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Where did people poop in mines in the old days?


Randomguy
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I imagine that there are port-o-potties or somesuch in mines now, but how about one or two hundred years ago or even in ancient times? 

I would guess that mines would begin to smell like urine and feces (like NJ) pretty quickly unless something was done.  They probably wandered over to spent areas of the mine, but that would smell crappy pretty quickly, and they probably were meant not to be away from working for long enough to go far or to the surface for dumpage or leakage.

So what did they do?

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Where did miners go to the toilet?

This is a bit of a delicate question, as several local women found when they asked Harry Richardson during a visit to the pit in 1978! Basically, if you needed to go to the toilet, you found a quiet spot and you did what you needed to. In the old days, in the days of conveyors, men would often do their business on a shovel and tip it on a conveyor. It would taken be taken up to the surface but with all the other muck those working on the screens wouldn't have noticed!

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Just now, jsharr said:

Where did miners go to the toilet?

This is a bit of a delicate question, as several local women found when they asked Harry Richardson during a visit to the pit in 1978! Basically, if you needed to go to the toilet, you found a quiet spot and you did what you needed to. In the old days, in the days of conveyors, men would often do their business on a shovel and tip it on a conveyor. It would taken be taken up to the surface but with all the other muck those working on the screens wouldn't have noticed!

Gross!

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Sanitary car

Welded version with vertical handle inside the Queen mine tour

image.png.b5b007afc2f71b9085856efa187c5124.png

In the 1910’s sanitation in underground mines become essential with the parasite hook worm (miners anemia) being found in the California mother lode mines. Although no record of any diseases or parasites of this nature being found in Bisbee’s mines they introduced a new sanitation systems (toilet cars) underground in about 1916. Previously old dynamite boxes or the large carbide cans filled with lime were used as toilets, the leasers continued this practice until the 1940’s. The Bisbee cars were made in the mine shops and none of existing cars are identical and comparable cars were used by Bisbee’s major mining companies. Nice example still sits on the 600 station of the Shattuck mine it is obviously homemade and the wooden step is completely charred from the shaft fire in 1952. The basic design was very popular and is seen in other districts like Butte Montana , Hanover New Mexico and Jerome Arizona.In Bisbee the cars were found near the active work places. The cars are partially filled with water , then a creosote was added , which floated on top to help eliminate the smell. The cars were cared for by sanitary nippers (sh**t nippers)who kept them clean and transported them to the surface to be emptied. To empty the cars they were pushed on a track that went over a covered opening into a septic tank, then the cover was removed and the cars emptied. A myth persist in Bisbee of back in the days of carbide lamps, a miner was sitting on toilet car smoking while doing his business he decided to change the carbide in his lamp. In doing so he emptied the spent carbide in the other side of the car. After he was finished he trough his cigarette in after. This ignited the acetylene gas generated by the car exploding knocking of the car and covering him in Sh**T.

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"In the days of miners having to walk long distances underground to get to their working areas, what did they do about going to the toilet?

 

The floor.

1800s specifically.

With mass amount of immigrants flooding into every other country to seek opportunity. Mining was the first job choice during industrial revolutionary period, due to the rising growth of cities and towns.

From the books a single mining tunnel could go on for a mile, so walking back to use the restroom(if they even had porta potties) would have bursted their bladders by then. There likely were several paths within the tunnel created in search for finding mineral veins, and spring waters. And any paths that were not used to mine were likely used as a relief station and that is how the miners back in the day mined with dignity.

And since there were a common occurance of methane hiding within the rocks, the miners would definitely avoid doing their business anywhere near their working area. Because if the stench overpowered the gases and had not been noticed, one strike of a pickaxe would ignite a super heated explosion which would cave in the entire surface and crush anything within the tunnels."

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56 minutes ago, Randomguy said:

Sanitary car

Welded version with vertical handle inside the Queen mine tour

image.png.b5b007afc2f71b9085856efa187c5124.png

In the 1910’s sanitation in underground mines become essential with the parasite hook worm (miners anemia) being found in the California mother lode mines. Although no record of any diseases or parasites of this nature being found in Bisbee’s mines they introduced a new sanitation systems (toilet cars) underground in about 1916. Previously old dynamite boxes or the large carbide cans filled with lime were used as toilets, the leasers continued this practice until the 1940’s. The Bisbee cars were made in the mine shops and none of existing cars are identical and comparable cars were used by Bisbee’s major mining companies. Nice example still sits on the 600 station of the Shattuck mine it is obviously homemade and the wooden step is completely charred from the shaft fire in 1952. The basic design was very popular and is seen in other districts like Butte Montana , Hanover New Mexico and Jerome Arizona.In Bisbee the cars were found near the active work places. The cars are partially filled with water , then a creosote was added , which floated on top to help eliminate the smell. The cars were cared for by sanitary nippers (sh**t nippers)who kept them clean and transported them to the surface to be emptied. To empty the cars they were pushed on a track that went over a covered opening into a septic tank, then the cover was removed and the cars emptied. A myth persist in Bisbee of back in the days of carbide lamps, a miner was sitting on toilet car smoking while doing his business he decided to change the carbide in his lamp. In doing so he emptied the spent carbide in the other side of the car. After he was finished he trough his cigarette in after. This ignited the acetylene gas generated by the car exploding knocking of the car and covering him in Sh**T.

It's interesting that we seldom hear of how fecal material and pee was handled in the old days.

There are just a few instances I recall about that.

When I visited the ruins of Ephesus on the Aegean Coast of Turkey, I was amazed that the main street had street lights, that there was a public library at the lower end of it, and that there were buildings for the public toilets.

You sat down over a hole and, toilet paper being nonexistent, you cleaned yourself with your hand and a trough of continuously running water ran at your feet for the purpose of cleaning your hand.

When Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic, on his way back from Paris he stopped in England, where the King asked him, "How did you pee?" (out the window).

There's a tremendous book about Cortes and the Conquest of Mexico written by one of the Conquistadors, Bernal Diaz de Castillo, who wanted to set the record straight and stop the embellishment and hype of other authors who weren't there.  The book is obviously not written by a highly skilled writer, but it contains details you don't find anywhere else.

For example, he talks about the men shitting their pants while fighting because there wasn't time to do anything else.  The native women in their party were responsible for cleaning the clothes and weapons later.

As far as mines go, I was guessing that with the large number of miners working and the limited number of areas being worked on at any given time, some form of fecal removal had to occur to avoid problems with the air, even if a side-shaft was dug with a latrine.

 

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