THE ROSE OF SHARON
An Original 1891 Rutherglen Gold Mine
Hopetoun Road, Rutherglen.
Phone 0260 328 428
The Rose of Sharon has a living historical display of the Life on the Gold Fields, and has created on site an Outdoor Gold Mining Museum.
Miners Living Quarters
At the time of the Rutherglen diggings during the 1880's and 1890's conditions were very tough, and the miners made the best of what they had. Many miners lived next to or very close to their mines.
Above left is a typical tent as used by the miners, complete with the most basic cooking utensils, pots and pans used to cook over open fires. On the right is a slab hut, typical of miners dwellings all over the north east gold fields.
The Gold Mines
The Gold Mines varied enormously in size and shape. There were single peson mines, or sole traders, who probably owned a pick and shovel and not much more. These mines were obviously smaller and of course not as deep.
There were also Partnerships and Company Mines necessitated by the need for more capital. These mines were obviously much larger and used heavy equipment and more labour.
Above left you can see the typical single miner or even small partnership style mine. There is a crude lifting device made out of three poles, tied together and a block and tackle is used to lower and raise a bucket into the mine shaft to recover the load of rocks and quartz. This equipment is known as a poppet head.
Above right you can see the poppet head for the Lilliput Gold Mine. The principal is just the same. There is a rope attached to a larger bucket which is lowered into the mine shaft ( 2 ) by means of the large wheel at the top of the structure ( 1 ).
When full the bucket was pulled up to the work platform ( 3 ), where the load of rock and quartz was tipped onto the shute ( 4 ) and fell into the holding container ( 5 ). A horse drawn wagon would then be positioned underneath the container ( 6 ) and the load would be dumped into the wagon, which would then be taken to the crushing plant.
The smaller mine above is here on the property, the Lillyput mine is less than 1 Km away.
Having established a mine, the miners had the problem of carting the heavy rocks and quartz from the work face to the surface or to near the entrance of the mine. On the smaller mines you can see they used a "bucket" on a rope, which was often pulled up by horse.
Above left you can see a rail cart trolley used by miners in the larger mines to push the load from the workface to the poppet for lifting out in deep mines, or back to the entrance on horizontal mines. On the right is miners trolley which is simply a four wheeled barrow.
The point of the mining was to separate the gold from the rocks and quartz. The main method was to smash the rocks. This was done by a machine which works like a sledge hammer. It is known as a crusher.
Above is a simple crushing machine. The general term was a "battery."
Above left you can see the wheel which was driven by a belt ( 3 ), which turned the "S" shaped lifting devices, ( 1 & 2 ).
In the centre photo you can see the wheel was turned by a belt ( 1 ) which in turn was attached to a steam or petrol driven motor ( 2 ).
The photo on the right shows how the S shaped lifting devices ( 1 ) hook under the plug like attachment on the pole ( 2 ), and lift the whole pole ( 3 ), until the lifting devices slip out and the pole falls, and the large and heavy end of the pole ( 4 ) drops down onto the rocks.
It works just like hitting a rock with a heavy hammer. The rocks and quartz are smashed into much smaller sizes, and can be crushed back to a substance like sand or powder.
The final step was to separate the gold from the crushed rocks and quartz. The most common method was the sluice box, above left, where the crushed rocks are placed in the long metal box ( 2 ) and water from a creek or dam is run in via a "pipe" ( 1 ). The water and the dirt is mixed and falls onto the slatted box ( 3 ) where the heavier gold is caught between the slats and the mud and slush is washed away.
A similar system is used in the Puddling Machine above right. The crushed rocks are placed in this round pond, and a horse is attached to one end of the post, the other end of the post has a heavy adgitator attached which stirs up the mud and slush as the horse walks round in circles. In this way the heavier gold falls to the bottom as the mud and slush is removed.
Come and see the Gold Mining Display. It is permanently set up at the Rose of Sharon.
If you are in Rutherglen head towards the large Wine Bottle. This is the town's water supply and is seen from nearly anywhere in the district. The Rose of Sharon is in Hopetoun Road, which runs past the Water Bottle and through the roundabout about 300 metres north of the Wine Bottle.
The Museum is excellent value for School Excursions.
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