2016 - The Ore Cart Caper
The Ore Cart Caper
by Bob Jaussaud
Ore carts have fascinated me since I was a little kid (Yes, that was a long time ago). I was introduced to ore carts at Knotts Berry Farm and again at Calico during early day family outings. I loved climbing around and in them. We rode in ore carts at Disneyland on the Mine Train in Frontierland. They have always been popular on TV and in movies. Indiana Jones even used an ore cart on one of his escapes. I was thrilled when I discovered an old photo of a very young, pre-Bob Sue and her sister at Calico with a mining train and a long string of ore carts in the background. My kind of women.
Ore carts have been around a lot longer than I have. Wikipedia has a drawing of one from 1556. An ore cart can go by many names including mine cart or mine trolley in the United States, cocopan in South Africa, and tubs or drams in Great Britain.
Traditional ore carts were made to roll on metal tracks. They were able to move large loads relatively easily. Originally, most ore carts were moved by men or animals. Steam, gas, diesel or electric locomotives were used at larger operations in later years.
Ore carts were obviously used all over the desert we explore and we often find mines with sections of track still intact. Unfortunately, ore carts themselves have become very scarce, as they were replaced with more efficient conveyor belts and almost all abandoned ore carts have been collected to serve as display pieces or yard art. The ore cart is still very much with us today, though, as they have evolved into the modern railroad car.
So, imagine my surprise when a good friend called last week and asked if I would like to have an old ore cart. Would I? A high school friend’s father had passed away and to settle his estate the family home was to be sold and demolished. The ore cart was going to be scrapped unless we came and collected it before the house went on the block. We did not hesitate. Through the generosity of Jenny, Joe and Jeff Jahraus and with the help of Greg Stewart, Mignon Slentz, Ron Lipari, Alan Schoenherr, and Suzy J., there is now an historic ore cart at its new home in our desert yard display.