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dry digging, verbal noun phrase

Origin:
U.S. EnglishShow more Transferred use of U.S. English dry-digging, a gold-mining term.
historical, Diamond-mining
Usually in the plural :a. A mining operation in which diamonds were extracted from weathered ground. b. The locality or mining camp associated with such a mining operation. Cf. river digging.
1872 C.A. Payton Diamond Diggings 7The ‘dry diggings’, lying about twenty-five miles away from the Vaal River, have been found, during the year 1871, to be so much more uniformly remunerative than those on the banks of the river.
1987 S. Afr. Holidays Guide (brochure) 46In 1869, a rich deposit of diamonds was found on a Griqualand West farm, Bultfontein, far from the nearest river. Diggers rushed to the farm and soon established ‘dry’ diggings there.
A mining operation in which diamonds were extracted from weathered ground.
The locality or mining camp associated with such a mining operation.
Derivatives:
Hence dry dig intransitive verb ?nonce, to extract diamonds from weathered material.
1968 J.T. McNish Rd to El Dorado 200His first attempt, late in 1869, at what was to become known as ‘dry digging’ as against ‘river digging’ was where the Du Toits Pan and Bultfontein diggings later emerged.

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