Posted in adventure in Ontario, Adventures, backpacking, book on caves, Buy The Book, Canada, cave digging, cave formation, Caves, Caves in Canada, caves in Ontario, Caving in Hamilton, Caving in Ontario, cool things to do in toronto, environment, Eramosa Karst, exploration, extreme sports, geography, geology, hiking, history, industrial archeology, Interesting, My Book, my life, nature, Nature/Outdoors, ontario, ontario caves, Ontario geography, Ontario Underground, Ontario's geology, photo, Photography, photos, picture of, rocks and minerals, rocks in Ontario, rockwatching, searching for caves, sinkholes, sinkholes in Ontario, sports, things to do in Toronto, Toronto, tagged caves in Canada, caving, Caving in Ontario, Documentary, exploring, geography of Ontario, Stone Church Cave, video on May 6, 2013 |
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When the railway engineers sealed Stone Church Cave they must have thought they’d done a pretty thorough job, and in reading E.D. Ongley’s 1965 BA. thesis, I had thought the same myself, however, on the off chance there might be some surface clues I visited this area with a friend (Jeff) and was immediately able to access the suspected Stone Church Cave as the retaining wall that had been built by the railway has collapsed. Ongley was entirely correct when he theorized that there might have been a buried system in the area, this thought being derived from his observation of an albino crayfish in the railway tunnel.
There is a sizable space that leads off from the railway drainage tunnel and because of blowing air from a hole nearby I suspect that there might still be a tunnel sealed behind the retaining wall on the opposite side of the tunnel as well. When I look at that wall to the right of the above picture I suspect that I can see points from where a tunnel might lead, deeper into the rock. Just because the railway blasted their own drainage route, across the natural tunnel path does not mean that where the water now leaves the rock is where the water always left the rock. There is a low lying area nearby that has been cut off from Stone Church Lake and I wonder if the old drainage route had taken the water that was sinking from the swamp, moved it underground and then either had it meet the surface in that low lying area and from there it drained down through the rubble against the wall of the hill. I noticed that there was a seam of rock about 20 wide in this hollow that was eroded back into the side of the hill. Debris covers the natural seam, but the cleft that is made suggests that the rock is easily worn or decomposed; could this be the subterranean route by which the area is drained?
A surface search revealed a shaft leading down into the natural cave near the upstream insurgence.
To see a short video of the exploration of Stone Church Cave – click here.
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Posted in accident, adventure in Ontario, Adventures, best things to do in Toronto, bizzare, book on caves, Caves, cool things to do in toronto, documentary, Education, environment, fun things to do in toronto, geography, geology, haunted places, hiking, history, industrial archeology, Life, My Book, nature, Nature/Outdoors, niagara escarpment, Niagara Glen, Niagara Gorge, Ontario geography, Ontario's geography, Ontario's geology, photo, Photography, photos, picture of, rock collecting, rockhounding, rocks and minerals, rocks in Ontario, rockwatching, strange places, things to do in Toronto, Toronto, Travel, tagged Devil's Whirlpool, Documentary, hiking, Niagara Glen, Niagara Gorge, Niagara Gorge Railway, Niagara Rapids, Niagara River on March 24, 2013 |
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The Niagara Gorge is rich in history. From the disasterous assault by American militia on Queenston Heights to the geological record in the Gorge’s rock there is no shortage of things to see and learn about.
Of particular interest to me was the story of the short and disastrous life of the Niagara Gorge Railway. It runs along the bottom of the American side, just above the river. It is said that the construction was the most costly stretch of railway ever to be blasted. And not only was the line costly in money, but there was a heavy price in human life as well.
See the documentary video on the Niagara Gorge Railway and the wrecked train that we found while hiking along the Niagara River.
Amongst the more memorable disasters for the Niagara Gorge Railway were the sewage pipe explosion beneath the tracks, where passengers were showered in raw sewage, and there was also the huge landslide that killed 9 people. As mentioned in a coment about a recent accident in the gorge, NenaSan says, “The Gorge is a beautiful but unpredictable place that needs to be both feared and respected”. true enough, several helipads are marked out beside Devil’s Whirlpool for the recovery of injured hikers and the all to frequent bodies that are fished from the river.
Pictured above is the boiler of an old train that we found while hiking in the Niagara Glen. It lies beside the Niagara River just across from the spot where the landslide wiped the Niagara Gorge Railway from existence – oddly, I suspect it might not have been the train that was used on that line.
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Posted in adventure in Ontario, backpacking, best things to do in Toronto, bizzare, Caves, cool ice formations, cool things to do in toronto, Education, environment, exploration, extreme sports, fun things to do in toronto, geography, geology, hiking, history, ice formations, industrial archeology, Interesting, nature, Nature/Outdoors, niagara escarpment, ontario, Ontario geography, Ontario Underground, Ontario's geography, Ontario's geology, photo, Photography, picture of, rocks and minerals, rocks in Ontario, rockwatching, sandstone, sports, strange places, things to do in Toronto, tunnels, underground, underground Ontario, urban exploration, water in Ontario, waterfalls, waterfalls of Ontario, What is an extreme sport, wierd, tagged cool things to do, near Toronto, Niagara escarpment, Ontario waterfall, Toronto, waterfall, waterfalls, winter hiking on March 3, 2013 |
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Some time ago I did some winter hiking near Toronto (Niagara Escarpment) and explored behind a waterfall to see how it would look with all the icicles. Needless to say it was amazing – exceeded my most hopeful expectations. Most impressive was this low rumbling sound that filled the whole cavity, it was a new dimension to my unusual Ontario based travels – sound.
Check out this video of behind an Ontario waterfall – here.
In line with the publication of my first book in 2005 (Rockwatching), in the video that I have linked to just above, I show a little bit of the local rock and the contact between the Queenston Shale and the Whirlpool Sandstone.
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Posted in adventure in Ontario, archeology, best things to do in Toronto, Caves, conspiracy, creepy places, cryptozoology, cryptozooology, crystal ball, entertainment, exploration, extreme sports, fun things to do in toronto, guelph, Hamilton, haunted places, history, industrial archeology, Interesting, kitchener, my life, ontario, Ontario geography, Ontario Underground, Ontario's geography, Ontario's geology, people, Personal, Photography, photos, picture of, sports, strange places, things to do in Toronto, underground, underground Ontario, urban exploration, What is an extreme sport, wierd, tagged Dracula, draining, exploring, Guelph, secret passage, secret tunnel, urban exploration, urban exploration near Toronto, urbex on February 17, 2013 |
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Leaving from Jeff’s house in Guelph, the three of us braved the winter evening and followed a secret tunnel to a place that is known as Dracula’s Garden. The garden is really a secret room beneath a city in Ontario. The trip there and back was exhausting. We were underground for just over 2 hours, crawling, duck walking and stooping. We waded through an old and crumbling passage that is known as the blood sluice – and at the end, a most incredible place that is decorated in soda straws and various other formations that are usually found in caves.
See video on the secret passage to Dracula’s Garden here
Jeff found a strange green marble that we called the “Dracula’s Eye” and SNAFU discovered a symbol part way along the hidden passage that was etched into the wall; I say it is for the Illuminati, but that is only wild speculation.
Most intriguing about the speleothems in Dracula’s Garden is the fact that they have formed so incredibly quickly.
Soda straws, curtains and stalactites are composed of calcite that has been leached out of the soil and rock above and re-deposited within an underground cavity. The basic process is that carbonic acid dissolves the calcite as acid laced ground-water passes through calcium rich substrate. Cool temperatures, lots of water and the presence of organic matter adds to the concentration of the acid. By the time the carbonic acid rich water reaches an underground cavity, and is is heavily laden with dissolved calcite, it gases off carbon dioxide and becomes super-saturated with calcite, thus it dumps this at the edge of a speleothem and grows it as some fantastic lacy rock pinnacle or curtain or cave pearl.
In Dracula’s Garden the speleothems have grown with amazing rapidity. Decorations like those seen here are usually thousands of years in the making, these formations are pure and white and hard and yet they could not be older than the cavity in which they’ve formed – about 100 – 160 years in age. Conditions for speleothem growth must be ideal. I had once seen a single soda straw in a sewer in Hamilton (Stairway to Paradise), but it was puffy and porous – more like tufa than the pure and well formed soda straws in this spot.
Two hours of crawling and duck-walking leaves my legs in agony today. I can barely walk and I’m sure my companions are suffering some similar pain as well – SNAFU more his knees being a problem as being the tallest he found the height most dehabilitating and he crawled more than duck-walked. In the video you can hear this strange whump, whump sound in the background, that’s him crawling in his hip waders. As it is now dark I think a little hot tub therapy might ease the pain – standing after sitting is the worst and going down steps is almost impossible (I have to go down backwards on my hands and knees).
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Posted in Adventures, archeology, bizzare, Caves, central America, cities, crocodile, culture, cultures, documentary, environment, exploration, hiking, history, industrial archeology, Interesting, Life, Mexican Documentary, Mexico, Mexico documentary, mystery, natural spring, nature, Nature/Outdoors, Photography, photos, picture of, religion, sinkholes, strange places, Travel, Tulum, tagged Mayan ruins, Mexican documentary, Mexico, Muyil, ruins on the Yucatan, Sian Ka'an, Sian ka'an Biosphere Reserve, Tulum on February 1, 2013 |
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A visit to Sian Ka’an is one of the oddest experiences that I’ve ever had. Who’d think that a day in the swamp is a day well spent? And yet the haze, the turquoise water and holes from which the lake bubbled were intriguing.
The Mayan ruin of Muyil is one of many Mayan treasures crumbling in the forest and sinking into this oddly scenic place. There is a very unique feeling to the landscape – nothing like the sterile desolation that the well traveled tourist ruins at Tulum have become. And in amongst the grass and crocodiles there is a rusting narrow gauge railway. There is also a channel that connects the lake in the middle of the swamp out to the Caribbean Sea, and a current of incredible strength flowing down this channel which was dug by slave long dead and sacrificed.
In the accompanying video on the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, we wandered amongst the pyramids and climbed to the top of one such crumbling edifice that Manuel called the castle. It was over fractured blocks that I clawed my way up to a platform way above the canopy. One misplaced handhold would have sent me bouncing back down the pyramid – a fall that I’d not survive.
I assume it was an alter that I found myself leaning on and behind me a grotto from whence I gazed across the swamp to a structure known as the Customs building. In the shadow I noticed a kneeling figure up against the wall, just a faint outline where the light caught the edges of raised plaster. It seems that the fresco must be decaying in the humidity, and the building is supposedly slowly settling into mud.
Check out this video on the Sian Ka’an - Mexican documentary, Exploring the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
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Posted in book on caves, cave conservation, cave digging, cave formation, Caves, caves in Ontario, Caving in Hamilton, Caving in Ontario, culture, cultures, environment, Eramosa Karst, exploration, geography, geology, industrial archeology, My Book, my life, Nature/Outdoors, niagara escarpment, ontario, ontario caves, Ontario geography, Ontario Underground, Ontario's geography, Ontario's geology, photo, Photography, photos, rocks and minerals, rocks in Ontario, rockwatching, searching for caves, sinkholes, sinkholes in Ontario, underground Ontario, tagged cave vandalism, Caving in Ontario, Galt, Galt Shelter caves, Grand River, shelter caves, sinkhole, vandalism on April 29, 2012 |
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As JC was in the process of studying for a test today, we could only make a short trip. Our excavation of the Tooth Tube will have to wait till next Saturday. We initially visited a place near Paris called Sinkhole Swamp and that was a bust though the place was quite beautiful. I suppose we should have known it from the start, the whole area is too thickly overlain by till. On the way back to Guelph we made a diversion to the Galt Shelter Caves as I had never seen them.
I believe I had first learned of the Galt Shelter Caves from Ongley’s Manuscript. He described them as “small”, I add to that description, “shallow nooks in the cliff along the shores of the Grand River – humble in appearance, and by the added blight of spraypaint, not worth the struggle down the cliff face and through the vicious thorn bushes”.
Some of the features were in the upper portion of a heavily fractured cliff face. We climbed a short way to access most and where for the most part pretty disappointed. There was nothing but gutted hollows – cave vandalism at its worst. Fortunately I don’t believe there were any formations to break, just the usual empty cavities of a shelter that had been worn by running water.
Two things that work against preservation of these features, firstly they are well known by local kids, and secondly, they are easily accessible as they are literally within an urban area. Can you imagine the impact of people who did this kind of thing visiting LS Cave or Rovers or the Tooth Tube or P Lake Here.
I am very selective about whom I share locations and this is why..
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Posted in abandoned, abandoned mines, abandoned mines in Ontario, adventure in Ontario, book on caves, Caves, caves in Ontario, Caving in Hamilton, Caving in Ontario, environment, exploration, history, industrial archeology, ontario, ontario caves, Ontario geography, Ontario Underground, Ontario's geography, Ontario's geology, photo, Photography, photos, picture of, rock collecting, rockhounding, rockhounding in Ontario, Rocks & Gems, rocks and minerals, rocks in Ontario, rockwatching, searching for caves, strange places, tagged abandoned mines, abandoned mines in Ontario, Grand River, gypsum mines, industrial archeology, Nith River, Paris Ontario, plaster of Paris, urban exploration on March 11, 2012 |
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An unseasonably warm day – early March found JC and I visiting Southern Ontario on a search for abandoned gypsum mines.
Where both the Grand River and the Nith River meet there is the quaint though somewhat aged town of Paris. It has the appearance of having been passed by progress, there are brick and barn board sided buildings in the downtown – somewhat neglected, but full of character. Large mills had once tapped the water power and the mining of plaster of Paris leaves a fascinating terrain of forgotten rail embankments, inexplicable hollows and gullies along the river bank, weirs and beaches where barges once loaded up the chalky material from underground and of course decayed and vine choked foundations.
I was inspired to photograph this backstreet business, ‘The Grand River Experience’ it appears that they offer canoe and kayak rental as well as tours down the river; I believe it was on their website that I had my first glimpse of a riverside gypsum mine – supposedly one of many that are around there. As you might have guessed, there is a connection between ‘plaster of Paris’ and the coincidence of this calcium sulfate material being mined from a conglomerate that underlies the area. It is said that the gypsum comes from Silurian age lenticular deposits on the south east flank of the Algonquin Arch.
Devil’s Cave is one example of a local feature where running water has dissolved away the gypsum and having washed the conglomerate out, there are small cavities lived in by a colony of beavers and decorated by spectacular white speleothems and flowstone.
Having now visited this area several times and followed apparently sure leads, both JC and I are somewhat disillusioned as to the prospects of finding open gypsum adits – though a cave is far preferred. Everything seems blocked up real well (with the exception of a single adit along the river bank downriver from the town). Crossed shovel and pick symbols on a map (available on the internet) generally leads you to a spot where you’ll find an undercut that is pretty much buried in countless tons of soil.
Having long been fascinated by industrial archeology, urban exploration and various forgotten tunnel explorations I’d like to know of where there are old gypsum mines around Paris where an interested person can visit and actually go underground?
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Posted in abandoned, abandoned mines, abandoned mines in Ontario, adventure in Ontario, Adventures, art, Caves, Education, exploration, extreme sports, humor, industrial archeology, Interesting, Life, My Book, Nature/Outdoors, News, niagara escarpment, Ontario geography, Ontario Underground, Ontario's geography, Ontario's geology, Photography, photos, picture of, rockhounding, rockhounding in Ontario, rocks and minerals, rocks in Ontario, rockwatching, searching for caves, strange places, tunnels, underground, underground Ontario, urban exploration, wierd, tagged abandoned mines, abandoned mines in Ontario, exploration, Niagara Falls, rock art, rock paintings, urb ex, urban exploration, urbex on October 19, 2011 |
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Leaded paint rock art circa 1970. Do you suppose the artist was trying to express his inner soul? will this still be here a thousand years from now and what will they surmise of primitive Ontarions?
I found this unique piece of primitive graffiti in an abandoned Mine near Niagara Falls – this at the edge of a pool of water that stretched on into cavernous darkness. All through the water there are great hand-cut wooden beams and remnants of the previous mining operation and a deflated plastic raft that had once been used to venture deeper in. From past experience this would be the best way to do it as the mud is really treacherous.
Here is another urban exploration in Niagara Falls of a slightly more daring nature.
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Posted in abandoned, abandoned mines, abandoned mines in Ontario, adventure in Ontario, Adventures, Buy The Book, Canada, Caves, crazy things, creepy places, exploration, extreme sports, geography, geology, guelph, Hamilton, hiking, history, industrial archeology, Interesting, Life, mine, My Book, my life, Nature/Outdoors, niagara escarpment, ontario, ontario caves, Ontario geography, Ontario Underground, Ontario's geography, Ontario's geology, Personal, Photography, photos, picture of, rocks and minerals, rocks in Ontario, rockwatching, sports, strange places, tunnels, underground, underground Ontario, urban exploration, tagged Abandoned Mine, abandoned mines in Ontario, exploring abandoned mines, Ontario rock, Ontario sandstone, urb ex, urban exploration, Urban exploration in Ontario on October 18, 2011 |
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As you might guess by my post I did not go to P-Lake today. I woke up At around 03:30 with a terrible headache (I always get one when the clouds are moving in and I hear we are in for a severe rainstorm tonight) and I thought – “I’m on holiday, why do I want to do this to myself.” It’s a 5 hour drive either way, lots of hacking through the bush and then I’m not even sure of where the cave is. Last time almost killed me. So instead I switched the alarm off and slept in till about 10 and then I went south for 2 hours instead of north for 5 – to the Queenstone Sandstone Mine. It was relatively easy to find and just as big and mazy as I remembered from that trip with Dan about 10 years ago. Only thing that has changes was the path to get there.
See that pillar in the middle of the room – go ahead kick it – I dare you.
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Posted in abandoned, abandoned mines, abandoned mines in Ontario, adventure in Ontario, Adventures, Bancroft, Bancroft gemboree, bats, bizzare, Buy The Book, Canada, Caves, caves in Ontario, caving, Caving in Hamilton, Caving in Ontario, collecting rocks near Bancroft, creepy places, Education, environment, exploration, extreme sports, geography, geology, guelph, Hamilton, history, industrial archeology, Interesting, mine, My Book, my life, mystery, nature, Nature/Outdoors, niagara escarpment, ontario, Ontario geography, Ontario Underground, Ontario's geography, Ontario's geology, Photography, photos, picture of, rock collecting, rockhounding, rockhounding in Ontario, Rocks & Gems, rocks and minerals, rocks in Ontario, rockwatching, searching for caves, strange places, tunnels, underground, underground Ontario, urban exploration, waterfalls, tagged abandoned mines, industrial archeology, mines in Ontario, urban exploration, Urban exploration in Ontario, urbex on September 28, 2011 |
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There’s a crevice that cuts under a cliff face. It leads to an underground lake that just goes on and on. Dan and I spent about two hours underground wandering waist deep in water. I am thinking that the mine is somewhere between 100 and 170 years old.
Back in the 1820′s and 30′s there was a serious demand for building stone in Southern Ontario; Whirlpool Sandstone was one of the most valued materials. It was extracted from a layer just above the Queenstone shale.
Near Belfountain you can see this rock at the base of Church’s Falls. See the chapter on Belfountain on page 69 of my book “Rockwatching; Adventures Above and Below Ontario” The rock that came from there was a maroon color and was used to build Queen’s Park and various buildings at University of Toronto. Down here in the more southerly areas of the escarpment the Whirlpool Sandstone seems a lot higher on the escarpment than it is further to the north. It is also more varied in color and I am told that it is possible to find azurite and malachite in chert pockets in that rock.
Anyway the construction of the Welland Canal generated a great deal of demand for building stone as did the increasing size of the urban structures around the “Golden Horseshoe.” Finally around 1900 the skyscraper came into being. The strength of the modern skyscraper comes not from its rigid outer shell but from its internal steel girder skeleton. This change in design meant that standard construction stones suddenly lost their market and materials such as Italian and Indian marbles started showing up. They formed a thin veneer as did materials like glass, labradorite and granite. they were in no way responsible for the buildings structural integrity. Sandstone had seen its day and the mines closed shortly thereafter.
Some years back year Jeff Mirza and I traveled up to Belfountain to see if we could find our way into one of these underground tunnel systems. Apparently there are several deep passages above the hairpin bend as you wind down from Belfountain into the Credit Valley. Jeff had even seen a picture of a shaft in the forest with a ladder leading down into the mines. After a day of trudging along the hillsides we came to the conclusion that the entrances had all been blasted shut. It was not the case here. The tunnels lie wide open. It was as much a historical exploration as it was a geological one. The rooms were quite low though generally very wide and initially lit by small shafts that cut up to a brambly plateau above. The vegetation was so thick that it was almost impossible to progress on the surface, nevertheless, the shafts of light on the underground lake were really picturesque.
At times high banks of rubble rose out of the water and it was necessary to slither along on our bellies. In places deeper into the mine calcite deposition had made a hard, translucent shell across the top of these banks and we had to be careful so as not to damage the profuse clusters of soda straws that were forming on the roof. The bats seemed quite perturbed by our arrival in their world and somebody was cheeping angrily from up a crack in the roof. On several occasions they fluttered by and I could just catch glimpses of their chaotic flight. I was surprised by the extent of speleothem formation in the mine. I had believed that under good conditions soda straws could grow at about an inch every hundred years though in remembrance of a winter excursion Jeff and I had done up a storm sewer in Hamilton a few years back, that one inch can be quite drastically stretched.
As we waded through the lake there were tunnels that branched off in every direction, the air seemed dead and the steam that rose from our coveralls clung to us. it made photography quite difficult.
The water was so still and clear in one spot that I was surprised by the ripples when I crawled right into a pool. We continued on along a mound that was just beneath the surface. Dan wandered off to the side into the deeper water and suddenly found himself hip high in really treacherous mud. I had a similar experience moments later and we decided that further exploration would have to be done with an air matress. Up ahead it sounded like a heavy rainstorm and I think that there must have been a spot where the water was pouring in.
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