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Archive for the ‘rockhounding in Ontario’ Category

Bancroft Gemboree 2010

You never know what you are gonna find at the Bancroft Gemboree and for that reason it’s always an adventure that I look forward to. The 2010 event was no exception. I met some old friends – Ralph Schroetter amongst them. I was grateful for the Oregon Sun stone that he handed me. It was a gift with a lovely peachy hue.

In retrospect, I really wish that I had bought one of these old beauties. The going price was $40 a piece. This appealed to both my caving and rock and mineral interests. The Carbide lamp burns acetylene which is produced within the lamp as a result of the reaction between Carbide (C2H2) and water. With the number of old abandoned mines up in the Bancroft area and the caves in the local marble, I would not be surprised if these old carbide lamps had seen local use. Check out the pitfalls of buying a carbide lamp here.

As usual, the better faceted and collector stones were found at the lower venue, while up on top of the hill the outside vendors displayed the greatest diversity of product. Year after year it seems the same vendors pick the same locations.

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Devil’s Cave formations (Ontario)

Being a cave formed in gypsum, Devil’s cave is relatively well decorated for Ontario. Flowstone has formed in abundance and it appears to have literally blocked the route onwards.

If it were not for the cliff face having collapsed out into the river it would not be possible to enter the small cavern in which I took this picture. In the not too distant past (before the cliff collapsed) nothing any larger than a rabbit could have entered because the tunnels from the outside to the interior were too small.

The lower entrance as detailed in the rumor must have been buried in the slide, though in seeing the upper cavity, one can only wonder as to what lies beneath.

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The blogging bunker

The excitement of having my blog up and running again just got a bit much. So in explanation for some of those funky posts last night I would like to say that Monkey Jim (on my lap) and the Rockhound aka. cave dog(floor) had led me astray.

No problem Monkey Jim, your come-uppance will be later this week. The vet will be taking the knife to you and you’ll be barking an octave higher after that.

Strangely the ‘Glen Rothes’ got empty, ‘Tamdhu’ took quite a hit and by about 11:30 I was so desensitized that I even had some ‘Laphroaig’. I usually call this “La Frog”, it has an intense peaty/ iodine impression and I would not knowingly have agreed to purchase it except it was the first bottle I ever bought and now I gotta drink it (just a sip once a year until its gone and then maybe another bottle to punish unruly guests).

It is from this little corner of my house (the blogging Bunker) that I do all my caving posts and also where I have written my soon to be released book – “Tamarindo”.

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Tunnel in Ontario (Forks of the Credit)

I spend a lot of time chasing rumors looking for old abandoned tunnels, forgotten structures and caves – especially caves. Caves beat all things because there need not be an ending, they inspire awe and wonder in me and they say so much about the geology.

Anyway, as of late some friends and I have been exploring the Forks of the Credit area for possible entrances to the old sandstone mines. One of the locals told me of a nearby house beneath which they had to pump a huge amount of cement to shore up the foundations which were dug in and over hollow spaces. We saw the house and also the closed up cavities from which the concrete leaked.

You will see the local rock in this picture – or at least the layer that was so popular – a reddish sandstone that was used in the construction of several of Toronto’s older and finer buildings.

My friend (Jeff C) had heard of a starirway that led down a shaft somewhere in the forest along the edge of the valley by Belfountain. We have done a lot of looking and are still speculating as to where this shaft and ladder might be.

In searching through the woods we found this drainage tunnel – constructed of the famous Whirlpool Sandstone and beckoning to those who are curious about what lies beneath. This was no stairway, but still it was an interesting diversion.

We followed up this streamway and next post I will show you what we found.

Can anyone tell me where this ancient ladder might be?

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Quartz seam in which the gold was found is pushed up against the rock face.

 

Abandoned Ontario Gold Mine

Looking in from the entrance of the mine, this tunnel leads on for a short distance. The granite headwall against which the quartz seam seems pushed appears on the right. Further back in the valley outside the mine, the surface extension of this granite face hangs out over the valley and then bends around to appear as the face of a smooth polished cliff that can be seen from a nearby meadow.

The air is dead in this tunnel – thus it would be reasonable to assume that it ends quite shortly, however the downward leading hole as seen in a previous post blows cold air and possibly contributes to the growth of a large, jagged lump of ice. I am reminded of an iceberg as the ice is all scalloped and smooth with nothing like the drip deposited features seen in the typical cave ice stalactites and stalagmites seen in Southern Ontario.

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Gold Bearing Quartz vein

Finding gold in Ontario

There are supposedly over 9000 abandoned mines known to exist in Ontario – shafts, caverns and tunnels, many collapsing, unstable or traps within which poisonous gases settle.

At this mine the granite hillside is undercut. Here a fallen boulder, streaking in oxidizing mineral residue, partially blocks a downward leading cavity. From another enthusiast I have learned that there is more to the mine than what I could see (I did not go in past the entrance which appears to end abrubtly). Unless there is another entrance off in the bush, this must have been the way that the old miners had followed the vein.

I understand that there is a tunnel that leads down into water and at least one other that dead ends. Don’t explore abandoned mines, they are deadly and many people loose their lives in them each year.

Apparently 2489 tons of ore were produced from this mine. It was estimated to be worth around $8500.

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The gold was in a quartz vein, but it seems to have disappeared

Algoma Region 

The vein in which the gold was found was obviously one of quartz. There is a fair bit of massive quartz scattered through the bush near by – some of the rock is translucent white and other pieces tend toward a waxy grey or even black. There must be some radioactivity in the rock for this variety of shading to have taken place.

The mine was worked until the early 1900’s and then, as was speculated – they must have lost the vein and closed in 1909 – supposedly it had shifted. Low gold prices made further exploration pointless, but drilling in 1938 revealed some significant amount of gold below – again the gold prices were said to be so low that a mining venture could not be justified. An American company made an unsucessful attempt at revival in the 1980’s.

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Hempfest near the Mine


Abandoned Gold Mine in Ontario

There are a couple of interesting rumors floating around about this mine, one, like the rumour of the chicken in El Dorado suggests that a local cow was found to have a nugget in its belly when slaughtered. Another rumor was that the fatality that contributed to the mine’s closure was a collapse that killed several workers – other sources suggest that it was only 1 worker who had died. Apparently the body/bodies were never recovered.

Anyway, this old gold mine is at the end of a short gulley up against a remote, though beautiful hill of granite. Nearby towns are all just barely functioning, most buildings boarded up and rotting.

About the only thing that seems to have attracted outside attention lately (aside from my own) was the “hempfest” nearby – but none of that at the mine.

Drenched in DEET, trying to read my GPS which refused to function beneath the trees, I approached the mine cautiously, watching for loose rock and the ever-present possibility of bears. (I realize that some suggest you wont find bears in mines, but that is no consolation if I round a corner and find myself face to face with the bear that isn’t there). I found no bears, but the horse flies chewed big scabs onto the top of my balding head.

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Abandoned Gold Mine in Ontario

Algoma region

You might imagine that I have lost interest in the mineral world, but it is not the case – work just becomes all-consuming some times and I need to set my personal life aside, but summer holidays are here again and its time to re-establish interest.

This past week took me north of the “Soo”, Sault Ste. Marie for those who are not familiar with the expression “Soo”. Up there, past Batchewana Bay, the shield is absolutely ancient, high hills, possibly more rugged than down around Bancroft, but no less dotted with old abandoned mines and rock hounding sites. Sadly, there is little in the way of karst as I am used to seeing it – so no caves, or none that I saw.

This picture is of an deserted house at an abandoned gold mine that I explored (more to come on that).

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Anybody know about caving clipart?

Thoughts of tunnels deeper in.

You might be interested to compare this picture to the one I have included three or four posts earlier of the Cuevas de Bellamar – Cuba. Aside from the size difference you might also notice the difference in tunnel crossection. Any idea why? Are there any cavers out there who would like to interperet the elliptical as opposed to the flat bottomed reason for the two tunnel shapes? Any knowledge of red Cuban limestones? I would be really interested to know about the kind of limestone that the Cuevas de Bellamar had formed in.

This picture is taken deeper in along the small passages at the edge of the small escarpment. I hope with summer investigation we might find a way to penetrate deeper in.

Water flows across the more easily crawlable direction of these tunnels that proceed parallel to the resurging stream nearby – this indicates to me that there is something deeper in – this is not just a passage that leads along beside the river.

See the channel in the floor. There are several that run out toward the river from deeper in the river bank. The more I think about it, the more I feel resolved to investigate the bigger scarp in the Spring. I’ve never been up top.

Just a question, Anybody know where I can find some good caving clipart? I am preparing a presentation on power-point for a club of interested individuals. I never realized what great stuff you could accomplish with that program.

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