I was a member of a group that went on outdoor adventures. We backpacked in the Grand Canyon and Sierra Mountains, went on rafting trips, and hiked. My involvement with Abandoned Miners is a return to adventuring, and the exploration of newfound interests in mines and things underground. While underground the world above disappears, you are living in the moment, taking it all in, focused.
My first mining experience was at the Grand Canyon. We descended from the South Rim on the Grandview Trail, and on the way out, stayed on Horseshoe Mesa where we found a mine. Later I learned it was a copper mine named Last Chance. Wow! We went in as far as we could go and it was so dark and quite. There were ladders to lower levels, but we only dared to peer down. The next day on descent to a spring at the base of the mesa, I found a lower entrance that had rails, hand tools, and air ducting. I remember the mines more than the hiking.
In the fall of 2008 I found the abandonedmines.net website. Again, wow! I followed the group online, and then met several of the group at a book presentation by member Dave. Early the next year I met Bob and Dan at a presentation they gave on the abandoned mines of New York and New Jersey. We clicked well enough for them to invite me to join a trip to the Washington Mine in New York. Wading through the water in the mine, with my modified bicycle light as a headlamp, I was hooked. To know you are in a tunnel, often hand drilled, blasted and cleared by men whose light was equivalent to that of a candle is amazing.
The iron and other metals and minerals that fueled the needs of the early nation and the birth of the industrial age, first came from the mines of the Northeast, NY and NJ. At one time over 500 miners worked the barite mines of Cheshire CT, of which nothing remains today. Iron mines abound just east and west of the Hudson River. And a bit north is Rosendale NY, center of the natural cement region. Rosendale cement was used to build one of the wings of the United States Capital. Before joining the group I had no idea there were so many mines in the area, their importance, and that you could actually go into them!
ABM is an awesome group of diverse individuals who have their own interesting experiences, knowledge, and skills. We can have just as much fun in the search for mines as exploring them. One day we have hiked ten miles looking for mines in the hills of Pennsylvania. Mine exploring is an adventure I truly enjoy. Going into the ground is certainly not for everyone, evidenced by the comments some people make when I tell them about what we do. I don’t understand why going underground does not scare me. In the beginning it was a test of nerve and flirting with danger. Now I look forward to it. I can see things few others see firsthand. In a mine, you can image the miners were once busily going about their difficult, dangerous and unappreciated work. Right where you stand.