Britannia is well known for being a copper mine, but did you know the Britannia Mining and Smelting Company also held all of the timber rights to their land claims?
The timber rights were an essential part of the Mine’s operations. Quite a bit of timber was needed for constructing buildings, bridges, rail lines, tramways, and of course several different aspects of the Mine itself.
One of the tools used at the logging camps back in the woods was the steam donkey. These steam-powered winches enabled the Company to move logs from where they were cut to the saw mill. The donkeys consisted essentially of a steam engine for power and a winch. The donkey was mounted on a wooden skid to allow it to be moved from location to location.
Not all donkeys were steam donkeys however.
This week, Harry, Britannia’s Mine Manager (yes we still need a Mine Manager), took me up onto the hills of Britannia Beach to show me a gas donkey abandoned in the woods at some point in our past.
On first examination it looks like something you would expect to find in the woods of Britannia – rusty, wood rotting, long forgotten, and perhaps a little unique. It appeared to be not much more than a winch attached to a car engine and transmission. If that is the case, it is another example of how the people of Britannia adapted what they had to accomplish what they needed to.
Now if only we can find a home for it. As with all museums, there are far more objects available than we can make a home for, so for now it will remain on the hillside where it was abandoned – a part of Britannia’s hidden past, lost in the woods – until we can determine its fate. Will it become part of our collection? The answer will come soon.