Silver Centre Ghost Town
Round trip from Cobalt in Ontario, Canda via hwy 567 to Silver Centre and back on Silverfields Road
|GPS Coordinates are 47.20008, -79.507319.
Link on Google Maps
Silver Centre is about 35 km south of Cobalt, Ontario. We were looking for the place twice without success. It's not really hidden, just off the beaten path. In June this year, we missed a right turn in the forest where there are no real roads. The year before, we didn't feel like driving through mud on Silverfields Road and turned around. At the end of this page are the links to our stories. We published several documents over the past years with more information.
|Silver Centre is Private Land surrounded by pockets of Crown Land (Policy ID: E1969) and belongs to the North Bay District. Consult the Crown Land Use Policy Atlas from the Ministry of Natural Resources for current information. Provincial Parks are regulated by a different Policy ID. Be aware, there is usually no cell phone connection.
We first read about Silver Centre when we were looking for Abandoned Mines in the Cobalt area. The area is a smorgasbord of mines, old buildings and relics. The Heritage Silver Trail in Cobalt is an excellent start to learn about the history of mining. We returned to the Finlayson Point Provincial Park to revisit some of our past trails and that included Silverfields Road and eventually Silver Centre. This is now our third attempt and we finally got lucky.
Where is Silver Centre?
Silver Centre is in the South Lorrain Township, between the Montreal River and Lake Timiskaming. The only way to get there is via Silverfiields Road or Hwy 567. The most southern point is the Matabitchuan River Conservation Reserve, just after the Lower Notch Generating Station. There is practically no access to Lake Timiskaming from the Hwy 567. The shore is mostly forest with three small villages in the northern part with likely cottages and resorts.
On earlier trips, we didn't pay much attention to the map and drove past the Silver Centre "Exit". The Trail Fork is hidden in the trees. Click the image to see the full map of the area.
The picture is from the dash cam when we drove south on Silverfields Road. North of the Trail Fork is a body of water. This is a rugged road and the conditions depend very much on the time of year and the weather.
Prepping for the trip
| Before we continue our story, we urge you to keep the trails, mine relics and places clean. We found garbage from previous visitors and packed it out. Please help preserve nature and the mining history here in Ontario and wherever you travel. Thank you.
Bring drinking water and sandwiches. Exploring the area takes a lot of time and some effort. Bring a large garbage bag and pack out what you bring. If "nature calls", DO NOT leave the toilet paper behind, pack it out. Insect repellant and sun screen is also good to have. The black flies and mosquitoes are brutal at times. Fill up the gas tank, driving in 4 LOW burns much more gasoline. Now we are ready to go.
Taking Silverfields Road
Silverfields Road starts at 47.38262, -79.68069. The driving quality worsened fast as soon as we passed the two Hydro dams. The first one is Hound Chute Generating Station, the second one is Ragged Chute. Before we got to the power generating station, we passed three mines. The first is 500 meters and the second is 900 meters in. Both points lead to Site 5: Cart Lake Tailings Lookout but from the other side. The headframe is from the Mensilvo aka Silver Summit mine. The mine produced silver.
At the same location, we found the remnants of some heavy-duty rock crushers. Amazing machinery.
The lookout for Site 5 is on the other side of the lake. We found plenty of parking there and walked across the field. We were there in August, and the field was dry. A walking trail heads south from the parking lot. We found other signs of mining when we crossed the field.
At 47.37225, -79.68392 is a headframe. The catalog shows two mines at this site. The headframe in the description suggests the Waldman or the Wyandoh which is just a few meters away. They are both silver mines. The headframe is fenced in and overgrown, but we got a good look at the structure and a peak inside through the missing wall panels. The mine closed in 1949. We drove up the short path. The surface is all tailings, that are the crushed rocks from the mine. The edges are sharp and stick up.
Starting at the 2 kilometer mark, some compressed air pipes are above ground. They lay bare for about 300 meters anywhere from the shoulder to 20 meters into the bush. The Hound Chute Plant produced compressed air for the mines back in the days.
There is a side trail at 47.35543, -79.68502, or 3.2 kilometer in. It is at the south end of Giroux Lake and leads to Professor Pond. The trail fits ATVs comfortably and the Jeep just made it through. At the end is the Professor Mine where they dug for silver.
|Dashcam footoage to the mine entrance from last year.
At kilomter 8.9 is the Hound Chute Generating Station. Impossible to miss. Somewhere here was the old Hound Chute Plant from 1910 that produced compressed air to run the drills in the Cobalt mines. We didn't find the old plant yet, we never made it that far up the Montreal River. One day we will.
At kilometer 12.4 is the Ragged Chute Generating Station. We drove the trail down to the Montreal River to go for a canoe ride. There is no swimming there, it is very close to the dam. Earlier this year, we planned to take the canoe upstream to the Hound Chute Generating Station. The water may look calm, but a little wind and the current at some narrow section gave us a workout. Along the shore are trees and in a few places, some bare rocks make it possible to stretch the legs.
The Silverfields Road turns east at kilometer 30, heading towards Silver Centre. Don't say "the road doesn't look so bad" until you hit pothole number 183 after rain. There was a reason we turned around, the holes fill up with water and some areas turned to mud.
The Trail Fork is at kilometer 33.2 and we reached the general Silver Centre site.
Taking Hwy 567
We found two trails that go to Silver Centre. The first (Trail #2 on the map) is easier on the vehicle at 47.20993, -79.49270 and the second (Trail #3 on the map) is the Jeep entrance at 47.19755, -79.48095.
Driving south on hwy 567 is eventless. Farms flank the road and changes half way down to forest. We saw a sign "Historic Site OLD MISSION" and followed the arrow. We didn't find anything historic, not even another sign. We didn't get the impression that the Lorraine Valley is overrun by tourists. We did however meet other Jeeps that may have had the same idea as we did.
Maidens Lake is accross the road from trail #3. A great place to take a break and go for a swim. The water is clear. There are a few places to park, but the shore is rocky and hard on the feet. Nevertheless, it is totally worth it.
Not much beyond the lake except the Lower Notch Generating Station and the Matabitchuan River Conservation Reserve. There is not much information on the Ontario Parks site, but the Management Statement sais that it is selected as a site representing old growth red and white pine forest communities. This is the only information that we found at the parking lot. A trail leads up to Fourbass Lake. The only dated handwritten paper was from 2013. This is likely one of the lesser travelled parks. The Fourbass lake is big, about 10 km long or more and has two sidearms. Fishing is permitted.
Trail #2 north of Maidens Lake
Trail #2 is north of Maidens Lake and the road conditions are about the same as Silverfields Road. You can take this trail and never have to use the 4 wheel drive. It's all packed gravel and dusty when it's dry. The road leads to the Trail Fork and when you follow the main road, you will exit the Lorraine Valley on the Silverfields Road.
Trail #3 - the Jeep entrance
500 meters in, make a right turn. There is private property straight ahead.
And this is where the fun starts.
|Impressions from the trail to Silver Centre. Duration: 4:16
We drive a Jeep Sahara 2013 with original suspension and tire. As soon as we made the right turn, the loose rocks and moderate steep climb justified the 4-LOW. No slipping, no flying rocks, the ride was smooth-ish.
Looking at the pictures, we are always disappointed that steep sections don't really look 'steep'. When you are there and have to walk up the hill, you know it was steep.
Our Jeep has a fair share of scratches. Driving through these sections, some bigger branches or sticks are very well hidden. The awful scratching noises are a sure sign of lots of polishing work ahead.
We found this mine on a fluke. We drove in the forest and noticed an overgrown side trail. We felt like taking a closer look. About 100 meters in, hidden to the right behind a fallen tree and small hill, we noticed an opening in the tree canvas. And there it was. The open shaft was deep and we couldn't see the bottom in the pictures we took. It was a most interesting find.
We couldn't figure out which mine this is. There are so many in this area. The GPS coordinates from the abandoned mine catalog didn't match our numbers to pinpoint them clearly. The mines around there produced Cobalt, Silver and other minerals. Click the image to see a map with mines of the area.
About 100 meters later, we saw the Orange Construction Fence along the trail. It can't be more obvious than that. The shaft collapsed and the wood was rotten. Nature took the mine entrance back, getting any closer would have been a major undertaking. After the spectacular mine just a few minutes ago, this was a lost case.
We passed other abandoned mines, actually we saw the tailings. The mines were hidden or filled with rocks. About 500 meter south of the Trail Fork we came to a large opening on an incline.
The ground was all crushed rocks from mines (tailings). Several collapsed wooden structurs all over the hill side. We found the perfect parking spot just off to the side. Time to inspect the place.
There are relics from the past. We also found core samples that are from more recent times. And unfortunately, empty cans, bottles and face masks. The sad signs of careless people. We bagged the garbage to leave it better than we found it.
We continued on the trail south towards Tooth Lake. The trail drops down to the lake. Several signs of mining activities along the way, but we didn't continue. It was almost three in the afternoon and we had a dinner date at Whiskeyjack in Haileybury.
We returned to hwy 567 and stopped for a quick swim in Maidens Lake. Exploring these places takes an effort and cooling down in the lake is the best way to get ready for the Stout and Bison Burger at Whiskeyjack.