KARANGAHAKE the years of the gold 1875 -1935
The operation of underground mining consists of forever going into the unknown. Every round fired reveals a new face as the reef constantly changes along its course. It is always getting wider or narrower, richer or poorer, and quite often giving off small side leaders, or gaining leaders coming in from the side. Consequently miners are always interested in the new face — the "Revelation of the Unknown". Some like to do a bit of specking (looking for specks of colour) while cleaning down the new face or just perhaps speculating on the increase or decrease of values. A small leader going off the reef also leads to speculation. Is it taking values? Will it get wider if pursued, or will it just run away to nothing?
Speculation of just this sort overcame Dolph Schultz and his mate while working one afternoon shift in the Talisman. A small leader ran off and disappeared into the footwall. On closer inspection they both agreed that it was carrying values although it was only an inch wide. After working along it in one weak spot with the pick, they found it widened to two inches very quickly. A little more work showed that it was still widening and moving further from the reef. After taking a sample in their pockets, they covered it with mud and dirt, hoping that it would not be found. The assay of their sample was very favourable, and as they knew that the Talisman was on the way out, they agreed to come back in later years when everything had quietened down, and follow the leader further into the mountain.
Dolph, whose full name was Rudolph Schulski, was born in Germany near the Polish border in 1875. He was of peasant stock and worked in the fields. He often told me of the hard life of the people in that area. There was little money, but always food in abundance, log fires, feather beds and strapping buxom frauliens.
Seeing no future for himself at home, he worked his passage to New Zealand on a cargo ship at the turn of the century. Conditions and treatment for these men was of a low order, and he was glad to arrive.
Not much is known of his wanderings, except that he was interned during the First World War, and consequently often passed himself off as a Pole. On leaving Karangahake he worked on labouring jobs in Auckland.
When he returned to Karangahake about 1925 he boarded with the Robinsons who lived just above the school. He took up mining land and worked in various places waiting for the time when the area where his leader was located became vacant. Johnny Morris had the area at first and then the Dubbo Mining Co.
When I first got to know Dolph in the early thirties, he was working an old level below Talisman No. 8. It was quite dry and a lot of the timber was in good order.
In 1934 he bought the boarded-up tent which had been occupied by Mr and Mrs Wallace (Vi and Charlie), until their house in River Road was built. Later he put on an iron roof and boarded it up completely. It can still be seen at the Gold Camp over beside Scotchman's Gully Creek. When Dolph passed on it was used for some years by Andy McDonald, and later by Bob Ellis.
As was the case with most of the old miners who returned and those who stayed on fossicking around the old workings, Dolph had the "Gold Fever".
Others who worked on the old sites after the close down were Grieves and Waines who worked the Talisman Battery site and sent their concentrates to Australia for treatment. Two-Inch O'Brien, who worked the same site some years later, and then Clem O'Brien, who also erected a treatment plant on the same site, and still got payable returns. Of course there was the indestructible Johnnie Morris, who built four separate treatment plants, none of which were really payable. Being the type of man who would, "Never say die, With a tear in his eye", he faced each failure with a grim, determined look in his old wrinkled face, and, gathering together the remnants of his last venture, would get cracking, and try again. Another man who worked around the east and south of the mountain was Cherry. He built a treatment plant of salvaged gear: Stamps, Crusher, Tanks, Bedan and Vanner Table etc. around the Waitawheta Gorge, just in front of the old Talisman Hopper on the left-hand side, about 150 yds before the Monastery. This hopper was fed by an aerial tramway from up on the Trig Road. The remains of the plant could still be seen before the 1981 flood. He was a very energetic man and always seemed to be rushing somewhere. It was a familiar sight to see his ancient ton truck, with no cab, travelling at a reckless speed, away up on the Trig Road, with its narrow, twisting rock-hewn track.
While the Dubbo Company was working, Dolph tried to sell his information to Bill McConachie, the Manager, and offered to show him his payable leader for $4000, but his offer was not accepted.
At last the Dubbo closed down and Dolph lost no time in applying for the Mining Rights over the piece of land he required. Access from the Northern side was not available, so he tackled it through the Earl Of Glasgow drive from the south. This drive was quite safe for a short distance, but then became very dangerous indeed, with great domes of rock hanging away up on the roof and walls. Parts had completely fallen in. The "picking up" of the old drive would have been a very costly and dangerous procedure, so Dolph decided he would have to make another drive around the dangerous section. This was, indeed, a tremendous challenge for a virtually penniless old man of about 65.
Being on his own, he was forced to use the Gympie method of mining by using smaller drills, a one-handed hammer and small plugs of gelignite. (It is named after the town of Gympie in Australia). Occasionally a friend would give him a hand which was a great help, because a two—handed hammer could then be used.
As the Drive was on the south side or the "back", and well up the mountain, it was quite a long, steep walk, even though he took a short-cut by travelling from the back of his shanty, up past the Comstock, then across Scotchman's Gully Road and up to Jimmy Grace's shanty, then directly up a narrow, steep track to the trig Road. This was followed right up to the shanty where Davy Leach, Teddy Grace and Bill Simms, among others, had lived. The track followed the then walking track up the mountain for some distance before branching off to the left, and leading further to the south around the mountain, to the mouth of his Drive on the right, and his small bush shanty on the left. This bush shanty was very handy, because, if the weather was bad, he could spend the night, and in later years, when his strength was waning, he would spend every other night there.
The years passed by and he kept doggedly on until well into his seventies, when at last he broke through into the old drive near to where his leader should be. The climax of all his hopes and dreams, that had kept his spirit buoyant during so many years of toil, had at last arrived.
Advancing cautiously, he was astounded to find that his leader had already been stoped out by the Dubbo Company. No wonder they did not want to buy it from him!
The blow was a great one and, having nothing more to hope or live for, he went downhill very quickly and died on 14 January 1955 at the age of 80.
Dolph was not a religious man and confessed to me that he was an athiest and had left money with some obscure sect in Waihi to attend to his funeral.
He is buried in Waihi Cemetery and his religion is recorded as "Rationalist".