An arrastre was a simple rock crushing mill, made of easily found local materials, and was used in some of the smaller Nova Scotia mines to crush quartz ore. It could be powered by humans, but horses, mules, or oxen were more widely used. A circular pit was bottomed with flat stones. In the center of the pit, a post was attached to long horizontal wooden poles. One or two heavy flat-bottomed stones were attached to one of the poles; the other pole was pushed (by humans) or pulled (by animals) around the circular pit. As they turned, the heavy stones crushed the ore into powder.

The word arrastre comes from a Spanish word, arrastrar, that means “to drag along the ground.” The Spanish brought this technology with them to South America in the 1500s, and it was widely used by prospectors during the California gold rush of the early 1850s. Many people travelled the continent following the boom and bust of successive gold rushes, so technological ideas and advances travelled with them.
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Dian Day, Susan Sellers, Rita Wilson

Nova Scotia, CANADA
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