Friday, July 30, 2010

Abandoned Mine Friday! - The Hidden Treasure!

Ah, what better way to run out the rest of the week than with a glimpse back at some old mine. As fledging internet geolgists it is important that you see the places where your prey (rocks) like to hide, mate, sit, lounge and otherwise await your discovery.

Now, mines aren't for everyone. And luckily, if you are one of the many who feel that entering an unstable man-made cavern held up by rotting 100+ year old rotting timbers is a bad idea, you don't need to fear. Rocks can be found on the surface just as easily as they can be found at depth. It's just that the rocks won't be quite as fresh as if you go down to the bowels of the earth and hunt them yourself. It's like picking ears of corn at the supermarket. You can get satisfactory corn from the top of the pile, make a satisfactory meal for your family, and get sent to a satisfactory nursing home when the time comes. Or, you can rifle through the piles of corn until you find the BEST ears at the bottom of the pile, and then go home and make some sort of crazy, french-sounding meal for your wife and then get it on.

And so, in an attempt to nurse you all into the rock hunting preditors that you can be, let's try to acclimate ourselves to the world of the underneath. A land where minerals grow like carrots, and carrots grow like regular carrots. Now, the first rule of mine club is that you don't ever go into a mine. This may seem to be a bit contradictory to a 1st time reader, but as gnarled, hairy veterans of this blog we know that geology is nothing but one contradiction after another. Mines are very dangerous. They collapse, they have holes, they probably contain wolfmen, and sometimes people go in and never come back out. I don't know what happens to them. It's like this one time where I went into the wrong theater after using the bathroom at the movies. Plus I think it may be illegal.

That being said, sometimes old mines are kinda cool. You shouldn't go in them, but if you do, make sure you have all the proper permission. Also tell someone where you are going to they know where to find your body. Ha! No, that's just a little mine humor there (but seriously, make sure someone knows where to find your body). If you manage to clear all the red tape and get into a mine, then brace yourself for a world unlike anything you have ever seen. Cus it's really dark.

The mine for today is the Hidden Treasure Mine. If you read the proceeding post about Jacob City (as I assume you have), then you already know where this mine is located. It was discovered in 1865 or so (I haven't actually read the proceeding post) and for years it was a huge producer in the area. Here's a picture of it, just in case you are too lazy to scroll down a few inches to the previous post.

The ore coming out of the mine was largely a silver-bearing galena, as well as a soon to be covered mineral named sphalerite. The mine followed thick veins of the stuff to a depth of 2,500 feet where it met up with other mines down in Ophir. Mining ended at some point in the 1960's, and the mine sat idle until 1989, when a boy scout got lost in there. They found him, but decided that the mine needed to be sealed up for all time. And so it was...

Now, this is a problem. We can't get into sealed mines! There's all this damn concrete in the way! Taking samples of concrete is an unfulfilling way to spend an afternoon, so we will need to find another way in. Lucky for you, I have connections to an "underground organization". (GREATEST JOKE YOU HAVE EVER READ!) Look, here's another way!

Learning to negotiate rusty ladders is an essential part of your training, and I recommend the following procedure....

After having completed steps 1 through 3, place the ladder up against a tree and climb it a few times. Try to get used to the feeling of uncertainty that such an activity invokes. Embrace it like a feral lover!
Down we go! Further and further into the dark abyss that is the bosom of the earth!

The main workings of the mine took place along an inclined shaft (that's what she said) that was used to carry the ore carts to the surface. Well, there's not a lot left of the ore carts or the tracks, but we can still walk down the incline!

Look out!

Here's a good place to stop and learn about one of the many dangers that lurk in the bleak universe of the underground. A cave in. Cave-ins are a cowardly foe, choosing to ambush the unwary internet geologist instead of putting up a fair fight. You can avoid them by looking for the signs that a cave-in is present or nearby. Do you see fresh feces? Unless they are in your pants, this is not a sign of a cave-in. Do you see a large pile of rotten timbers and blocks of rocks? This is a trusty sign that a cave-in is possibly waiting for you ahead and you should practice extreme caution.

Why, look here! It's one of the friendly residents of the mine!

This boiler once held the sweet sweet energy that kept this mine moving. At least I think it did. It may have also once held lunchboxes for all I know. Leave me alone. What's important is that it is not actively trying to kill us.

And if you needed further proof that not everything in the mine has crushing you in its plans, here's another frequent visitor to the area.

That is a rusted bucket. Forgotten by its owners, now it sits and holds nothing but the echos of a forgotten age. Also moss.
Now, not everything you meet down here is going to be some inanimate object that we have arbitrarily decided to give life to. No, there's plenty of the good ol' fashioned REAL living things down here. Look! Some sort of crazy white mildew growing on the beams!

This material may or may not actively be trying to kill you. It's hard to tell with mildew. I mean, it's not attacking you, but it may be filling your lungs with mind altering spores. In the end, I think that's one of the better ways to go.

Look, we've reached our stop! Here we are at Carbide Junction!

As a bit of a fun fact for all of us, Carbide is a form of ultra hard steel that you can put on the end of your drill bits to help them get through the tough rocks. Ah, edufunual! Anyway, from here we can explore one of the many terrifying tunnels that branch off from our only way home. Now would be a good time to remember the blog motto: SPEED STRENGTH AGILITY! Go ahead and say that over and over a couple of times to work up some bravery. You pansy.

Let's walk along and see what we can see....

Hmmm...lots of pictures of tunnels. As I've said before, mines love tunnels. Tunnels are the liver of the mine. Ore carts are the knees, and rusted buckets are the kidneys. Don't feel bad if you didn't know this. You'll catch on soon. Why look! It's a message from the past!

This would be a message that would by and large be good to obey, but I suspect that we are ok in passing just this once. If you are ever in a mine and find a good bunch of dynamite, go ahead and leave it there. Dynamite is the liver of the mine. Look at this!!!

This is called a Stope. You really want to make sure no one ever finds your body? Just fall in one of these fellas. It's where the miners just went nuts on the ore body and dug out a huge cavern! Sometimes the ore doesn't follow straight lines, and you have to chase it a little bit. This results in huge open areas that are hard to photograph. Cave-ins like to live in here, so let's be on our way.

We've seen only a fraction of the wonders that a mine can hold, but if you remember we had to walk down a fairly steep inclined shaft to get here. The problem is that we must now climb back out. Gravity is the liver of a mine. Here it is sadly going to be working against us. Pulling us down....down.....down into the bleak dispair of the ever cooling crust of this miserable planet. So unload everything cool from your backpacks that you have collected, because this is going to be a right old pain in the butt to get out of. Go ahead and forget a bunch of stuff too. Anything to lighten your load.

*1 hour straight of swear words*

Don't be afraid to swear in a mine. First off, no one can hear you except for the large number of mythical creatures who call this place home, such as the Tommy Knocker...

Or, my version....

My version just looks like a mischevious WWI British General. So let's go with the top version.
Also there is the the mold, who is already going to town on your nervous system. Second, the more air you get out of your lungs, the less you have to carry back up the shaft with you.

And so we are out. I didn't take any pictures of the leaving part because I was too busy trying to keep the air out of my lungs through the afore-mentioned technique. I think we have all learned that the underworld is not such a bad place. We also learned that sometimes you can work really REALLY hard and not get a single mineral. Geology can be like that sometimes.


Cheetah said...

Here's a thing. Carbide is actually the chemical fuel that was used in the miners headlamps. I was way off earlier. Heh.

Cheetah said...
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