Hey there Campers:
It is still nice with cool breezes. Yesterday when we went to the flea market the city had an expo going on for families. It was called Cuts for Kids. It cut the kids hair and gave them school supplies. This was an important event since school started today.
We started our day off with a final visit to Old Town. We stopped at Camper World to pick up a new connector for the Hilton. We got a chance to see the 2016 motorhomes. I always like to see the new stuff so I can upgrade ours if necessary. The salesman was really nice and was trying to convince us to sell and move up. He did not seem to understand the words R-E-T-I-R-ED and debt F-R-E-E. No problem we really have a grip on the concept.
We returned to get the Hilton on proceed to the next locations.
When we were at the Indian Cultural Center on Saturday, they told us about a pueblo we could visit near Gallup. As we were tootaling done the freeway I saw a sign for a visitors center in Grants, NM. Thought we should stop since I wasn't quite sure where the pueblo was. Well we missed the exit 20 miles back. It was already 2:00PM and the site closed at 5:00 P.M. Boy we are glad we missed the exit. The Visitor's Center had a underground mine museum.
Buckle your history seat belts gang. We're going to take a ride in the underground mine.
We started the tour with a 12 minute movie on what mining is about and how it is drilled.
One of the former Superintendent's of the mine, Jack Farley, was there to take us on the tour. This guy was a wealth of knowledge. This was better than any history class because he lived it and could tell us what it was like to be a miner. He was a miner for 28 years. He retired when they shut the mine down.
We took an elevator that took us 80 feet down. Mining in the city of Grant was from 1956 to 1986. They mined Uranium. Uranium is used to make atomic bombs. Grant was the city that produced the most uranium in the US. We were shown how the uranium was drilled, the cars they were put in. Station one was where the workers and materials entered and leave the mine. They were lowered or raised through the shaft in a cage.
Ore was hauled to the station in trains. Ore cars are loaded by being driven under ore passes called chutes. The flow of ore into the cars from the chutes was controlled by chute doors operated by compressed air. An ore pass connects the level where the ore is being mined to the track level. Water flow was kept away from the track by the use of ditches which ran alongside the track. Noticed the netting above. It kept things from clunking you on the head which could kill you.
Raises were vertical tunnels between levels. Uranium mines must be well ventilated. In the mine, air is moved through ventilation shafts, ventilations raises and ventilation tubing by the use of electric fans. Vent raises allow air to move from one level to another. Vent shafts take air in or out of the mine from the surface. Every opening into the mine from the surface is used as an air intake or exhaust. Fresh air is critical. Areas where the ventilation was inadequate was marked "keep out".
A stope is where the ore is mined. An open stope is the area of a mine where the ore has been mined out. The end results is a large ball room called and open stope. Workers were not allowed in an open stope because the walls are very fragile and could cave in at anytime.
Blasting the rock requires that holes first be drilled into it. This air operated drill was used to drill holes in the rock. The drill was heavy and is was lifted, pushed forward and taken out. Blasting the rock by using the drill holes allowed for driving drifts in the desired direction and kept waste and ore apart. Don't forget the whole idea was to get the ore. That where the money was. The machine vibrated a lot. Jack told us that due to his many times operating the jack he can't lift his hand up high. Blasting was done by placing dynamite in the drilled holes. The blasting caps were set off with electricity. Each hole was set off a different time to break the rock into a desired size and to move the broken material in a certain direction. They blasted at lunch and quitting time so the men would be out of the way.
Can you imagine logs and lumber was used to hold up the mine. Boy talk about having faith in an item.
Every mine had a fix it shop underground. To avoid down time, they repaired everything down there. The person who maintained and repaid the machine was called a machine doctor. OK. Lo could have had that job. That would have been right done is alley.
Every mine also had a lunch room. There was no time for anyone to go up and run to Taco Bell. Time was money. All communication with the office was handled from the lunch room.
That hard hat, light and self rescue oxygen is very important to a miner. Jack told us that even with the light, it is pick black in the mine. Miners would sometime disoriented and had to sit and wait until someone came to get him out. He said you could not feel your way out of the tunnel because the rock will all feel the same.
If a person got sick he would be strapped to the board or carrying cage and be taken out vertically. No other way to get you out.
The mine had a systems. Every person had a name tag that went on the board. If you did not check out at the end of your shift they immediately went to find you.
Check this door out. It closed by itself by the iron weight. (See it on the right side of the door). This is needed to make sure the lunchroom stays clean.
Jack Farley had a lot to be proud of. The trophies in the cabinet were his for safety awards. He said he keeps them there to show how safe a mine can be. He told us a story about how he kept the mines he supervised safe for 2 years. He told his miners if they were safe for 3 months he would take them and their wives out for a nice dinner and an open bar. All you had to say was open bar. Jack held to his word and took them out. The headquarters called Jack and asked him about the $5,000 dinner bill. Jack told them what he promised. Headquarters started to bulk about the bill. He told them if a miner got hurt it would cost them more than the bill. They saw it his way. He continued that practice until the mine shut down.
Most of the uranium was bought by the Atomic Energy Commission of the US. When they no longer needed it the price dropped drastically and mines all over America closed. US also started buying cheaper uranium from Canada & Australia. They are currently starting to drill in Colorado.
The down side of mining is the illnesses and injury. Some time mines were trying to produce more minerals and forgot about the safety of the miners. There were at least 5-15 people kill in mining accidents a year. Many people died of lung cancer due to radiation. Jack said he was one of the lucky ones. He has a high level of radiation in his body by is 83 years old with no problems but old age.
After we left the museum, we went back to find the pueblo. We stopped at the Sky City Casino and Hotel. You know us we are always looking for a deal. Well, for $69 we got the tickets to the pueblo, breakfast at the hotel, lunch at the pueblo and a permit to take pictures and a stay at the RV park with full hook ups. Oh yeah. If you do not buy a camera permit one is not allowed to take pictures of the pueblo. Hmmm. Have they forgot about cell phone cameras??
We found out today is the Feast of Lorenzo. Yep Brother B has a feast in his honor. It really seem more like a block party. We did get their late for the tribal dances.
We came back to the hotel for our meal. Again we needed a players card to get a discount on the meal. Again I am not going to gamble my funds. I got that card and they put $5 of their money on it. We played a slot game. Nope this time we did not win. But we only played on their money so we are good.
It is raining really hard right now. I am glad we are in for the night.
Question of the Day:
What temperature are mines normally?
What creates the temperature in the mines?
Well, until next time Campers
Lo & Bren