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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
August 15, 2001     Feather River Bulletin
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August 15, 2001

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168 Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2001 By Tord Daoust Portola Editor If you've ever imagined how people lived before the advent of refrigerators, wash- ing machines, microwave ovens, television and comput- ers, a trip to Plumas Eureka State Park's Living History Day Saturday, Aug. 25, will give you some of those an- swers. The Moriarity House park docents will take a trip back in time and present special treats such as Cornish pasties, ice cream, home- made butter, bread and jam. The Moriarity House is lo- cated in an area which was once called Echo Flats, across the street from the park mu- seum. The area got its name dur- ing the time when the stamp mill was in full production. At that time, there were no trees in the area; all had been cut to build mine tunnels, homes and for heating. The sound of the 60 stamps, each weighing between 600- 900 pounds, was deafening at times as the sound of crush- ing rock echoed off the sur- rounding mountains. The Moriarity House is the last house standing and much of the information about the family and what it was like living in the area during mining operations came from Edna Moriarity. Edna's mother, Maggie Mo- riarity, came to Plumas Eure- ka with her husband. John, and two children. Eight more children, in- cluding Edna, who was the youngest, were born in the house. John passed away in 1913, a young man in his 40s. Edna remembers having to walk to school in Johnsville, which during the winter months, proved to be quite a distance. In an attempt to keep the children warm and safe, Mag- gie used the membrane of chicken eggs to cover the area around the children's lips. The family raised much of their own vegetables and ani- mals. Edna recalled the parlor was not used much for the family; it was strictly for, en- tertaining guests. With so many children liv- ing in such a small house, it is easy to see how difficult life must have been at times. There were two outhouses, one under the lean-to behind the kitchen, which was used during the winter months, and the other beyond the picket fence. With no indoor plumbing, water for cooking and baths had to be hauled in each day and boiled on the stove. After leaving the Moriarity House, you will probably want to see the blacksmith shop, where "hot" docents such as Jack Thompson and Don Schlueter revive the an- cient art of smithing using the many antique tools that line the walls of this smithy. For the truly history con- scious, there is even a seven- foot leather bellows and a wheel-shrinker used to tight- en the metal rim around wooden wagon wheels. This is not play acting. All of the blacksmith docents are skilled smiths, as were the original smiths of Eureka Mine, who were paid half again as much as the miners for their ability to make or repair the miner's drills and candleholders before the ad- vent of the carbide head lamp. Some of the tools made on- site today are available for sale in the museum's gift shop, with the proceeds going to the Plumas Eureka State Park Association. Across from the black- smith shop, you might want to look at the Bushman Stamp Mill, where docents will explain how the ore was crushed and the gold extract- ed. After the ore was brought down from the mine, it was first passed through a grizzly, a big steel grate, to be sorted for size or hammered small enough to fall through. From there it went to a Blake jaw crusher, which crushed the egg-sized ore into corn kernel size. rooms, a parlor, a bedroom, a family dining room and a kitchen. The house is perched on a fieldstone foundation, and is authentic to the smallest de- tail, including the attic stair candleholder and the Victori- an parlor furniture. .... It was then Hm'~y~, which automatically fed small quantities of ore into a stamp battery, or mortar. There, huge steel shoes up to 950-pounds apiece were lifted and dropped onto the particles of rock sitting on steel dies, crushing the ore into a wet, fine pulp mixed of the Plumas County Museum Odd and Unusual Artifacts Here's this week's look at one of the treasures not normally on display at the Plumes County Museum. Our featured artifact is wood and metal. It is approx- imately 44" long by 44" tail by 22" wide. The metal handle cranks the gears. There ere rollers in front and back that are adjustable, in this shot a wagon wheel rim is inserted in the tool. What is it, what was it used for? The answer will be in next week's paper. If you think you know what it is, call the mu- seum at 2834320. Last week's answer. It is an oM pail that was hung on an oak tree near Nelson Point over 100 years ago. The tree grew into the tmeket. Donated by the late Violet Mori, Quincy. [ PLUMASNEWS.COM Bulletin, with water and mercury. It was then filtered through a fine mesh at the front of the mortar and onto an amalgamation table consisting of large copper plates coated with mercury to adhere to the flecks of gold slowly passing" by. The amalgam was periodi- cally scraped off the copper plates and "retorted" to sepa- rate gold from mercury, which could then be used again. The sandy residue passing over the amalgamation plates next moved to a Vanner, a vi- brating table, to recover any remaining gold missed by the mercury process. Even after all that, there would still be up to $2 of gold per ton of tailings left in the sandy mix. These tailings would be processed in arrastras, a sim- ple mill of stone-on-stone, grinding slowly. There is a small arrastra in the museum and you might want to give it a try on a small scale. After learning about how gold was extracted, a trip to the assay office will explain how the gold was logged, weighed and shipped. The old safe in the assay of- fice remains locked, the com- bination lost forever. Could it possibly hold more secrets from the past? Do- cents say probably not, but it is fun to speculate, A leisurely walk up to the newly opened Eureka Tunnel will definitely add flavor to the entire A short part has been tors the feelin[ like working hours each day dark, damp There is and do and the fect location lunch. For more Living History Plumas Eureka call 836.2380. UI. n pc ....... i Ill I. UP. ........ g(Illl m411. BUS OVER IS YEARS OPEN MON.-SAT.. 2830 MAIN STREET . SUSANVILLE . 257-7788