Men at Work: Agents, Captains, and Contract Miners
Traditional hand technologies gave way to mechanized means of production, and developing new machines required considerable capital. Mine enterprises were led by practically trained men who had learned the business from the bottom up. All these transformations could be seen at the Lake Superior copper mines. At the mines, the agent and the head mining captain continued to hold the most pivotal roles. Companies sold miners explosives by the keg or box, fuse by hundred-foot lengths and candles by the pound. Some “company account” men worked for daily wages. The mines always had small jobs that required but a few days' work. The companies turned these workers over to a contingent of miners carried on the payroll. Underground workers lined up in the shaft-rockhouses to have their entering and leaving times recorded daily on cards. Change itself became a contentious issue.
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