Sandmining: Danger

In the 1800’s, people from many European countries came to Long Island, New York, to work in the local sand mines. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont. This music is from Sardinia, the birthplace of many Long Island sand miners, including Albert Michael Salerno and his father.

“The sand that we mined used to be called Cow Bay Sand because it was the best granular sand that you could find to make concrete.”

The sand mines of Cow Bay, now called Port Washington, were eventually mined out and crowded out by the spreading residential settlement of the greater New York City area. But in their heyday, the mines were a thriving industry.

“Probably every building and subway you see in New York City was built by sand that came from Long Island.”

Salerno worked for some time as a “caver”, a member of a two-man team that would dig underneath a sand bank to clear the way for machinery. lt was not a job for the faint of heart.

“You had to be alert. When you are the first man in and the other man is behind you about six feet, he’s constantly watching the bank with the movement of the sand trickling down. And that would be telltale sign that a cave was gonna be coming. And if you don’t back out fast enough, you go down with the slide and you have to keep running at an angle. Not with the slide but at an angle of the slide to get out of it. Otherwise it sucks you in. It was really dangerous. But I was young and I liked it, (laughs), crazy.”

Our thanks to Elly Shodell and the Port Washington Public Library for their assistance in making this program possible. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Sandmining: Danger

The sand mined in Cow Bay, Long Island was used in the concrete of many New York skyscrapers. It was dangerous work for the Sardinian immigrants who worked in the mines.
Air Date:05/18/2000
Scientist:
Transcript:

In the 1800's, people from many European countries came to Long Island, New York, to work in the local sand mines. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont. This music is from Sardinia, the birthplace of many Long Island sand miners, including Albert Michael Salerno and his father.

"The sand that we mined used to be called Cow Bay Sand because it was the best granular sand that you could find to make concrete."

The sand mines of Cow Bay, now called Port Washington, were eventually mined out and crowded out by the spreading residential settlement of the greater New York City area. But in their heyday, the mines were a thriving industry.

"Probably every building and subway you see in New York City was built by sand that came from Long Island."

Salerno worked for some time as a "caver", a member of a two-man team that would dig underneath a sand bank to clear the way for machinery. lt was not a job for the faint of heart.

"You had to be alert. When you are the first man in and the other man is behind you about six feet, he's constantly watching the bank with the movement of the sand trickling down. And that would be telltale sign that a cave was gonna be coming. And if you don't back out fast enough, you go down with the slide and you have to keep running at an angle. Not with the slide but at an angle of the slide to get out of it. Otherwise it sucks you in. It was really dangerous. But I was young and I liked it, (laughs), crazy."

Our thanks to Elly Shodell and the Port Washington Public Library for their assistance in making this program possible. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.