Rappelling in Rosendale

Last weekend, we changed plans to go back to Rosendale, our old stomping grounds. Rosendale NY features some of the most impressive mine workings in the north eastern US, with the town being a major producer of Rosendale cement. Rosendale cement preceded Portland cement as a very strong and dependable cement, with millions of tons of limestone being mined from the area during the 19th and 20th century. What remains are very large room and pillar workings, one of those being almost completely vertical.

We had discovered this mine over a year ago, but at that time none of us had the stronger rapelling and ascension skillset needed to tackle this mine. Fortunately, Chris and Bob had been honing their skills, with Chris practicing the techniques in various different locations. Bob on the other hand went the official route, being trained none other than by Search and Rescue personnel. As of this writing, Bob is an official member of Search and Rescue, and also a certified Emergency Medical Technician.

So the day came to fully explore what is left of this mine using our new skillset. Bob went first, after rigging his gear across multiple tree’s.

His descent was perfectly executed as you can see by this video:

Next up was Chris

Once at the bottom they found an easier way for the rest of the group to walk into the mine.

Exploring the inside of this mine really gave us a sense of all the hard work and skill involved in mining. The walls were perfectly pitched and even, the pillars immense and strong.

Tom stands on a pillar overlooking the northern part of the mine

Further into the mine, we found an underground section, and another parallel vein.

Aside from a very tense and scary  moment I had stuck on a ledge, the mine visit was very impressive.

Underground Workings in Rosendale

The Hanging wall featured a large crack running over 100 feet in length.

Underground Wonders

ABM Goes to the Dark Side

Surprise, surprise. About two years ago we were at our favorite cement mine.  Afterward we decided to search some promising mine leads in a nearby town.  After climbing a steep hill to a rocky valley that had a recent rock fall, we decided leave that area and followed a trail along the hillside.  And there it was.  It looked like a mine from the outside, but taking a few steps in it was clearly not mined.  Here is a short video of Bob, Dan and Tom going over to the dark side.  Cool.

Redbridge Mine Adventure Part 2 (and the Ellenville Mine Skeleton)

Continued from Part 1 located here:http://www.abmcrew.com/index.php/redbridge-mine-adventure-part-1/

Bob was very cold at this point but the adrenaline and excitement somehow subdued any longing for warmth. We donned our gear and proceeded to go in, with Bob in the lead. At this point we were extremely excited to find a 150 year old mine still accessible deep in the woods. A tunnel in fact, one drilled by hand and chisel and good old gun powder. The water inside the mine was knee deep, bob proceeded firtst..

Bob Enters the Adit

We had at this point no idea how deep the mine was. The literature never indicated the depth, it could had been 200 feet deep or over 500 feet deep. There are more than a few 500 foot old mine tunnels penetrating the Shawangunks, and the chance of finding this one undisturbed and still accessible in the woods was very fascinating.

Bob proceeded in with me standing outside the entrance. Abouit 175 feet in the mine hooked 90 degrees to the right, it was at that point that Bob stopped abruptly. He yelled back something about a bear, which was one of our fears walking into mines, we didnt know what may be living in there. After a few tense moments he said something to the effect of “No its not a bear, but what is it” and proceeded to go out of view. At this point Bob came back outside and told me about a mass of black that he saw where the mine hooked over to the right. He also kinda looked down and said he didnt know if it was a body! That created a wave of strange emotions I had never had before.

At that point we both decided to go back in again and see this up close for ourselves. If it wasnt a body, it wouldnt be the first found in a mine in the Shawangunks, in the late 1800′s the Ellensville mine was reopened for operations, with a corpse of a local bar patron who dissapeared years before found at the back of the mine (NY Times article attached)Ellenville Mine Skeleton

Red Bridge Mine Tunnel

Me and Bob proceeded to turn the corner and yes indeed there was what looked like a large jacket or sleeping bad on the floor. There also looked to be a bone sticking out of it. We didnt touch it, but looked at it very closely and realized after a good minute, its not a body, someone was actually sleeping in the mine at one time.

At this point we looked around the tiny stope area, tried to find the copper vein, and then headed back out and down the mountain. The ride home was a good thawing out and the memories will always put a smile on my face.  – Dan

Red Bridge Stope with "dead body"

Redbridge Mine Adventure Part 1

The adventure that was Red Bridge.  This is how determination and ambition can sometimes cause pain.

Bob and I had read about the red Bridge Mine from old books. Worked in the 1840′s, the descriptions mentioned various tunnels, shafts, and even the story of a woodsman who killed his son and caved in the mine entrance over 130 years ago. We were really eager to find this mine, however unlike many other mines, we didnt have exact locations on this map.

I was plotting this mine out for months and months, based on various descriptions, I had finally came to a conclusion that it must be off of a particular road. All mines had roads going to them and this road in particular was called Old <blank> road.

The day came, January 5th, 2008. Bob and I suited up,  it was the heart of winter, but out in New Jersey, there was no snow, and the temperature was just below freezing. Upon taking the long drive up due north into the Shawangunk Mountain Range, to our surprise we started to observe more and more snow cover. Upon reaching our road, we realized it was over a foot deep and straight up the mountain.

Bob and I discussed and this was supposed to be a reconnaissance mission. We decided to travel lite, and find the mine, and then if it was worthwhile we would come back. We walked up the mountain road, zig zagging up the shawangunks, our footprints were the only ones there. And here comes blunder #1. After walking about a mile, we started to wonder if we really were on the right track. We decided to go back to the car, and look at the map one more time.  We did that then realized, oh we needed to walk more, so we want back up there walked and walked perhaps 2.5 miles. Just when we were coming upon a ravine, Bob said “ohh look at that it looks like a tunnel” and laughed it off. I continued however to eyeball it, then we both realized, it IS a tunnel! we droped into the ravine and excitement filled our dead limbs and we ran up to the mine. It was indeed an old tunnel mostly filled with water.

So now we had found what we were loooking for, but unfortunately, we did not carry our gear, such as camera, waders, to walk in ICY water *hint etc. So with my new rush of enthusiasm, I agreed to go back down to the car, and back up again with our gear. Bob stayed at the mine.

After a walk of death, which took at least an hour, I arrived back seeing smoke near the mine. Bob had gotten his pants wet, and was freezing his biscuits off. He had started to light a fire to combat the temperatures which were now in the low teens.

We donned our gear, and proceeded to enter the mine. Stay Tuned for Part 2 of this story.. It gets better!

Dan at the Redbridge Mine

Redbridge Mine

Redbridge Mine

Nevada Explorations

From a recent trip i took to Nevada!

1/3/11 – Sultan Mine, Goodsprings, NV

I met up with Joanne at about 10am and followed down I-15 south. After 20 miles, we turned off on a road and quickly turned off onto a dirt road. After 30 minutes of offroading, we approached the mine. Tailings could be see all over the mountain range.

The Sultan mine has 4 or 5 levels, and the minerals worked were lead and zinc. I could not see any veins, so I assume the minerals were dispersed in the host rock.

After following numerous drifts to the end (and seeing many many ore chutes) we approached the slope. At first, i thought, holy crap, this is deep. I then devised the plan: tie off to two solid anchors and climb the ladder down that paralled the slope rails. This way, if the ladder broke, we would be safely on rope. To give you an idea, even with my powerful light, the bottom could not be seen.

i went first, checking the air meter and carefully climbing and rappelling down. I discovered three levels accessed by the slope. Ore was hauled out each level and dumped into chutes. The chutes had handles (“made in san francisco” cast into the iron) which would then dump the ore into the slope cars to be taken out of the mine.

Each level had numerous tunnels, all tracked, with ore chutes all over. Some sights included blasting cap containers, carbide containers, oil cans, fuse, and numerous broken dynamite boxes. After exploring for 4-5 hours, we climbed the rickety ladder to the top, noticing how it was barely attached, using ascenders for safety. It was scary that at the bottom of the slope, even screaming at the top of my lungs, i could barely be heard at the top. We hiked out, taking some beautiful photos of the valley and the tipple/hopper before making our way back to the jeep.

1/4/11 – Accident Mine – Goodsprings, NV

This mine was way up on the opposite side of the mountain range of the Sultan mine. The ore mined here was also zinc and lead. In this mine, the vein appeared to be sandstone with layers and pockets of lead/zinc. I have some nice samples to show the group, including a 5 pound chuck of lead.

Upon arriving, I knew this mine would be a challenge to get to. Joanne mentioned that she found the old miners trail to get to the mine, which was much easier than going straight up the side of the mountain. The mine consists of a main winding slope and numerous chutes, with three tracked drifts off the main slope. The slope was not steep, and was easily walkable. Ore was mined, then dumped into slope cars which were hauled out by a winch, which is still there in an extremely well preserved state. We spent about 4-5 hours again in this mine, following every drift to the end.

Due to the mine being at such high elevation, it was necessary for the ore to be lowered down to the bottom of the mountain via elevated tram! The ore carts were hoisted to the top of the slope, and then either by gravity or animal power, dragged and then dumped into a hopper/tipple. From there, some kind of bucket was filled and taken down by cable, as the huge 1″ thick cable still is there in perfect condition! Also notable about this mine (and I assume all western mines) is the presence of old rusty equipment and cans outside. The lack of rainfall allows all the trash to be preserved, so one can see what the miners were using and eating.

It was an exciting trip, I met a new friend and was able to explore two relatively large, well preserved mines. I can’t wait for my next trip out to Las Vegas to explore more mines!

Please visit the following abandonedmines.net links to view all the photos!

Accident Mine

Sultan Mine

Photographing Fish

The fellow behind me in the line at the Costco photo department noticed the PA coal mining pictures I was reviewing.  “Looks like quite an adventure” he said.  Yes it was.  This led to my explaining about ABM and what we do.  I usually mention that our trips are 80% hiking to search for mines, 10% in a mine and 10% eating.  Not including hours on the road.  One Pennsylvania trip was particularly rememberable.  Dan had spotted some interesting mine locations on a map.  We met mid-morning at a Subway to plan the hikes and get a bite.  Our first hike was done in reverse; we started at the top, fanned out and searched down the “hill”. It was steep and covered in dense rhododendrons which were good for holding onto so as not to tumble down. No mines were found.

We then made two hikes along a canal trail with forages up the mountainside to suspected mine locations.  It was summer, mid-afternoon, hot and sunny.  Many people were on the trail.  We were envious of the frequent tubers coming down the river.  Dan the photographer was carrying his gear which included a big light called Thor.   It’s large, heavy and very conspicuous.  The lens on Thor is probably 10+ inches across.  So there we were walking along the canal when a passing lady says to Dan, “Why do you have that big light?”  Dan didn’t pause for a moment and said “We like to photograph fish, and we don’t want shadows”.  She accept the explanation and continued on her way. We never did find any mines, or see any fish.  Dan has since replaced Thor with a 3500 lumen HID flashlight that hides away nicely in a pack.

Tight Squeeze and false floor!

A few days ago Dan and myself followed up on a tip from Mike one of our underground members on an opening he found while exploring the woods in Northwest NJ.  Sure enough from his directions we found the opening to an iron mine.  At ABM we have certain safety rules that we follow ALL the time. On this day it paid off.

Once we slid inside the opening, 3 feet of water greeted us. The mine went in about 20 feet and made a sharp right. Our policy when we go into wet mines is that the point guy is always looking down into the water to search for hidden sharp objects an floor integrity.  We also go in real slow so as not to churn up the silt on the bottom.  As we approached the bend we noticed a winze along the right wall under the water. (A winze is an opening in the floor that leads to a lower level).  Usually we just avoid it and walk around them.  This mine though had a surprise for us.  Taking a little more time to study the floor we noticed that there was really a wooden floor over the whole width of the area in front of us.  The opening on the side was where planks were but were missing. Silt had covered the wood hiding it from view. We really had to scrutinize the floor to see this trap. If we didn’t follow our safety protocols, we could have easily walked on this old rotted flooring and fell into the shaft. Falling into a water filled shaft with waders on in 55 degree water would not make our day!  We have been in mines that go on for miles, this mine was was no more that 30 feet long.  Seemed like a no brainer.  But it held a hidden danger.

Lesson- Never let your guard down, even for a mine that seems  mundane. Once you start to feel invincible and cut corners, that is when fate comes out and bites you.

Tight Squeeze

ABM Fun at Buttermilk Falls..

Buttermilk falls is an incredible mine we stumbled upon by a lead that Ed had in the NY State Geological dept. We heard it was under a waterfall, but didnt imagine it as beautiful as it was. On most days in the wet spring, you will never be able to see the mine behind the torrent, but on a summer drought, a good splash is welcomed. Please visit HERE for the full gallery on AbandonedMines.org

During one of the subsequent visits, Bob accidently sliced open his hand. It just happens, fortunately he is an EMT. This cut he told us was non life threatening :)

Buttermilk Falls Mine - Miners

Buttermilk Falls Mine - Miners

ButterMilk Bob and Frank

ButterMilk Bob and Frank

Inside Out - Buttermilk Mine

Inside Out - Buttermilk Mine

Buttermilk Falls Mine - After the Storm

Buttermilk Falls Mine - After the Storm

Bob gets cut

Bob gets cut

What could this be? Canistear Mine…

I have been going to the Canistear Mine in Vernon for a few years, it was one of the first mines I went too. The highlight of the mine is that one of the shafts has an International Harvester truck inside of it.  A few years ago back in 2006 I also fond another neat thing. Some kind of fireplace looking setup. As far as I know there was no roasting of ore at this mine, so I am baffled at what it could be. its located right over one of the shafts. Take a look for yourself and leave comments on your ideas:

Canistear Mine Shaft

Canistear Mine Shaft

Canistear Mine | International Harvester

Canistear Mine | International Harvester

Canistear Mine Oven

Canistear Mine Oven

Canistear Mine Oven

Canistear Mine Oven

Wacky Living things…

After a mine is abandoned, its pretty clear that nature overtakes and begins to spawn life all around. Here’s 2 photos I took of some interesting creatures living in or near an old mine.

Snake eating dinner..

Snake eating dinner..

Large Millipedes

Large Millipedes

Mini Toads

Mini ToadsSnake eating dinner..

Drake Mine Adit in Mount Olive

A little known mine with a collapsed adit in Mount Olive NJ. The Drake Mine was a small Iron Mine I traveled solo to this mine back in Dec 2005 to find it. Its right behind some homes in Mount Olive NJ. The adit was over 700 feet long and cut across 5 ore veins according to the Geological report. the adit was still leaking water.

Drake Mine Panoramic Shot | Mount Olive NJ

Drake Mine Panoramic Shot | Mount Olive NJ

Drake Mine Panoramic Shot 2

Drake Mine Panoramic Shot 2

Drake Mine Adit | Mount Olive NJ
Drake Mine Adit | Mount Olive NJ

Miner Bob outside the Sunray Mine | 03-31-2007

This is Miner Bob 3 years ago at the the old mine called the Sunray Tunnel, a 500 foot tunnel that penetrates the shawangunk mountains. It was at that point one of the deepest mines we knew of. The mine was later used in the 70′s as a spring for some of the purest waters in the world. I sampled the spring water coming out at the back of the mine, and indeed it was cold and crisp.

Miner Bob at Sunray | 2007

Miner Bob at Sunray | 2007

Beach Glen Mine Historical Shots

Great historical shots of the Beach Glen Mine, a large iron mine from the turn of the century, located in Rockaway NJ

Miners at the main hoist of the Beach Glen Mine

Miners at the main hoist of the Beach Glen Mine

Surface Plant at Beach Glen Mine NJ

Surface Plant at Beach Glen Mine NJ

Chris Rappelling in Coal Mine | Dec 2010

Illuminated Brick Tunnel

This short tunnel is located in the vicinity of the Cement Mines of New York.