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As It Was: Miner Treats Snakebite with Poultice of Eggs and Salt

Miners in the mountains of Oregon faced many hazards, including dreaded rattlesnake bites.  Often far from a doctor, the miners came up with their own treatment.

A 1917 edition of the Rogue River Courier newspaper reported a 2 1/2 -foot rattler struck W. B. Copley in July while working at a mine near Glendale.  The snake’s fangs went through his thick work pants, causing blood to rush down his leg into his shoe. 

All alone and several miles from the nearest neighbor, Copley said he had to resort to a treatment known to mountaineers in the area.  Fortunately, he had the ingredients, eggs and salt, so he beat an egg and added enough salt to make a thick poultice, and placed it on his wounded leg until the poultice turned green after about 20 minutes.

Copley said he mixed another poultice and held it on his wound until it also turned green.  A third poultice reportedly showed less green and a fourth just a few green streaks.  To complete the treatment, Copley soaked a cloth in turpentine, then bound it tightly around his wounded leg. 

The paper reported Copley recovered with no ill effects.

Source: "Miner Treats Bite of a Rattlesnake." Rogue River Courier, Daily Edition, 8 Aug. 1917 [Grants Pass OR], p. 1. Historic Oregon Newspapers, oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn96088180/1917-08-05/ed-1/seq-1/#date1=01%2F01%2F1846&city=&date2=12%2F31%2F2018&searchType=advanced&language=&sequence=0&lccn=sn96088180&index=16&words=snake&prox. Accessed 20 Feb. 2019.

Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.