At first it was easy, digging down a hill, but after the hill was gone it became hundreds of holes with each one digging his own square hole marked by his claim.
As those hundreds of square holes deepened things became even more complex, with each claim being mined and dug at differing speeds.
No roads into the hole meant everything had to be lowered and lifted out of the hole by rope, bucket and pulley.
Men, tools, food and water were lowered down, to work at breaking the rocks in their claims.
Rock and gravel were then hoisted back up to be crushed and sorted on the sides of the ever deepening pit.
In this image you can see the sides of the main pit starting to show, where the diamond bearing rocks ended.
At the visitors center there is a model showing the initial diggings, but somehow it doesn't do the massive scale of the hand dug operation justice.
This picture zooms out to show the context of the hand operation in relation to the final dimensions of the hole.
After the hand operation reached about 800 ft deep and became too unsafe, due to falling rocks, from the collapsing sides, is continued through mine shafts underground.
These are the final stats of the entire operation.
Other posts in this series:
The Big Hole. What is the big hole and where is it?
The Big Hole: Part of a greater whole
The Big Hole: Kimberlites, how do they form.
The Big Hole: Diamonds are a girls best friend...
The Big Hole: The other beauty in kimberlites and a wealth of information.
The Big Hole: Information capsules from the deep.
The Big Hole: Setting and Suspension - from busy.org