Thursday, February 24, 2005

English rail at Last Chance

The Pacific Slab Mine, a  hydraulic mine at Last Chance, Placer County, Cal. had a 'riffle' bed about 100 feet long, 4 to 5 feet deep, and three to four feet across.  Through that riffle bed the earth displaced by the hydraulic monitor was washed, and gold settled on the bottom.  Rail was used to settle the washed earth, that is to say the rail was placed in the bottom of the cut, each rail about 6 inches apart from the next rail, set at right angles to the flow of discharged water, thus catching the heavier gold as the water passed over the riffle.
Most of the rail used was steel, however several pieces were iron 'pear' rail, a few branded RIC 64 (the source of that rail, 54 lbs to the yard, is still a mystery to me) the rest are English or Welsh rails, unbranded, and weighing ABOUT 58 lbs per yard. 
The exact rail weight would be difficult to measure, as the action of the water and earth over the rail, over a period of 75 years (the mine was closed in the mid 1960's) has eroded the rail somewhat.
That being said, does anyone know of a railroad within a reasonable distance of Last Chance (it is 40 miles or so East, Northeast of Auburn) that used English/Welsh rail weighing 58 lbs per yard?
The foot of the rail is heavier than the 60 lb rail used on the Sacramento Valley Rail Road, however the web is shorter and the ball smaller than the SVRR rail.
The rail is unbranded, but has definite English/Welch charactistics as to profile.
Insofar as the Towle Bros. lumber railroad used whatever rail it could find in the 1870's through the 1890's, much of that rail was English/Welsh of a similiar profile, but also unbranded, it would not surprise me to find that the Pacific Slab Mine got it's rail from abandoned Towle Bros. rail beds.
Thank You.
Chris Graves, NewCastle, Cal.