Miners used many different methods and equipment to wrest the gold out of the rivers and ground of British Columbia.
The basic tool of the solitary miner was the gold pan, supplemented at times by a rocker. Once miners started to band together, they would build other equipment such as sluice boxes, and flumes. Tunnels and shafts often had to be constructed to get at the gold deep in the ground. However, the basic principle of separating the "gold" from the "dirt" relied on the fact that the gold was heavier than anything else.
Prospectors would use gold panning to both find the gold in creeks and streams, as well as to recover it.
|Two Men with Gold Pans in River,
Cariboo, Detail of A-06395
Cradles or Rockers
|Bill Phinney With Hand Rocker
at the Caledonia Claim
Dirt and gravel and water would be placed onto a box on top of the cradle that had holes in it. Underneath the box on top was a sloping and rounded surface covered in canvas called the "slide or apron". As the cradle was rocked, the finer gold and sand, would wash through the holes in the top box and be caught by ridges and canvas on the apron. The larger rocks caught by the hopper would be thrown out, and the process repeated with a new batch of dirt and gravel.
|Men Posed on Flume,
Sluicing was even better than using a cradle as a flow of running water did most
most of the work of separating the gold from the dirt and gravel.
Shafts and Tunnels
To get to gold that was deep in the ground, miners had to "sink shafts" down into the ground and "run tunnels" into the side of a hill.
|Windlass at the
|The Neversweat Mine
Miners who had dug shafts into the ground were often faced with water seeping into the shaft and flooding it.
|Cornish Wheel and Flume,
The Davis Claim,
The quickest way of mining gold from hills was the use of hydraulic mining, but it was not used in British Columbia until later years.
Hydraulic Mining, 1897
Unfortunately, this could also be quite dangerous. It was not uncommon for overly eager miners to be buried when the bank of a hillside caved down on top of them. The quickest method of attempting a rescue was to "sluice them out" using the same jet of water.