MinesVictoria Mine

The Pyramids of Victoria

Leaving both the rock house and shaft house behind, we went off in search of the next piece of the puzzle: the hoist house. As a general rule (though all rules have exceptions), hoist buildings can easily be found by simply walking in a straight line from the rock house, heading in the opposite direction of the shaft house. As we rounded the rock house remains to do just that we found ourselves confronted by something seemingly alien sitting slightly ahead of us in the adjacent woods. They looked like strange monuments from some lost civilization, left here next to Victoria’s number two shaft in tribute to some mystical being….

It was one of the weirdest things we have ever seen, at least the most surreal. Sitting there in front of us were a pair of large concrete “pyramids”, standing about ten feet high. They stood in a staggered formation, facing the back side of the rock house.

Turns out the “pyramids” are actually not pyramids, but are more accurately described as large wedges with sloped tops. Scattered across those sloped tops were various iron rods, indicating that some piece of machinery was attached to those wedge’s tops.

A closer look reveals those iron bolts are joined by the remains of some type of wood frame that looks to have sat atop the wedges. All these clues were beginning to have us doubt our first theory – these most likely were not ancient monuments to some supreme being. Most likely they were just foundations to cable diverters, used to change direction of the hoisting cables as they exited the rock house. Turns out this was actually the case, as documented by the following photo.

It’s a little hard to see in this rather dark and grainy photo, but our mystery pyramids were once home to large sheaves mounted to their tops. Normally hoisting cables would make their way up out of the shaft and to the top of the rock house. There a pair of large sheaves would redirect the rope back downwards, out towards the nearby hoist house and the winding drum. In this case that cable would be intercepted on its way to the hoist building, by the sheaves seen above. Those pulleys would redirect the cables once again, but this time out to the east. This meant the hoist building would not be located where we would expect it, but was instead off to the east.

The odd angle and shape of these foundations were essential to directing the hoist cables in the right direction. The cable would have came down from the upper left, and then turned by the sheave off to the right.

Thanks to the pyramids we now knew which direction to head in search of the hoist. So we left they pyramids behind and began to head off to our prize, but were stopped short by yet another ruin standing nearby….

To Be Continued…

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  1. In the old piture you can see a tall shadow being cast,maybe from a cable stand?Do those cable diverters eat up horsepower or doesn’t it make much difference?
    Cool pyramids.

  2. ROC,
    I think you’re right about the cable stand shadow.

    And I’d guess that the diverters would eat up a significant amount of power. That would explain why most mines had everything in a straight line if possible.

  3. The power loss wasn’t all that much. The Whiting system at the Red Jacket shaft took allot of bends. The main reason to keep the cables as straight as possible is cable life. There are best practices for minimum sheave diameters to minimize cable wear based on the diameter of the cable. Even at that, the average life expectancy for hoisting cable at a Mich. copper mine working at capacity was 1 year. During that time ends would resocketed and hot lubed every 3 to 4 weeks and the cable switched end for end at about 6 months of service. Switching ends required special equipment and skilled workers, you couldn’t run 5,000 – 10,000 feet of heavy cable on the ground and just grab the other end. Heavy powered take up spools were used in coordination with the hoist. That would have been interesting to watch.

  4. Deflection Sheaves and sheave stands can also help the hoisting system by providing more friction. If you have a hoist that’s a long ways away from the shaft, the weight of the hoist rope between the drum and the head sheaves can cause conveyance roll back, which means when you stop the hoist the conveyance keeps climbing because the weight of the rope is enough to keep pulling it up. The way to counteract this is by increasing the friction on your hoist rope, or adding weight to your conveyance (which in turns limits your hoisting capacity)

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