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Shafts were usually rigid steel, made up of several parts bolted together at flanges.
Shafts were usually horizontal and overhead but occasionally were vertical and could be underground.
Occasionally gears were used between shafts to change speed rather than belts and different sized pulleys, but this seems to have been relatively uncommon.
Early versions of line shafts date back into the 18th century, but they were in widespread use in the late 19th century with industrialization.
In the earliest applications power was transmitted between pulleys using loops of rope on grooved pulleys.
This method is extremely rare today, dating mostly from the 18th century.
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Belts were often twisted 180 degrees per leg and reversed on the receiving pulley to cause the second shaft to rotate in the opposite direction.