Mysterious "Wasp Nests" that were used for gold mining in America in the 19th centuryPictolic
History is full of interesting and complete information about historical events, personalities and sights, but sometimes it throws up riddles for us. About some things, the purpose of which has been forgotten over time and which today look strange and amazing. Here is one such example.
These are Hornet Balls (Hornet Nests) - reinforced concrete hollow spheres on a frame of iron mesh, similar to giant medieval incendiary devices. Unusual artifacts were found on the ruins of the Liberty mine in the US state of Virginia.
They are two meters high and more than six meters in circumference. The weight of each ball is more than seven tons. The most interesting thing is that even experts are not sure what the purpose of these devices was, how they were used and why they were so named.
These two relics of Virginia's gold mining past are located at the Gold Mining Camp Museum in Goldwein. Not everyone knows that Virginia was one of the first American states in which gold was discovered. It happened in 1782, when Thomas Jefferson found a gold-bearing rock on the banks of the Rappahannock River.
By 1804, gold prospectors and small mining enterprises began to work in full swing in the state. Most of these enterprises were concentrated in the "golden pyrite belt" — a strip of land with a width of 24 to 40 km, which stretches for almost 320 km along the eastern side of the Blue Ridge.
The peak of gold mining in Virginia occurred in the 1840s, and by 1849, gold mining in the state had almost ceased. This was the year when most miners moved west, driven by the California Gold rush. Interest in Virginia gold appeared again in 1934, when the price of a troy ounce rose to $ 35. However, this revival was short-lived. Gold mining in Virginia stopped in the late 1930s, and the last time gold was mined in the state was in 1947.
In October 1998, Monroe Park and the Gold Mining Camp Museum opened in Goldwein. Today it is a place where you can learn about the history of gold mining in the state of Virginia. Nearby, in Fauquier County, there are 18 abandoned mines, and the museum reproduces a mining camp from the 1930s.
Let's return to the mysterious giant "hornet nests". They were found at the mine, but it is unclear how they were used. It is believed that with the help of these devices, ore was crushed into pebbles to separate gold from stone. Apparently, they were mounted on an axis and rotated around a central point (on horse or steam traction).
Opinions also differ as to whether the ore was crushed inside the balls or under them when they rotated in the chute.
The origin of their name is also no less mysterious. Some people think that it came from the buzzing emitted during the operation of the balls. Others believe that this name comes from the striking similarity with the nests of hornets or wasps. But all experts seem to agree that this name is unique in its own way.