Abandoned mines in the Timiskaming District in Ontario, Canada
The Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines publishes the Abandoned Mine Inventory System for Ontario. There are over 7,000 entries and about 800 for the District of Cobalt alone. The township of Coleman just south of Cobalt lists over 150 mines. With these numbers in mind, how difficult can it be to find an abandoned mine?
Hound Chute Plant
We spent some good time to find signs of the past. During the research, we found the Cobalt Mining Legacy document which includes a vivid description of the Hound Chute Plant. This plant produced compressed air for the mines.
Off we went to the Hound Chute Generating Station and found that the area was fenced in by the Ontario Power Generation.
The old plant was nowhere to be seen nor could we find any indication of its existence, except the pipes that supplied the compressed air to the mines.
Along the road to the Generating Station, we noticed a rusty pipe on the side of the road. Only a few meters were clearly visible, but that was enough to get us curious. We searched the vicinity and found more of the historic compressed air pipe.
We considered this a 'abandoned mine success'. Next time we bring our canoe and we will search for the remains of the plant from the other side of the river.
8 kilometers west of Elk Lake on hwy 560 is a service road to the north. The road leads to the Silverclaim Lake at these coordinates: 47.723750, -80.435386 .
Several abandoned mines should be around there. Obviously there was no road maintenance done. At least there were no fallen trees in our way.
|Dashcam footoage to the Silverclaim Lake. The video is 5 minutes 21 seconds.|
One of the usually obvious signs of mining are the rock piles, called tailings. That does not mean there is a mine entrance visible. Some of them are closed by filling the entrance with the rocks. There is no other way, you have to get out of the car and start looking.
It was a rainy day. I never had to use the mosquito netting over my head during the vacation. Here I did. Ursula chose to stay in the Jeep. She was also the dedicated driver, that is another good reason to stay in the Jeep
According to the Mine Inventory System, this is not the only mine in the Silverclaim Lake area. We have to do more research to figure out the exact history for this mine.
The entrance is flooded. After three steps into the water, I reached the depth that my rubber boots could handle.
Another 'abandoned mine success', we got our pictures.
Mine on Professor Pond
We found this mine by chance. The trail width to get there was good for ATVs and a snug fit for the Jeep. We didn't see the mine entrance until we actually pulled up the ramp. The metal tracks that extended outside the mine gave it away. There were no other signs of mining there, like piles of rocks or collapsed buildings or foundations.
The mine is at these coordinates: 47.35590,-79.67438
|Dashcam footoage to the mine entrance. The video is 4 minutes 15 seconds.|
This is likely the most intriguing mine we found. How can an open gate into a dark tunnel, that was not maintained for the last 80 years or so not tempt ones sense of exploration. We were going through our checklist to enter the mine and forgot to bring the canary. Too bad, next time.
For the records, the gate was open when we arrived.
One more 'abandoned mine success'.
Signs of mining
Not all searches end with a success. We did have to turn around after we found trees and nothing else. Some of the places are from more recent activities and the only work done was taking core samples.
Sometimes it is just a fenced off area, No indication what work was done.
This was a large area with collapsed buildings and foundations. Lots of rock piles (tailings) and a small area was fenced off. No sign of a shaft, but some water runoff just below. This was for sure no drinking water. Many abandoned mines leak toxic water. Arsenic is a naturally occurring element associated with gold and silver mining. The rain and ground water washes this and other toxic elements out of the mines. When you see a green or blue mossy rock or algae, don't touch it.
You can read more about this topic in Mining in Ontario and the Government of Canada site.
The collapsed building and water tower had better days. There were multiple rock piles (tailings) all around us, but we did not investigate further. We had two rewarding finds before and didn't feel like scrambling through more rocks and bush.