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Sanitary car

Sanitary car inside the Queen mine tour

Welded version with vertical handle inside the Queen mine tour

In the 1910’s sanitation in underground mines become essential with the parasite hook worm (miners anemia) being found in the California mother lode mines. Although no record of any diseases or parasites of this nature being found in Bisbee’s mines they introduced a new sanitation systems (toilet cars) underground in about 1916. Previously old dynamite boxes or the large carbide cans filled with lime were used as toilets, the leasers continued this practice until the 1940’s. The Bisbee cars were made in the mine shops and none of existing cars are identical and comparable cars were used by Bisbee’s major mining companies. Nice example still sits on the 600 station of the Shattuck mine it is obviously homemade and the wooden step is completely charred from the shaft fire in 1952. The basic design was very popular and is seen in other districts like Butte Montana , Hanover New Mexico and Jerome Arizona.In Bisbee the cars were found near the active work places. The cars are partially filled with water , then a creosote was added , which floated on top to help eliminate the smell. The cars were cared for by sanitary nippers (sh**t nippers)who kept them clean and transported them to the surface to be emptied. To empty the cars they were pushed on a track that went over a covered opening into a septic tank, then the cover was removed and the cars emptied. A myth persist in Bisbee of back in the days of carbide lamps, a miner was sitting on toilet car smoking while doing his business he decided to change the carbide in his lamp. In doing so he emptied the spent carbide in the other side of the car. After he was finished he trough his cigarette in after. This ignited the acetylene gas generated by the car exploding knocking of the car and covering him in Sh**T.

Toilet cars at the Junction Shaft Lowell, Arizona

Two toilet cars at the Junction Shaft collar

Toilet Car Bisbee, Arizona

Welded body version with vertical handles missing stand  in  front of the Bisbee mining and historical museum

Toilet Cars inside the Campbell mine yard Bisbee Arizona

Toilet cars lined up in the empting station at the Campbell mine circa 1970’s

Sanitary Car Queen mine tours

Welded version with horizontal handles Queen mine tour collection

Copper Queen Mine latrine

Diagram of toilet from1916  article of new mine cars from the Copper Queen


Heidelberg, Fred  Efficiency with new mine cars, Engineering & Mining Journal

Nov 18 1916 p.904

Mine Toilet Car for the Copper Queen Cons. Mng. Co, Daryshire- Harvie Iron and Machine Co., August 3,1916 Blueprint

Wilson E.B. Proceedings of the Lake Superior Mining Institute August 1912 Vol XVII  p117-121

Richard Graeme IV 2010, pers. comm., 8 February

Richard Graeme III  2010, pers. comm., 2 February

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