The first underground gold mine opened in Nova Scotia at Mooseland in 1861 and a small arrastre was used to crush the quartz. Two years later there were over 30 stamp mills operating in Nova Scotian gold mines; the machinery was imported from Britain or the United States. Most of them were steam powered and were very expensive to run. By the end of that century many towns in Nova Scotia were manufacturing stamp mills, including Pictou, New Glasgow, Truro, Halifax, and Windsor.

The stamp mill was essentially a giant mechanized mortar and pestle – a massive pounding machine. Each stamp had a piston made out of cast iron or steel with a replaceable “shoe” at the bottom. Each stamp weighed between 225 and 400 kilograms, and stamps were usually arranged in groups of five. A steam engine rotated a camshaft that lifted each stamp twenty or twenty-five centimetres and then dropped it onto a tray of quartz. The stamps went up and down about once every second.

Stamp mills were extremely noisy and the pounding of the stamps caused massive vibrations inside the mill and in the surrounding area. For example, when the 50 stamp mills at Goldenville were operating, it could be heard at Sherbrooke some twelve kilometres away.
  
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Dian Day, Susan Sellers, Rita Wilson
Annie Blois Smith

Nova Scotia, CANADA
© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

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