Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Good morning from Weardale.

Yesterday began bright and sunny, but as the day wore on clouded over and dripped a bit. By evening it was bright and clear again. Typical weather for this time of year. This morning is sunny with scattered clouds floating by, but I'm sure this will change soon - into just what we'll have to wait to find out.

Yesterday was a sleep-in morning for the crew - something I'm sure was sorely needed after having their biological clocks so thoroughly abused. I don't know whether the fact that I go through this more often than they do means that I'm better adapted or that I just try harder to ignore what it does to me and get on with things. At any rate, I was left with the morning to fuss with photos, write e-mails, and drink as much coffee as I pleased. Byron finally roused a little before 1100 and had himself reasonably together by time for our 1130 meeting with Dave to go look at used equipment. Byron says that Jonina was stirring but I saw no evidence of it myself.

Picked up Dave and drove down to the yard near Frosterley where all the old mine equipment was stashed. What I had imagined was going to be a quick look at some rusted stuff that we might be able to put back into working order turned into a 2.5 hour combination of Christmas morning and an Easter-egg hunt. The stuff of interest was scattered about in several locations about the yard but after much scurrying about Dave and Byron had assembled a nice pile of potential useful bits, including two almost new Sig drills with jack legs, a set of new drill steels, a small ventilation fan, and the principal thing of interest - an old small, rusted, battery-powered locomotive (known locally as a "loco"), which is used for pulling full ore tubs out of the mine. This last item will be of crucial importance to us if we continue to push forward on the main tunnel much further as the strata we following dips gently in the direction we are headed. I even got into the act and found two complete new sets of cables for our Eimco 12B loader. None of this stuff will be needed immediately, but as small-scale mining is virtually extinct in these parts, this is likely our last chance to get anything useful at anything short of extortion-rate prices. The bright side of it all is that now, assuming Dave can get the loco working over next winter, we are set equipment-wise for however long we wish to continue this folly. As an added bonus, the fellow who has all the equipment has given us permission to go up to the old mine site where it came from and look around for a charger for the loco, which may still exist.

After driving Dave back up the dale Byron and I went by the mine for a quick visit. Everything was pretty much as we left it last fall - no collapses to dig out, no major rock falls onto the landing. Seems to be a bit more water in the mine this year than last, but I understand it was a rather wet winter here. At close-down last fall we stashed a number of tubs full of specimens that we didn't have time to process in the mine. We collected a batch of these and hauled them down to give Jonina something to start on. Today's photo is of Byron inspecting the face of the main tunnel, where we left off last August.

Stopped in at the Grey Bull in Stanhope on the way back up the dale. Saw Isabel's son Noel who runs the place, and a few others from last year, and got all the gory details of last winter's snow storm from Donna, who was behind the bar. Had dinner at the cottage and everyone turned in fairly early.

This morning we are meeting Dave at 1000 to got up to Groverake and rummage around for the fabled charger. Afterwards, we need to check in at Watson's garage on the status of the company cars, and then Byron and I hope to get the water lines pulled back into the mine. Sounds ambitious, huh?

Until tomorrow….


Jesse, Byron and Jonina

Byron at the face of the main tunnel

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