returned to the mine entrance with my tripod and flashlights. I carefully lowered everything down into the hole then carefully placed my feet into it. I lay on my stomach and crawled backwards into the opening. It was about a 45 degree slope of loose gravel and sand from the hole.
I was now facing the doorway which I had been able to see from outside. There were some markings in orange spray paint, and the doorway obviously led to a mining passageway.
I ducked inside the doorway. The passage was about 5 feet in height, making it necessary for me to stoop as I moved through it.
Hunched-over to keep from hitting my head on the ceiling, I worked my way back to the end of the passageway. Looking back toward the doorway, it was maybe 120 feet.
At this end of the passageway was another doorway.
I went through the door and found myself in a new passage, one which was higher - I could stand fully upright - and which ran perpendicular to the passage I had just come from. I was presented with some choices. Directly in front of me wasn't much of a choice; it was the remains of a collapsed shaft, with rocks and sand completely filling it.
Sitting in this little alcove were two, inexplicable concrete wheels leaned against the wall and the remains of a third, broken on the floor.
To my left, the passage continued around a curve and disappeared out of sight.
To my right, there was more evidence of a cave-in, but there was an opening near the top of the debris.
I decided to leave the easy way to my left for later and climbed up to the opening on my right. I poked my head into the hole to get a look. There was a collection of wooden beams and flooring just inside, giving the appearance that there might be a sub-level below.
Off to the right, a passage continued into the darkness. The following photo was the best shot I could get of it, straining as I was through this hole to get the camera into the center of the passage.
With some effort, I'm sure I could've cleared enough debris to enter this passage, but time wasn't on my side after all that I had spent looking for the bigger mine earlier. There are actually two other passages which we'll see shortly that give promise for exploration, although one of them would be extremely difficult. There's also a hint that there might be much, much more to this mine but that a lot of it is probably no longer accessible.
I returned back down to the main passage and followed it around the bend to see where it led. It began to take-on the appearance of "classic" mine, with wooden support beams for the walls and ceilings.
There were a couple of diversions along the main path. One was another passageway which was blocked by rubble, either from a collapse or as an intentional barrier.
There was enough of an opening to shine a light into, and I was able to prop the camera on the beams for a long exposure. It revealed another long shaft fading around a bend.
Like the other blocked passage, it wouldn't be too much trouble to clear enough of the debris to do some further exploring, but it wouldn't be today. There was also a mine shaft which was cut at a rather steep grade upward into the mountain. There were some pipes running out of it.
Pulling myself up into the shaft wouldn't have been terribly difficult, but the climb once inside would become arduous and possibly dangerous, a task best pursued with a partner. Nearby, was also a wooden chute which was clogged with rocks, used to remove the ore and stone from the upper levels as it was excavated.
There were also remnants of mine-cart rail which ran through here. One of the cross-beams was still in the bat guano covered floor.
The main passage came to a rather abrupt ending; at the vertical mine shaft seen from the outside in the previous entry. There's not really a good way to present this photographically in the way you encounter it, due to the tight quarters. The shaft is divided into two sections. The first section, closest to the passageway leading to it is an access shaft with wooden ladders which allow movement between levels.
I moved onto the platform in the center of the shaft and looked upward toward the entrance above. I could see the system of ladders leading all the to the top, and possibly to other levels of the mine above me.
Below me, though, the ladders were either never present or had been removed. I'm guessing they were removed because the landings were still present just as they were above me.
The shaft was constructed of wood with a system of iron bars bolted in place.
The other half of the shaft was where the lift/elevator had been used for bringing the rock and ore out of the mine. It ascended all the way to the surface, daylight streaming in through the gates placed over the hole above.
It also descended further into the earth to an uncertain depth; an unknown, watery depth.
It almost looks as if there are portions of the ladder down there, lending credence to my guess that the lower-level ladders on the other side of the shaft had been removed and then tossed into this side. It also makes me wonder how many other levels there are, above and below the water line. To have gone to all the trouble of constructing a vertical lift out of the mine, my guess is that it must be rather extensive with many, many levels. Getting to the lower levels above the water level, should they exist, would require climbing equipment. The upper levels, should they exist, could probably be accessed by climbing the ladders, but alas something I would have to save for another time.
Hopefully by the time I return , this mine will not have been sealed up, too.
I hope you've enjoyed my tour of the mines. If you'd like to see all of the photos I took that afternoon, you can find them in my online gallery.
x-posted to abandonedplaces and rural_ruin