LEARNING TO SEE: VISUAL TOOLS IN AMERICAN MINING ENGINEERING, 1860-1920
The period between 1860 and 1920 saw the development of mining engineeringas a profession, with journals, societies, and university programs. At the same time,mining engineers, as a group, gradually assumed more control over mining operations,both by being employed by more firms and by having greater responsibilities withinmining companies. Mining engineers used visual tools – mine maps, blueprints, photographs,and models – to help them do their work. The creation and control ofvisual tools represents an important piece of the story of the professionalization ofmining engineers that has hitherto gone largely unnoticed. I argue in this dissertationthat if we are to understand the ability of mining engineers to increase efficiency, weneed to understand the tools that they used, including visual tools. Mining engineersgradually learned how to make and use maps, photographs, blueprints, and models tohelp them gain greater control over work, information, the law, and public opinion.These visual tools were an integral part of the everyday work of mining engineeringby the end of this time period. I examine each type of visual tool in turn, using specific historical examples.The Pennsylvania anthracite coal mines of Coxe Brothers & Co. allow me to tracethe evolution of underground mine maps. Two Michigan copper mines, the Quincyand the Calumet & Hecla, help me explain how the advent of blueprint technologychanged work and organization practices at the mines. My examination of threedimensional mine models begins with an overview and examples of their primaryforms, then I use a mining law case from Tonopah, Nevada in 1914 to see how modelsand maps were used in the courtroom. Next, I focus on the topic of mine safety,using examples from anthracite and bituminous coal mines, to trace how managersused safety photographs to direct the work of miners. I then move outside the scopeof individual mining companies and relate the project of the United States NationalMuseum to explicitly boost the mining industry in the early 20th century by placingexhibits in the museum that painted the industry in a favorable light.
|Year of publication:||
|Authors:||Nystrom, Eric Charles|
|Type of publication:||Book / Working Paper|
|Type of publication (narrower categories):||Thesis|
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