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The Seizure that Shook Quicksilver Mine
Jamieson River, Victoria, Australia.
Who would have thought a simple seizure could change a mine’s fortunes?
Certainly not Richard O’Brien.
In 1893, the Victorian farmer found deposits of mercury (also known as quicksilver) and cinnabar on a little site perched 100 metres above Jamieson River.
Full of excitement, he soon set up the Jamieson Quicksilver Mining Company, sunk a shaft, and started mining.
However, the site was so hard to get to, and so unsafe, that from the beginning it was slow going, and the common consensus was that the company was never going to succeed.
Eight years passed, and it looked as though common wisdom was right.
However, the company kept doggedly pursuing its dream of profit, and in 1901, a London syndicate, rumoured to be full of rich Rothschilds, took note of the Jamieson Company.
In response to the company’s pitch, the Londoners were willing to buy the mine for £100,000 (nearly 12 million pounds in today’s money).
Things were looking very, very good for Richard and his fellow owners, who at this stage also included Paddy Perkins, a Queensland politician and former brewer.
But fate had other ideas: while Paddy was on his way to a crucial meeting related to the deal, he had a seizure and died.
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The Swindler’s Snow Tunnel
1867 Summit County, Colorado
If you hire someone called “Gassy” Thompson, you probably deserve what you get.
This was a lesson an American mining firm by the name of the St Lawrence Company learnt the hard way.
During the winter of 1867, the St Lawrence Company hired Gassy Thompson to dig a 100-foot mining tunnel into the side of Decatur Mountain, Colorado.
Gassy got to work despite the dreadful winter weather, which had covered everything in a tremendously thick blanket of snow.
Satisfied with the final product, the St Lawrence Company paid Gassy $2,000 ($57,309.14 USD in today’s money).
So far, so good—until springtime.
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