With Big Bertha in the news on a regular basis we got to thinking about boring machines in general. Or rather, interesting boring machines. One in particular comes to mind, from the historic coal mining community of Roslyn, Washington:
From Roslyn local historian, Sue Litchfield:
Steep-pitched mines predominated the Roslyn-Cle Elum Coal Field, making it more expensive to extract coal than the relatively flat coal seams in the east and Midwest. In an effort to cut costs Tom Murphy the mine’s general manager designed and built the N.W.I. Company’s coal boring machine. The boring machine was able to drill crosscuts and air tunnels in a third of the time required by conventional means. “Murphy earned recognition from engineers throughout America and other countries for his genius in coping with the problems of steep-pitch mining in the Roslyn Cle Elum Field,” wrote Cle Elum’s Miner Echo. “A boring machine, first put on paper about 1940 and finally constructed in the Roslyn shops about 2 years ago, was one of his pet projects. Employed at the No. 3 Mine, the machine has eliminated the expensive upkeep of ordinary main airways by boring them 42 inches in diameter through the coal.
These photos of the Northwest Improvement Company’s coal boring machine, as well as other mining machinery and equipment photos were digitized by the Roslyn Public Library with grant assistance from the Washington State Library. They are part of the Washington Rural Heritage Collection and come from the family photo collection of a descendant of Frank Badda, who worked for decades in the Roslyn mines, working his way up to the position of Superintendent until the last mine was closed in 1963.
Oh and back to Big Bertha, she does have one thing that the Roslyn boring machine lacked… a Twitter page.