Mike Bushfield, Eurekam MT, is the winner!
Arrastas is the annswer for Clearwater History Trivia #577, a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country. Watch each day for another clue.
Join in the discovery!
Tuesday: Powered by a horse or mule
Wednesday: Remote locations
Saturday: Later powered by water wheels
Monday: An unusual name
An arrastra was a primitive method used by early miners to process gold and silver ores. It was introduced to the Americas in the 1500s by the Spanish, but has been used throughout the world, often in remote locations where other methods were not possible. It was simple, yet effective.
An arrastra was designed to extract gold or silver that was locked in its host material. Lode mining required crushing to extract the gold and silver. It was usually designed using two large flat stones that were dragged around a circular pit made from the flat stones. The drag stones were attached to a central pivot which allowed them to be dragged repeatedly over the ore that was placed in the arrastra.
They were typically powered by horses or mules, though some were powered by water wheels and even steam engines in later years. The ore was placed in the arrastra, generally a few hundred pounds at a time, according to the website:https://www.goldrushnuggets.com/arrastras1.html.
They were built on location, so each was unique in size and construction, though they followed a basic design.
There is a photo of an arrastra in the Idaho Historical Society collection that was powered by a water wheel on Silver Creek near Pierce. To view the picture, click on this link: https://idahohistory.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p265501coll1/id/346/rec/37. The photo is circa 1892.
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