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Into the mine
(continued from last week)

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

That is SO cool... but I'd never have the guts to do it.

Me either, I get creeped out just reading about it. What if there was a collapse? What if there are poisonous gasses? What if I tripped and broke my leg? What if a bat shit on me? What if?!

God, I am a coward.

"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."

So THIS is why you're taking me with you in the spring. :^P

Do you think you'd be brave enough to go in?

This officially seals it. You're crazy!!! That is dangerous boy! I thoroughly enjoyed the tour as I would never do anything like this and have often wondered....but you are crazy!!!!

I maintain that the risk was marginal. It was calculated risk. And we all take caluclated risks every day of varying threats to our lives. If I explored abandoned mines regularly as a hobby, and began taking more and more risks, then I'd say there was a good chance that it might get me. I liken it to Steve Irwin or even Dale Earnhart, it's when you dance with the devil all the time that your risk for dying or being hurt in an activity begins to increase dramatically.

Just reading this entry made me nervous- I'm not very good with being underground for some reason.

Did you have to climb out of the hole to leave? Doesn't seem like that would be easy to do even without all the stuff you had to bring back up with you.

Yeah I went back out through that hole. As I was coming out, I arched my back a little high and rubbed it against the top of it: pebbles and sand went all down into my pants. After I stood back up, I was doing a little dance trying to get all of it to drop out of the bottom of my pant legs. :)

You're right. This is the coolest thing ever.


Me, welfy, and our pal goingincirclez were exploring and abandoned whiskey distillery a few months ago. While we were gasping and oohing and aahhing over the place, GIC asked me if it was the neatest thing I had ever explored so far.

Of course, I had to answer no, even if at the time I didn't have the photos to prove it. Now I do. :)

This is a great set of photos and a wonderful narrative. I hope you do get to go back and poke around some more.

Wow! I'm insanely jealous of your adventure ... but I also know that if I'd been there, I wouldn't have been brave enough to go anywhere near as far in as you did.

While I'm sure it's partially due to stupidity on my part, it's unfathomable to me how you could have that right in front of you and not wander inside. If I manage to die a premature death, it will likely be due to my curiosity.


Very cool. This somehow reminded me of playing the old text-based Colossal Cave Adventure. :)

While I never played that particular game, I played many which I'm sure were just like it. The two times I've been in the mines, it did kinda remind of like, Doom or something, only there weren't any hellish creatures chasing me.

Wow, great pics and quite an adventure! The photos make it easy to forget how very dark it must have been down there, so I certainly have to envy your tenacity.

I too hope that way in is still open when you're able to return!

Yeah, I couldn't help but turn off the flashlight and sit in the complete darkness. Being underground in a subterranean enivronment is usually the only place you can truly experience the absence of light.

Thirding the comments everyone else has made about that being ballsy as hell. I'd love to explore something like that, but no way I'd do it alone!

Wonder how far that is from Vegas (where I live)..

Awsome pictures!!!! I went on a mine tour this weekend that was totally lame. We didn't even go a hundred yards outsede the elevator that took us 1,000 feet under ground. Did I mention the tour was lame.

Well, I wasn't even that far in. I was, maybe in 200-300 feet laterally from the entrance. Vertically, from the top of the elevator shaft, might've been 150-200 feet.

Very cool. But claustrophobia, WHOA.

I can get claustrophobic in extremely tight spaces, but this wasn't really much different than walking down a hallway.

Incredible photos and certainly one of those moments to remember. Why remember?... because you should never, ever do that again! Solo mine exploration ballsy as hell, but dude, what happens if you got hurt or there was a further cave in? I fully admit that I'm insane. No doubt about it. Even so, I leave detailed instructions and directions when I go solo on an expedition so people have a chance of finding me or my body.

Take someone with you if you do decide to go back. Take a sniffer of some means or portable O2 pack should you start feeling light headed (bad air). The moment you start seeing cave in's or water seepage is the time to avoid an area. It may look solid, but woah.. Wow.. it's impressive but wow..

even if you take someone with you, it wouldnt be a bad idea to leave gps coordinates with someone to call in a rescue if you don't show back up

How do you find these places? When I grow up to be a big truck like you, I'm going to see all kinds of cool places, too.

Well, in this case, I first found-out about Austin from ghosttowns.com and decided to stop there. Finding the mines, though, was just a stroke of luck and the willingness to take a chance and explore. Sometimes, nothing ever comes of these expeditions. This one, however, had quite the pay-off.

Thankyou for these, I do believe that I may have just formed an obsession with mines (architecturally wise.