In Reply to: Yanking my chain posted by David FG on April 10, 2010 at 09:28:
: : : Yank or Yanking my chain. I heard just the other day on the History Channel someone discribing the origin of this phrase being the gold mines in places like Colorado. When a miner would use the "toilet" (one of the mining wagons on the rails but with a wooden top on it and a hole) he would place a chain under the wheel of the rail car because his fellow miners might play a prank on him and push him down the rail way while he was using the toilet. So the miner who was trying to relieve himself would declare "don't yank my chain". Any truth to this? I wonder if rattling someone's cage has to do with mining also?
: : It seems that 'museum guide syndrome' has made its way to the broadcast media.
: : Surely the origins are fairly straightforward: if you yank on the chain of a tethered dog you are likely to annoy it.
: : Similarly, if you rattle the bars of a cage, the animal therein might well react aggressively.
: : DFG
: A further thought occurs to me. I am a long way from being an expert on matters mining, but it strikes me that having efficient brakes on any wagon or whatever would be considered pretty much essential. To have out of control rolling stock hurtling around underground would surely be colossally dangerous.
: I can't imagine any situation in which such cars would be held stationary by sticking a bit of chain under a wheel.
: And why would a miner be carrying a length of chain big enough, strong enough, and thus heavy enough to hold a wagon in place, around with him?
I saw that show, based on a pretty interesting book called How the States Got Their Shapes, and I thought that bit about "yank my chain" would probably end up here!