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One Stamp Mill

Posted by
Steve Rice (Olympia, United States) on 17 June 2011 in Business & Industry.

This machine made possible the recovery of gold from the rock of the ore. The first part would crush the ore to gravel sized pieces. This part, the stamp, would pound the gravel into dust. Attached to that round rod at the top was a heavy hammer (stamp) that would be repeatedly dropped on the ore. The dust would then be washed down a sluice box or over metal plates coated with mercury which attracts the gold.

The mercury paste would be heated in a retort like the one in the foreground. The mercury would boil off, condense, and be captured for reuse. The gold would be left in the retort. The formula for such a mill was: 1 ton of ore processed in 24 hours yields 1 ounce (28.3 grams) of gold. This assumes ore of a high enough grade. At the time, gold was worth $30 per ounce.

Joshua Tree National Park
Part of the Great American West series.

Veronique from Hautes-Pyrénées, France

seems lot of work for a few grams of gold !

17 Jun 2011 7:01am

@Veronique: A lot of work for sure. Even in those days, a one stamp mill was barely economically viable. More stamps meant more money. It's still a lot of work in any case.

jpla from St Barthélémy d, France

On replonge dans le passé ! Je te souhaite une agréable journée


17 Jun 2011 7:15am

Sarito from Basingstoke, United Kingdom

Excellent shot.. love the clarity and light.

17 Jun 2011 7:55am

Battements d'Cils (Peggy M) from France

C'est agréable, lorsque je viens chez toi je découvre des milliers de choses et je voyage là où je n'ai jamais mis les pieds.
Tu fais voyager mes yeux et c'est délicieux !

17 Jun 2011 8:19am

Mhelene from Paris, France

Incredible machine for gold !!!...A superb photo very clear and beautiful !

17 Jun 2011 9:07am

Paco Díaz from Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Fabulous instrument! Great documentary image!

17 Jun 2011 9:33am

Vaido from Võrumaa, Estonia

What an equipment! Very good documentary shot.

17 Jun 2011 9:49am

Stephen from Canberra, Australia

Extraordinary piece of machinery - and an excellent documentary shot, Steve, of this site and its processes.

17 Jun 2011 10:47am

Tede from Aubenas 07, France

A relic that had to go see a lot of gold !!!!! Superb image. Good day.

17 Jun 2011 12:52pm

Eric Cousineau from Sherwood Park, Canada

A golden capture of this piece of history Steve! Well done! ;-)

17 Jun 2011 1:45pm

Longroute from Cagliari, Italy

Here the rust offers fine textures, so you did well to leave the colours, quite interesting, both the image and the note.

17 Jun 2011 1:45pm

Shaahin Bahremand from Tehran, Iran

fantastic view

17 Jun 2011 2:37pm

k@ from Paris, France

One can imagine the old times & guys around, the family, the life... Absence of characters in the image and yet... so full of ghosts, right ? Have a nice end of week, Steve ~ 

17 Jun 2011 3:40pm

@k@: Many ghosts, all with the gleam of gold in their eyes. ;-)

Florence from Paris, France

Incredible remains of the past. It's so easy to imagine what was life around here a century and a half ago.

17 Jun 2011 6:11pm

Francisco Romero from Carbajal de la Legua, Spain

Those ocher tones seem to belong to this natural scenery. Working with cyanide and mercury in the conditions of these past times is now scaring. Beautiful image and thanks again for the explanations.

17 Jun 2011 6:16pm

Phil David Morris 2011 from Saskatoon, Toronto, Canada

A wonderful bit of high tech at the time imagination and machinery. Great to
see these rusted reminders back in use in the desert.

17 Jun 2011 6:58pm

k@ from Paris, France

Super well said, Steve, i (really) was feeling i could see them (like a flash) with your words !

17 Jun 2011 7:19pm

Viewfinder from Bradenton, FL, United States

Cool stuff. I like.

17 Jun 2011 8:30pm

john4jack from Corvallis, Oregon, United States

outstanding detail

17 Jun 2011 11:54pm

Bill Brown from California, United States

Outstanding composition and detail!

18 Jun 2011 12:10am

Jason Politte from Conway, AR, United States

Love this old machinery - that wooden wheel is too cool! Great shot and excellent info, Steve!

18 Jun 2011 12:38am

Denny Jump Photo from Easton, PA, United States

What an amazing process and a wonderful narrative, Steve - thank you so much. It also amazes me how ingenious folks were back then when they had very little, if any, tools and materials to construct!

18 Jun 2011 12:48am

Jojigirl from Badian, Philippines

"Rust may have overtaken me, but I have been here for the gold." - The Stamp Mill ;)

18 Jun 2011 2:33am

Suzanne from Melbourne, Australia

the light makes everything so tangible
beautifully framed and thanks for all the info it's very interesting
loving the series
cheers Suzanne:))

18 Jun 2011 2:51am

Nicou from Sion, Switzerland

Quelle vielle machine fantastique captage et compo superbe avec le poulie les entraînement splendide

18 Jun 2011 3:49am

Ioanaz from Bucharest, Romania

very interesting machine and shot of course! i like the deep blue sky and compo!

18 Jun 2011 5:58am

Ana Lúcia from Leiria, Portugal

Very interesting shot :)

18 Jun 2011 10:19am

PATRICK from miramas, France


18 Jun 2011 7:39pm

ORBIT from Kerman, Iran

WOW! cool. :D

18 Jun 2011 9:02pm

Daryl Johnson from New Malden, United Kingdom

Elaborate, clever piece of machinery...

18 Jun 2011 11:40pm