Friday, October 18, 2013

A trip to the past, and the not so past!

 Today's trip was a rerun of sort. We headed back out the Devils Playground to find a mine we knew was there, but didn't know exactly where. We do now. As you can see, the opening is right there waiting to be explored. This mine was the modern one of the day we visited. I am guessing it was late 70's or early 80's. Why you ask? I used my powers of deduction. OK, I'm lying. There are many modern things at this mine site. There is an old trailer with a 1982 registration tag on it. 
 This is some sort of air tank for something. The hose went down into the black abyss of no return. There seems to be some sort of mine cart system. About 25 feet in, there was a set of hydraulic controls with a cable. There is also track on the ground that comes up and out of the mouth and rises up over the ground. I am thinking that they winched the cars out and then dumped them in to the carts in the foto below. 
 The ore cart above is an overhead tram type, so I am thinking that the ore cars came out and were elevated so they could dump in these cart and go down the mountain. There isn't much left of any type of tramway but I really believe this was the method of taking the ore down to the mini mill. The mini mill is really trashed but you can get the idea of what they did. Behind the building are 2 bins. One got filled by the tram and then fed the other via a conveyor belt. After that, I'm kind of at a loss to where it went, but, I do know its final destination.
 I screwed the pooch when I put the fotos on here so be patient with me. It's to big of a pain in the ass to change fotos on here so it is what it is. The final final destination is above. It is called a shaker table. It separates the heavy gold from all the other rocks and shit and you get rich, one hopes, when it is finished shaking. It is basically a large mining pan that is powered. Water flows over it and its a really neat process to watch. Especially when you see lots of yellow dust.
 Back tracking led us to the piece of equipment above. This is what is known as a crusher, a very tiny basic one. The miners would throw the ore bearing rocks into the opening, and then add some sort of heavy steel. Some used metal bars or round balls. What they used is long gone so I can't help you there. After it is loaded, it is turned on and the metal spins round and round and crushes the rocks into a powder that can be put on the shaker table. It is a very noisy process in a large scale operation. As for this one, I'm sure it made some noise but not a lot. Now, why did this site get abandoned?  I am thinking that they ran out of usable ore. Em has a busted foot so we couldn't really go to far into the mine. Someday we will return and see where the tunnel goes. Then maybe we will have our answer.
 Now for a blast to the past. This mine is located 20 miles from the above one and is a lot older. There are no clues to its age, But I am guessing it is early 20th century. This one is flat for the most part so we were able to go in a ways. It is quite interesting to go in and see the old drill holes and wax on the walls from the candles. What is even neater is turning off the flashlight and being in total darkness. I mean you can't see shit. Many people say, well I wave my hand in front of my eyes and I see something. WRONG! That is an optical illusion your brain teases you with. In total darkness, you can't see a thing. 
This last foto is us coming back out. There is another mine almost directly above this one. It too is another one to visit once the better half's foot heals. On a side note, we met the hidden cabin's owners great grandsons. They were out hiking around the mines and we chatted with them for a few. Seems there are even more mines out there I don't know about. I guess this means we have to go back and do some more exploring. We ended the day on a new road north of the playground. It took us up to Ingham pass then up to the top of the mountain. What a view! Gas was getting low so again, a return trip is needed. Anyone wanna go?  Jeep on my friends!