It's chapter 14 of Bearstone, and Walter and Cloyd have just rocked up at an old disused goldmine. Once upon a time, this used to belong to Walter. He calls it “The Pride of the West” even though it's abundantly clear that it's seen better days.
Nevertheless, Walter is insistent that he and Cloyd will soon be mining for gold once more. All they have to do is remove the dirt that's blocking up the entrance to the mineshaft and then go inside and drill holes into the hard rock. Once this has been done, dynamite can be placed in the holes and then blasted.
Walter tells Cloyd that they're going to have to drill the rock in the old-fashioned way, with one of them holding the bit while the other pounds away with a sledgehammer. As one can imagine, this involves incredibly hard work, certainly a lot more work than would be involved using machine drills.
Even so, any kind of drilling is hard work. In addition, it's also dangerous, as Walter tells Cloyd. To drive home the point, he tells Cloyd about the time when a couple of guys had a very serious accident when they were drilling into a rock face twenty-five feet high.
They were drilling in the old-fashioned way, with one of them holding the bit while the other used a sledgehammer. And yet, despite the obvious dangers, this is exactly the method of drilling that Walters intends for himself and Cloyd to use.