The Rossland consolidated mines used Jeffery-type locomotives, electrically powered by a 200 volt overhead power network. The locomotives would pull ore carts in and out of the mine, as well as occasionally transported men and equipment by hauling wooden flat-deck cars through the mine. The two 1900-model locomotives seen on the grounds of the museum are the number 34 and 35 locomotive ‘mules’. Both were presented to the museum in the 1970s.
Electric Mine Locomotives
In order to move ore, waste, and other materials through the mines, electric rails were used throughout the mine tunnels. By the closure of the mines in 1929 there was 137 kilometres (85 miles) of electric narrow-gauge track laid in the consolidated mines connecting down 22 levels of tunnels. The main purpose of these tracks was to haul waste out of the mines to the waste dumps located at various locations on Red Mountain. ‘Muckers’ were mine workers, usually younger and less experienced, whose job was to shovel the muddy waste rock into the ore carts to be sent out of the mines.
An Expansive Network
With the consolidation of many of the Rossland mines under the Consolidated Mining & Smelting Company, the tunnels of the main mines around and under Rossland were connected. This meant that so too where the electric rail tracks of these mines. As such, by the 1920s, an ore cart could travel from one edge of town to the other completely underground, entering the earth near the White Bear Mine, and leaving at the Columbia and Kootenay mine.
The Fate of the Tracks
With the closure of the Consolidated mines, all 137 kilometres of track as well as all carts and locomotives were removed from the mines to be used in other Consolidated Mining & Smelting projects.