August 25, 2000
Another glorious day here, a nice warm sunshine and dry, no mud. Outside that is, can't say the same for the mine. We have had 4 days of sunshine in a row, something is bound to happen because tomorrow is the town fair for St. Johns Chapel. We are planning to attend the fair for a half day tomorrow so I'll let you know what it is all about.
Byron and I worked alone again today. Dave will be with us for the weekend and will essentially be the last mining days before we close down for the winter.
Since, in the last few weeks, I've been working primarily in Mick and Lindsay's tunnel I haven't spent much time the New Drift unless Byron needed some drilling done. A few days ago was the first time in a while to actually work in there and I noticed some major cracks forming in the wall above the small entrance to the cavity. I had wanted to timber this some time ago to be prudent but was voted down. Now there is no doubt that this needs to be timbered so I set out first thing this morning timbering. Well, actually, the first thing that I did was to pack fluorites that were in every available spot in the tunnel so I had room to dig and place timbers. That resulted in three and half tubs of specimens. The timbering was quit simple, one set with 2 posts (legs) and one cap across the entire opening and a leg outside the cavity in the tunnel to help hold up one of our cross pieces in the New Drift ceiling.
Byron needed some more lifters to finish cleaning out the edges of the cavity and since our drill took a dump on us he tried out a small hand drill that looks more like a chipping hammer than a drill. The hole it drilled was slightly smaller and shorter than a normal drill steel and he had no problem putting in three holes. After he blasted I helped him muck out the shoots in-between my timbering. Near the end of the day and after Cal had left, the pocket we thought was pinching opened back up and is now producing more high quality specimens. It is about 10 inches of mud in the back of the pocket and shows no sign of pinching. There was a tight spot between the 2 cavities and who knows what may be beyond the other areas where the seam seems to be pinching. We will produce like banshees between now and when we have to load the shipping containers.
Cal and Kerith were here late in the afternoon with Ian Forbes, manager of Killhope, for a tour. Ian was impressed with the new cavity and our tunneling. Soon after Ian and his wife arrived another gentleman (can't remember his name) and his daughter arrived to see the mine. They all left before Alistair could lock the gate for the mill, he always closes early on Friday and I moved the car around to the back side and walked back to the mine to help Byron close it up for the day.
Whenever I have some time I wander around looking for Frosterley Marble, a black marble with white horn corals. It is the same material that the columns in the Durham Cathedral are made from. There is actually are two on going seams of this marble running through the entire Great Limestone and I was looking for good cuttable material. The amount of fossils I've found is remarkable, Carboniferous tree limbs, leaf patterns, brachiopods, colony corals and single horn corals as well as many that I didn't recognized or weren't of nice quality. I am collecting a variety of them to ship back in the container as well as a couple of tons of the Frosterley Marble.
Tomorrow Dave will be back with us and I intend to muck out both tunnels clean so we can see if anybody has been collecting over the winter. Then we will help Byron wrap the specimens as they come out till our time runs out for the year. Not much of that left.
More on the life and work of the fluorite miners tomorrow.
Another beautiful day in the Dales. Actually got hot, near 80 today which is blistering up here.
After breakfast Jesse and Joan decided to visit the Beamish Open Air Museum up near Newcastle and Kerith and I drove up to Little Allercleugh to do a final bit of sawing and packing, water gunning and unwrapping. Jonina had made great headway on the tubs left from Thursday afternoon. One tub in particular had a number of excellent specimens in it. About 1:00 p.m. we broke for lunch down at the Drapery and about 2:15 p.m. I drove over to Ian and Pam Forbes house in Westgate and had them follow me up to the Rogerley mine, the back road since I assumed Alistair would be closing early since this is the big bank holiday weekend in August. Kerith was to follow later with John Cubitt, a friend and collector we know through the AAPG meetings and who lives in Wales near the border close to Chester.
We got there and were just getting inside the Rogerley mine when Kerith arrived with John and his daughter, Veronica who is planning on studying geology -- though at 16 your concepts for what constitutes a life career will undergo many changes most likely.
Byron and Jim had drilled three holes with the small drill and had set off the charges only about 20 minutes prior to our arrival and were just beginning the mucking out process in the new pocket when we got to the end of the tunnel. I had not been to the mine for two days and when I left the pocket was pinched down in the back to a tiny mud seam but the blasts had not only made more room for Byron but had enabled him to dislodge more rock and the pocket has reopened into another mud seam in the back about six inches thick.
We all broke for St. Johns Chapel, except Ian and Pam who headed off to another appointment. We got back and the Agricultural Fair which is today, Saturday, was in full swing with the bumper cars going, the spin-and-barf rides etc. all set up right below our big windows. Quite noisy till about 11 p.m. last night, even had a van (yes a van) load of Durham police to help maintain order, giving a ratio of about one cop per 20 people. No problems just lots of happy preteens and teens -- though god knows where they came from, they just sort of appeared like mushrooms after a storm.
About 5:20 Jesse and Joan, who had gotten back from a wonderful day at the museum, Kerith and I and John and Veronica broke for the Golden Lion to await Byron and Jim to find out how the day had gone. They got in late, close to 6:00 p.m. and Byron brought in a small plastic container with three stalactites, two wonderful and one quite nice. Very impressive.
About seven we broke for dinner at the Mill Race in Wolsingham and got back to St. Johns about 9:30 -- the party in town was still going strong. Sadly, this morning the rain is quite heavy, it is windy and very overcast, will still have a go at seeing the fair though.
That is about it, tomorrow we leave for London and fly home on Monday. My kit is stuffed with all the specimens I can carry. That is all, from this place way north of Lake Woebegone. Regards, C&K