Surveying is not what most people think of when they hear about mining, although it was a large aspect of what kept miners safe and the mines producing material. Ren Willie's mining display has a large collection of surveying instruments that are held in the Hutchings Museum.

Tape Measure by Archive MaterialHutchings Museum Institute

Engineer's tape measure

Geologists and surveyors would tell miners which direction to mine in order to find the ore they thought would be there. Surveying would happen throughout the entire mining process to keep miners on track and going in the right direction.

Metal Tape Measure by The Lufkin Rule Co.Hutchings Museum Institute

Metal tape measure

This tape measure is called the "Artisan" and made by the Lufkin Rule Co. It is of surveying quality and extends to 20 feet long. 

Plastic Scale by Photo Blue Co.Hutchings Museum Institute

Engineering ruler

When engineers and surveyors would work on blueprints and plans for mines, they would use a straight edge ruler like the one shown here. It is helpful for transferring and measuring distances at fixed ratios. The prism shape provides six sides for six different scales to be present on one ruler.

Surveying Compass by Archive MaterialHutchings Museum Institute

Surveying compass

It was necessary that everything in a mine be structurally sound and stable. Many tools were created and used to keep things level, straight, and at the correct angle. A surveying compass helps read the distance and angle of mine structures. To use this compass, a line is strung through the end and is connected to a post at the other end on the mine.

Brunton Compass by W. M. Ainsworth & SonHutchings Museum Institute

Brunton compass

Very similar to a surveying compass, the Brunton Pocket Transit Compass is simply a collapsible version of the surveying compass. 

Compass Compass (1917) by Archive MaterialHutchings Museum Institute


Needless to say, it clearly could be easy to get turned around while working in an underground mine. Compasses were helpful to have to point miners in the right direction.

Surveying Aneroid Barometer (Circa 1900) by Keuffel & Esser Co.Hutchings Museum Institute

Surveying aneroid barometer

A barometer measures air pressure. They were used in mines to tell how far down or what level the user was on. This is because air pressure rises as one moves towards the center of the earth.

Airspeed Indicator by TaylorHutchings Museum Institute

Air speed indicator

Miners would have put this on an air vent to see how much air (and how fast) was moving through the shafts.

Level by K. & E. Co.Hutchings Museum Institute


This level would have been used on corners. Specifically, it would have been used to measure the corners of timber beams as their structural stability is vital to the safety of the mine. 

Hand Level (Circa 1900) by Keuffel & Esser Co.Hutchings Museum Institute

A hand sight level like this is essentially a lever inside of a telescope. One miner looks through the sight towards a numbered ruler. 

Tire Gauge Tire Gauge (Patent 1923) by A. Schrader's Son, Inc.Hutchings Museum Institute

Tire gauge

Used to measure air pressure in tires, this gauge was used in the yard at the Lark Mine in Lark, Utah. 

Crescent Wrench (Cirac 1930) by Cresent Tool Co.Hutchings Museum Institute


The humidity in mines caused metal to rust exceptionally fast. To get rusty bolts unscrewed, miners would often have to pound crescent wrenches with hammers and mallets. While this wrench does not have markings from that, many wrenches became bowed or had a side pounded in.

Automatic Alcohol Torch (Circa 1925) by Lenk Manufacturing CompanyHutchings Museum Institute

This automatic alcohol torch come from the 1920's. It is used as a blow torch by filling up both the right and left chambers with alcohol. Both chambers unscrew to reveal a hollow opening with a fabric wick. Once the chambers are filled, the right side spout can be turned towards the left where the left chamber is left open and the wick is ignited with a match. After a moment, the spout will begin to propel a flame forward parallel to the ground. It is called an automatic torch because it does not require any pumping.

Dynamite Cabinet Lock by Archive MaterialHutchings Museum Institute


This lock was used underground on the dynamite cabinet in the Lark Mine in Lark, Utah. The rust is caused not only by age, but because of the humidity of the mine.

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