who wanted to look at our old one, I went and got Jim Clanin who told them what was wrong and what had been done. While he chatted with them I went back and helped Dave Beadle drill four holes around the new support timber in the old tunnel which we are going to make "U" shaped metals pins to go in and make sure it stays since it supports some very important timber, cribbing and lagging. Jim came and let me know he was done answering questions and they were going to move drill and put in a couple of 'lifter' shots in the new pocket so Byron could get better access to the back of the pocket which appears to be opening up again. I went outside and down the stairs to make up a receipt and receive the 1000 pounds for our dead compressor. Afterwards, I went up and found Stan, looking more like one of the brothers, having been forcibly removed from his work area due to drilling. He went down to clean up and I started sending him the tubs of specimens down the haulage line. About 4:15 p.m. Jim came out and said that the drill had just died and we had a 6' steel stuck in the hole, they were going to go ahead and load both the old face and one drilled lifter hole to shoot it before we left and see the results this morning.
We loaded all the tubs into our and Stan's vehicle -- filling the back of both, but at least the Peugeot's back was empty and easier for Dave to climb into. We took off to get back and clean up for the barbeque at 7:00 p.m. up at Allercleugh that the Rowes were giving to our crew, ourselves, Stan, Mari and John Land, their son, Colin and his wife Rachel, recently returned from Jordan. Had a great time but we were beat so went back home to hearth and bed about 9:30 p.m. Stan left at some ungodly hour this morning to drive the 40 miles to Darlington to catch the 7:00 a.m. train to London and back to Ohio.
Anyhow, that is all the new from way up here somewhere way north of Lake Woebegone. Regards, C&K