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Farmington News
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From "Doc Alders, Farmington's Lone Eagle" A Reminiscence. The Alders brothers and Lloyd Mattesich became partners in hard rock mine out of Columbia beyond Italian Bar on the Stanislaus River. They got about forty tons out of it. The boys' great uncle, John Heward, looked after the Alders Service Station while they were seeking riches in the Sierra Mother Lode country. A few people got rich during the automobile gold rush. For most, it was a way to stay off the government dole that was such a prevalent part of the New Deal.

It took a mighty effort to get the mine operating again. The mineshaft went straight down under the hoist frame erected above it. Descending into the mine was performed by the hoist engine and half-inch steel cable strung over the pulley at the top of the frame. The hoist lowered the bucket down the shaft.

They went down a hundred to a hundred and thirty feet. This was hard rock mining. The task was to drill holes into the rock and place dynamite in them to blast the rock loose so it could be brought up by bucket and hoist.

They originally went down with a single jack, in other words a sledgehammer with a short handle. They would use it to pound a steel drill. A double jack has two men. One would hit and then the other would hit. They figured that was too much work, so they came home and had the air compressor made.

Doc's brother, Pete, came up with an ingenious solution. Pete made an air compressor to run a jackhammer. He made the compressor using two automobile engines. Reversed one valve on each cylinder then use that to pump the air. Ran it with a Buick engine and the compressor was made out of an old four cylinder Nash.

With one hundred fifty pounds of pressure, they went down to the bottom of the mineshaft and jack hammered to fill the bucket up with ore. They poked down five holes about three or four feet deep, a hole in each corner then one in the center. They set that one off first to break the ground then the other holes would come into that. They used dynamite. They set it off before they came up. They did not lose any time climbing up. They would put about twenty-four to about twenty-six sticks in each round. The ground was stable. Occasionally they would have to prop up a corner or something. However, ordinarily, they did not have to timber.

They took turns going down to drill and blast. There really was not too much room for more than one. The man down in the hole wore a miner's hat with a lamp. They used calcium carbide in the lamp then they had a reservoir and they could regulate the water dripping into the carbide and it would make a flame.


Happy Birthday to Kirby Allen Bailey, Sunday, May 6th.


Farmington Elementary School will be hosting an Open House and Book Fair on Thursday, May 3rd at 6:30 pm.


Please contact me if you have items for the Farmington News column. E-Mail me at or phone 896-6697.