Monday, January 30, 2012

The Wrath of the Killdozer

Marvin Heemeyer of Granby, Colorado was a profoundly frustrated muffler repair man. In the late 1990s–after years of protests, petitions, and town meetings–it became obvious to the 52-year-old that he was entwined in a gross miscarriage of justice. His business was ruined by some shady zoning changes, and Heemeyer contended that mayor and city council were corrupt. Even as he was forced to give up his legal fight and sell his land, he hatched one last plan to secretly retool his muffler shop to serve a single malevolent purpose: to construct a machine that would allow him to exact his revenge upon those who had wronged him.

Bound By Tradition

On 20 October 1998, the Zhiqiang Shoe Factory in Harbin, China sent out a press release stating that they were officially halting production of a curious variety of footwear known as “lotus shoes.” This announcement may appear pedestrian to Western eyes, but in a way it was a symbolic epitaph for a bizarre custom which had been in practice in parts of China for about a thousand years: a process known as foot binding.

Rick & Deb Visit Voodoo Doughnuts In Portland, Oregon

Bonne Terre Mine: What You See!

Yosemite HD

Northern lights from Fairbanks, Alaska

Deadhorse or Prudhoe Bay, Alaska it is a balmy -51 below zero ambient temperature with a chill factor (feels like) -71 degrees below zero.

All photos taken by Ronn Murray! Click on his name to check out his photography site! More here that will BLOW YOUR MIND from Mr. Murray!


Flying People in New York City

Bonne Terre Mine: A Trip Through The Mine In 1949

By W. L. Bouchard (1949)

A week ago last Tuesday I spent the day in the mines and surface
operations of St. Joseph Lead Company at Bonne Terre. To me, I was back
in the old camp and surveying happy hunting grounds of years ago, and in
the rambling off of this story, I shall try to make it interesting even
tho it may appear somewhat personal.

It is always a good idea to begin writing where you start from, so that
is about what I intend to do. To begin with, the weather was pretty
chilly on top that morning, around 25 degrees, but the temperature
underground is always about 60 degrees until you get caught in a draft
in drifts, then it gets a little colder. Arriving at the Bonne Terre
Safety Office of St. Joseph Lead Co., a little before eight a.m., I was
met by W. C. Bochert, Safety Engineer and Charlie Reed, Mine Captain
over the Bonne Terre mines. The first thing I did was to get into
clothes suitable for the trip and don a Hard Boiled Safety Hat with an
electric light plant hooked on my back, which I thought weighed around a
half ton when I got back to the surface.

Immediately following the preliminary arrangements, we were lowered into
the mine at No. 1 Shaft located directly behind the main office.
Hoisting Engineer Harry Head, who has been with the company 23 years,
did a good job and stopped the cage exactly on the spot about 400 feet
beneath the surface. Landing safely, I inspected the rotary dump where
the ore cars are dumped, 2 1/2 ton cars, 3 at a time. The dumping
operation is done by the motormen of the ore trains who head their
trains in and leave the motor and operate the dumping mechanism which
pulls the motor along at the rear end of the train. They have an
automatic electrical device which dumps the cars and also operate an air
hammer which cleans the bottom of the cars of muck gathered in the
loading of the ore. When the train is dumped the cars are all clean and
ready to return for another train load. Over two thousand tons of lead
ore is hoisted daily at No. 1 shaft, which is the only shaft at Bonne
Terre where ore is hoisted. The men working underground are also lowered
at that shaft now. Until recent years the men walked down steps at the
Camp Shaft or were lowered by cage at No. 3 shaft to enter the mines.
No. 3 shaft is one of the old shafts and is located at the base of the
huge chat dump just north of No. 1 shaft.

After looking over the ore dump and the underground shops which are now
being expanded, I took a trip for some distance thru a drift to where a
drag line scraper was in operation. Two men were operating it and were
cleaning the rock from the drift to make a fill for railroad tracks to
be installed later to take the ore from a stope to be developed. The men
driving the drift do their own drilling, firing and cleaning and are
usually thru in about five hours when they go off duty. You would have
to see the drag in operation to understand how the work is done. In old
days drifts were cleaned by hand shovelers which was not an easy job.

After inspecting that operation I went down to an ore chute which
contained lead ore from an upper level being dumped for loading from
another level below, thence to the surface. At the chute was an operator
who lowers the gate by automatic air controls and when two cars are
loaded Old Babe, a faithful mule, pulls the cars to the main line. He is
a mighty engine himself, starting five tons of ore besides the weight of
the cars. Apparently he was not so pleased by having visitors around,
especially as he might describe them as green horns. His main idea
seemed to be work and not visiting. Anyway, Babe went about his business
and when there were no cars to pull he stood by on a siding to await
another assignment. I saw there some new installations as to safety
lights along the tracks and went back to the shaft. However, before
going back I looked up from the bottom to the top and saw the entrance
of Shaft No. 1095 on the lot just off the highway to the left going into
Bonne Terre. I asked Charlie Reed why it was you could see the opening
of a shaft from the bottom and could not see the bottom from the top. He
said it was the same distance but there was no light at the bottom. It
had always been my idea that you could see thru both ends of a hole.

While going thru that portion of the mines, I saw some ground, that's
what it is called, more than 200 feet high where men work on trapeze
drilling for the precious metal. In old days such operations were
unheard of, it was then a question to get out the ore on a certain level
under a roof of 18 or 20 feet. Not so today. The mines are catecombed
chamber after chamber, all supported by huge pillars, most of which
contain very rich ore, which no doubt will be mined some day when a safe
way is discovered to perform that work. I was very much impressed with
the clean up work that is being done at the Bonne Terre Mine in the way
of keeping the tracks clean and providing a cleaner situation throughout
the mines. I had been told that Bonne Terre was a wet mine and lots of
mud to wade thru. Naturally, it being the oldest mine in the district,
the condition had existed for a long time before modern methods were in
use. Before I forget it, you will find some pictures of the mines which
will be described as I go along.

Before leaving the level where I landed, I inspected a loading machine
operated by compressed air. The two men operating the machine were
cleaning a drift which will lead to another stope. There is a lot of
development work going on in the mines there to reach new bodies of ore
and all I saw appeared to be a pretty fair grade, which led me to
believe that there is a lot of lead in the mines there yet after near 75
years of operations. I will go into more detail about that a little
further along but I must hasten now for the trip in Charlie Reed's
Scooter over to Mines 7 and 9, known to old timers as Moontown, which
was a part of the Desloge mining property many years ago.

I got on the Scooter for a ride of about a mile and a half with Mr.
Bochert on the same seat. We passed No. 6 shaft located in the vicinity
of Purity Dairy and then straight thru to No. 7. Got off the car and
walked up a bluff, which was not sanded, and by the time the top was
reached I was low on wind. Then I walked thru a drift of the old
workings and stopped to investigate the stope where years ago Albert
Link, later foreman and mine captain, was jammed against the roof and
received a broken back. Charlie told me we would go back another way and
would not have to go back down the bluff. When I arrived at the end it
was jammed with rock.

Charlie climbed over the pile and thru a small hole and went down to
where Bill Neubrand and his partner were loading ore and trying to break
in a new mule. The mule happened to be a new employee and evidently was
not satisfied with his job, according to Neubrand. They had to twist his
nose in order to get a bridle on and then he would kick his harness off.
The last I heard of the argument, the mule won and will no doubt be
relieved of his mining duties before long. Mules are mules, you know.

While at No. 7 Mine I inspected the mine pumps that furnish the water
for Bonne Terre Lake. The pumps were located at such a degree downward
that a top inspection sufficed. I saw more ladders on the trip than I
thought were in existence. Charlie wanted me to climb some of them and
get the same experience that Mr. Bochert and Dr. Sutton had had but my
wind had about been exhausted by climbing the bluff and having to
descend it, which was worse than the ascend.

I stopped at the mule barn for No. 7 Mine and they all seemed to be well
pleased. The journey was then started back thru the same drift back to
No. 1 shaft and a visit to the mule barn there. There are 17 mules in
the Bonne Terre Mines and many of them have served many years in
darkness. They are well fed and I never heard a squak from any of them.
Their wages are all they can eat, good care and a life of humble
service. For instance, I saw Old Bud, now about thirty years old and who
has been in the mines about 22 years. He was coal black when taken into
the mines, now he has a lot of gray hair but fat as his hide will hold
him and gentle as a lamb. He seemed to be Charlie Reed's pet. The barn
was well lighted and the family of about seven looked the picture of
health. While on the mule subject, they are no longer taken into the
mines by cage, but walked down an incline at the rear of the Bonne Terre
Farming & Cattle Co. offices in the center of town. During the
conversation between Charlie Reed and W. C. Bochert, I found that there
had been only one fatal accident in the mines during Mr. Reed's eleven
years as captain there. He holds an excellent record for safety during
his long years in the service of the company.

While standing around talking about open country and viewing the back
above me, wondering about tons of rock that might fall but none fell.
And by the way, while I was in the mule barn, I saw some big pillars of
rock which contain rich lead ore and half of them could be cut away and
not destroy the necessary pillar to support the roof. In the course of
that conversation, I asked Charlie Reed about Pen Diggings, the mine
that furnished the rich lead which built the M.R. & B.T. Railroad at a
cost of about 3 1/2 million dollars, from Riverside to Doe Run. He told
me that the mine there was yet valuable and that since he had been in
charge at Bonne Terre it was worked for three and a half years at one
time. Folks traveling the highway north will notice on the right a
pond--that is Pen Diggings, the shaft is very close to the pond.

As I was going out of the mines I met Pete McComb, son of the late
George McComb who lived on a farm about two miles northwest of the John
Murphy Farm north of Big River. He is now in the mechanical department
underground and will be retired before long. I talked to Charlie Reed
about operations there before his time, about No. 4 out in the field
near the golf course, No. 5 in Deslogetown and No. 2 north of town from
where the water is pumped that supplies Bonne Terre with its water. I
well remember when Sam Calvert was hoisting engineer at No. 5 shaft and
I saw at one time five victims of mine accidents. Those were the days
before the company ever thought of safety. Today the company and
employees alike are looking to safety which means so much, not only to
those underground, but to all employees wherever they work.

The Bonne Terre mines have been in operation for about 75 years. The
property was developed from a shallow diggings to a deep mine operation.
At one time Desloge Consolidated Lead Company owned considerable
property in and about Bonne Terre and operated mines and a mill for
several years. After the Desloge mill was destroyed by fire, St. Joseph
Lead Company bought the property and the Desloge interests became heavy
stockholders in St. Joe thru the transaction. Upon leaving Bonne Terre
the Desloge company developed the present property at Desloge and
operated there for many years before selling out to St. Joe.

About 190 men are now employed in the mines at Bonne Terre. The lead
deposit runs from near the surface to a depth of over 400 feet. In fact,
some very rich ore is within 26 feet of the surface and very close to
the area in and around the main office. Sometime ago a diamond drill
hole was involved in a blasting operation and resulted in a small blow
out in the middle of the street just east of the Safety Department
Office Building.

It was about half past eleven when I came back to surface and looked
over the change room and found it spic and span. There I met Lewis
McCombs, a brother of the one mentioned previously in this story. I also
met Gordie Aubuchon, Yard Foreman, all dressed up in clean overalls and
jumper and some kind of new shoes that he said enabled him to get around
on his job a little faster. Well, by that time I had the best appetite
worked up that I had since the wood burnt, and I enjoyed a fine luncheon
with Mr. and Mrs. Bochert and N. A. Stockett at the St. Joe Club,
prepared by Mr. and Mrs. Mike Christoff, who are in charge. Somebody
told me later in the day that Mrs. Christoff prepares the fine meals and
Mike claims credit for preparing them. Anyway it hit the spot.

Immediately following lunch I was escorted thru the surface operations
by N. A. Stockett, General Mill Superintendent for the company, Myron
Dunlap, Bonne Terre Mill Captain, and Mr. Bochert. I started in again at
No. 1 shaft where the giant gyratory crusher receives the first ore
hoisted. At the time no rock was going thru on account of the mill being
blocked out. That crusher takes the coarse ore and crushes it to a
certain size, after which it is conveyed to the secondary crushers, of
the same type but smaller, and the size is reduced before it goes into
the fine rolls, thence to the rod mills before reaching screens and
tables. The tables resemble a lop-sided dining room table and there is
where the lead concentrates leave the impurities and ready for the
smelter. I ran across an old neighbor of boyhood days in Bonne Terre,
Howard Sherman, mill shift foreman on duty at the time. The Sherman
family and my family were next door neighbors in Bonne Terre back in
about 1903. Bill and Ollie were railroad engineers for many years on the
M.R. & B.T. Ry., which was owned by St. Joe Lead Co.

The Bonne Terre Mill is the oldest concentrating mill in the district
and has a capacity of about 2800 tons of ore each 24 hours. It was
originally built of wood but in late years has been made fire proof. The
old timbers have been replaced by concrete along with the floors. The
mill is now operating 24 hours a day and the product consists of mine
ore and chat from the dumps north of town, the lead content of the chat
is about nine-tenths of one per cent and the average lead content of the
mine ore is about two and a half per cent.

The oil flotation process of getting all there is left of lead from the
rock and chat, is most interesting and makes it possible for the mines
to operate on low grade ore. I cannot begin to describe it intelligently
except to say that about 75 per cent of the lead recovery is table lead
and 25 per cent flotation lead. After the float lead leaves the mill it
goes into a great pool where it is picked up by vacuum on a giant drum
and scraped off and put thru a dryer in the form of lead concentrate
containing about 70 per cent metallic lead. When it leaves the dryer, it
is in the form of small balls which would remind you of mud balls, and
from there it is carried by a conveyor belt to a railroad car and loaded
by a car loader similar to the car loaders used in loading wheat. From
there it goes to the Smelter at Herculaneum or Alton, Ill.

The disposition of the tailings from the mill was a problem for many
years. At first it was hauled away in railroad cars, later by conveyor
belts, to the dumps, but now it is pumped out in the form of slime to
settling ponds.

From there I went thru the modern laboratories where samples are assayed
each morning from all mills and the reports ready that afternoon for the
General Mill Superintendent. L. C. Echart is in charge and has under him
14 chemists. Aside from that, an experimental lab is now underway where
it is expected that more recovery of lead will be made possible,
especially from some of the Mine La Motte findings.

The next visit was to the machine shop and I was very much interested
there because I have worked in them along with other jobs in and about
the mines of the district. I would not want you to mention this, but I
drew a paycheck from three different companies within a month's time
many years ago. It was the idea of the bosses under whom I worked, not
mine. However, I always managed to have a job.

The first thing that struck my eye when I entered the machine shop was
the painting job that was going on, painting the machines different
colors, the stairways, the walls, etc. The shop will be a much more
pleasant place to work in when the work is completed. C. J. Wann, shop
foreman, was very nice in showing me around the various machines. I ran
across two old time friends who have good jobs in the shop, Clarence
Smith of Bonne Terre and Ben LaPlant of St. Francois. Clarence lived on
a farm north of Bonne Terre for many years as did the writer. Ben
formerly worked with me in the National Lead Co. machine shop about 38
years ago. The shop is equipped with several turning lathes, milling
machines, shapers, planers, boring mill, drill presses, metal saw, a
giant crane, etc. The water treating plant is also located in the shop.

My next stop was at the pattern shop where all patterns for castings are
made. Ed Dalke is the chief pattern maker and has several assistants
under his supervision. For many years Luther Poston was in charge but he
was retired a year ago. That stop wound up the day for me and I felt
that I had been around quite a bit.

Next week I will probably tell you something of the early days in the
mining business and of Bonne Terre in general.

Published by THE LEAD BELT NEWS, Flat River, St. Francois Co. MO, Fri.
March 4, 1949.

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ure, we’ve wowed you with medical oddities, but why should abnormal bodies get all the attention? The truth about the normal human body can be stranger than fiction. To prove it, here are 11 weird facts about the body you thought you knew.