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March 16, 1998
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August 13, 1997
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Water Problems for Mining in Charlestown Township
If you have read our report on Irene Ewald's presentation on mining at the Charlestown Historical Society meeting, you know that water problems had a lot to do with the demise of mining in the Township. The point was eventually reached where the draining of water from the mines lowered the water table to the point that the wells of surrounding residents were to run dry.
There are other indications of water problems in the materials reviewed for this article. When the NY & Boston Silver Lead Company purchased the closed mines in 1865, they had to rehabilitate the equipment and facilities associated with the mines, but one of their biggest problems was pumping out the water that had filled the mines since they were closed in 1857.
In their annual report, the company reported
There was so much water in the mine that the engine for pumping it out was not powerful enough, so the bigger engine was borrowed from the Charlestown Mine. In order to make certain that this engine would not run into the same difficulty, an entrance was driven to the mine at the lowest possible point, entering the shaft 40 feet below ground surface. The engine finally began its pumping and the mine was drained to the 60 foot level.
After the engine began its draining, we discovered the start of a bad break in the old Turf Dam, east of the shaft, which had been built formerly to keep back the water from the eastern portion. The amount of water thus discharged upon us was very serious and threatened eventually to flood the mine. It was accordingly determined to put in a permanent brick and cement dam at once and this was accomplished within a few days at a cost of about $325. The water was immediately reduced about one-half and the engine relieved to that extent
Because of the great reduction in the amount of water in the mine, the Wheatley engine (as it was still called) at once carried the water in fork (i.e. "drained") to the 180-foot level and, with the aid of the Charlestown Engine, the water drained out down to the 240-foot level, the bottom of the mine.
Finally, quoting from our report on Irene Ewald's presentation, we note that
The mines with several levels of tunnels are the most interesting, but for the most part they have either been filled in by man (i.e. concrete in the tunnels under Charlestown Hunt) or by nature (water following Hurricane Agnes in most of the other tunnel mines). We learned that many of the mines were ultimately closed not because they were no longer productive, but because the process of pumping water from the mines to keep them usable caused the wells of many mine neighbors to dry up.
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