Chris Tucker Minerals and Gemstones
Specializing in minerals and gemstones from Montana

Underground Art

The very act of driving mine workings is an art.  Skillfully driving workings through solid ground with explosives and basic tools is an art form.  The men who spent their time toiling away in the darkness often only had simple flame light sources.  Though they were usually overworked and underpaid, a few used their flame light sources as both a tool and an instrument of creation.  The soot from candles, carbide lamps, and other sources served as their medium.  With the soot from their flame, these men could write messages to each other, leave instructions for the next shift, and simply pass the time.

Warnings and later graffiti on the wooden door to an underground powder magazine.  The magazine dates from the 1920's.

Often when new workings were driven, those miners would sign their work.  Later visitors would often leave similar markings and it is often difficult to tell the two apart.

Signatures of a few miners and later (modern) signatures of visitors in white rock dust. 

Markings left by miners dated both 1918 and 1923.

Near the collar of a shaft on the 300 level of the Gold Hill mine, one of the miners spent a fair amount of time carving his initials into the wall rock.  Instead of soot, the black material here is heavy grease.  Possibly, this individual was the hoist engineer.

Miners were often paid by production.  Here each dot represents a car that had been filled.

Shift bosses would leave instructions for their crew with the soot from their lamps.  Here a speed limit has been posted for trammers using compressed air powered locomotives.  

Another speed limit sign, this one is also marked W. Utah 9-7-17 and represents the Western Utah Copper Company which operated the Gold Hill mine.

Also in the Gold Hill mine, this sign was left by one of the miners who apparently was not fond of the speed limits.

A portion of a ten by twenty foot section of the rib in the Gold Hill mine that has the signatures of hundreds of people.  The darker black markings date from the 1930's-40's and are from visitors to the mine.  The others date from the turn of the century through the teens.

This individual not only left their name but also left a thought.

Although faint, each chute bears a number.

Note the number on the chute on the right, the directional markers on the center post, and the directional marker on the girt.





All text, images, and design © 2005-2012 Chris Tucker All rights reserved.