Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Mucking and Drilling

Julie and I have lived in Park City for eight years now. In our town, we don't really celebrate Labor Day, we celebrate Miner's Day.  I'm not quite sure how this occurred, but it does allow us to honor our 100+ history.

Every Miner's Day, after the Funky 5k race and the parade, they hold the Mucking and Drilling competition.  After eight years, I finally decided to go see what it was all about.  First let's start with mucking.

When the miners were digging shafts they would use dynamite to blow out some rock.  Somehow you had to get that lose rock out and haul it to the surface.  Park City's mines were mostly producing silver and you mine that by hauling out tons of rock and filtering out the small amounts of silver.  It doesn't exist in big veins like gold does.

Enter the Muckmeister 2000 (my name for it).
This old monstrosity has two parts, the scoop/engine and the empty car.  The engine allows the driver to drive back and forth on the tracks and to manipulate the bucket like a front end loader.
The contest is to fill the empty car up as fast as possible. This required a balance between things like:
  • Taking the time to get a really full scoop versus moving much faster and only getting 2/3s of a scoop each time.
  • Taking the time to back up further, to get more speed, but that takes more time for each shovel.
The winning times were around a minute.

This gentleman was very competitive but didn't manage to defend his title from last year.  By the way, his 88th birthday is next month.  A huge, huge crowd favorite.
And on to the drilling.  This is much easier to guess what is involved.  To blast rock with dynamite, they had to drill holes in the rock.  Speed and accuracy are the keys.  First, we need a rock, and a big one. I have nothing but my own landscaping experience to base this on, but I would guess this rock weighs at least 20,000 pounds.  It was cut and then engraved with the events sponsors.
You start the competition by picking up the 125 pound pneumatic drill  and running to the rock.  You are assigned a pair of roughly 3" square spots where you have to drill. I'm thinking this guy is a bit stronger than I am.
Once you got a hole started in the right place you move behind the drill and crank up the speed.

I would suggest that you not wear your favorite dress shirt to compete.  His was clean about 30 seconds ago.
Some competitors chose to put their fairly significant weight into it.
Others seemed to take a much more casual approach.  Surprisingly, it seemed to work just as well.
When you finished drilling both holes, about 30 inches deep, you grabbed the drill and ran back to the starting line.  It does not look like anything I need to try.
This isn't something I'll go to each year, but it was definitely something to go see once.
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