Kitanning Mine

Kitanning Cabin
Kitanning Cabin

The Kitanning Mine is located not far from the tiny hamlet of Index, WA, and can be found just off the long washed out Index-Galena Road.

GETTING THERE

(Disclaimer: These directions are for novelty purposes only)

Winter walk
Winter walk

The washout makes for two different ways to reach the Kitanning; either from Beckler Road, just past Skykomish or by driving to the washout at the end of Index-Galena Road and hoofing it along a rough hewn path through trees, mud and some post-apocalyptic looking sections of washed out roadway.

"Road Closed"
“Road Closed”

In the wintertime hiking is sometimes the only way, and makes for a nice winter walk anyway.

Either way you go you’ll wanna end up at the east side of the wash-out.

♪♫Ooh, ooh, ooh looking out my back door♪♫
♪♫Ooh, ooh, ooh looking out my back door♪♫

Maybe ½-1 mile or so east of the washout shore exists a curve in the road from which a faint trail leads off into the woods. Follow it and you’ll start gently gaining elevation.

At this point mine finding experience is a good thing to have. (A copy of Discovering Washington’s Historic Mines Vol.1 really helps too)

To the best of my recollection I followed the little trail until it disappeared beneath thigh deep Oregon Grape.

Lonely miners...
Lonely miners…

I found an ephemeral stream bed to my right and followed it up, staying left when an obstacles came and eventually began reaching small cliffs, working my way around the them.

When I first went some years ago the sight of the old cabin meant you were there. However I’ve heard in recent years the old Kitanning cabin has collapsed, possibly making the mine more difficult to find, and sealing the hodge-podge of relics and ancient pornography within.

The upper adit
The upper adit

THE TUNNELS

The first adit is right around the corner from the remains of the cabin, literally. It’s right there.

The tunnel is a couple hundred feet long and is blasted into what seems like pretty stable rock. Turquoise colored mineral staining can be seen inside, as well as a couple scattered artifacts.

The upper adit is approximately 500ft above you, amongst steep and sometimes cliffy terrain. An old miner’s trail fades in an out, occasionally leading the way.

This tunnel is a couple hundred feet longer than the lower one and boasts more impressive mineral deposits.

Tessbo Biped deep in the Kitanning
Tessbo Biped deep in the Kitanning

An interesting side note is that this adit does not have a corresponding tailings pile. Strange, no?

According to DWHM#1, the entire tailings pile was hauled off to the smelter by the Twentieth Century Alaska Copper company in the early years of the 1900s.

THE MINERALS

Copper was what was sought after at the Kitanning and is found in the ores; chalcopyrite, bornite, chalcocite and pyrite.

Since there isn’t a tailings pile, specimens are mostly limited to what you can knock from the veins inside the tunnels.

As always, leave it the way you found it (aside from some mineral samples perhaps)

Good luck and happy trails!

Nuclear Patina
Nuclear Patina

References:

Woodhouse, Phil; Jacobson, Daryl; Petersen, Bill; Cady,Greg; Pisoni, Victor, Discovering Washington’s Historic Mines Vol.1: The West Central Cascade Mountains. Oso Publishing Company, 1997

Alice Claim

Ore Crusher
Ore Crusher

Along the way up the McClellan Butte trail you might stumble upon the remains of the mill site and adit of the Alice Claim… that is, you would have along the old trail.

Nowadays you’d probably only find it if you were looking for it.

The adit
The adit
The adit from the trail
The adit from the trail

At one time in the not so distant past, the trail up the butte passed right beside the claim, but now that trail has been abandoned in favor of another, and is slowly being reclaimed by nature.

Rusted "thing"
Rusted “thing”

Interestingly enough, hikers still pass right by the site, albeit on a different path, though I imagine only a few oddballs ever notice.

The abandoned trail and mill site are found along Alice Creek, which as a matter of interest was named Revington Creek during the time the Alice Claim was in operation.

Abandoned trail
Abandoned trail

The adit itself is collapsed and flooded in addition to being dug into steadily decaying overburden. Which is to say, even if this thing were open, it would be exceedingly dangerous to enter.

STAY OUT, STAY ALIVE!

Ore crusher detail
Ore crusher detail

According to Discovering Washington’s Historic Mines Vol.#1,  there once existed three tunnels totaling 500ft of underground workings. However, during my visit I only located the one.

El Crush-o
El Crush-o

A Seattle Times article from July 1900 stated that construction of a surface tram had begun at the claim, linking one of the adits to the mill site. At that time, the mine working machinery was already in operation and the milling equipment was on order. The capacity of this mill was said to handle 10 to 15 tons of ore per day.

Old wood pile
Old wood pile

Nowadays not much remains, though what does is impressive enough.

The first major artifact seems to be some sort of furna.. You know, honestly I have no idea what in the hell it was exactly, maybe a furnace/boiler something. It looks as though it handled high temperatures at one time, judging by the decaying wrap on the pipes and a mixture of ash and brick underneath it.

Moss toupee
Moss toupee

Feel free to school me on this one!

The second, and in my opinion, most impressive artifact is what I’m very certain is an ore crusher. It consists of three large metal pestles set in a large cylinder with an ore chute on one side. I imagine this thing was as loud as hell when it was running.

(The ore crusher is known as a Huntington Mill, designed by Frank Atwood Huntington, learn more about the man and his machine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Atwood_Huntington)

Stove bits
Stove bits

Other artifacts include what appears to be a smashed wood stove and a pile of cut wood in addition to the miscellaneous corroding pipes, bars and various chunks of rusted metal that litter the site.

The Alice Claim is worth a visit for those of you interested in such things and luckily the star artifacts are too heavy to be carried off, so they will likely be there awhile. Though some jackass tagged one of them… yeah.

Anyway, as always, don’t be that jackass, leave it the way you found it.

Happy Trails, Harry Biped

Inside the Ore Crusher
Inside the Ore Crusher

References:

Woodhouse, Phil; Jacobson, Daryl; Petersen, Bill; Cady,Greg; Pisoni, Victor, Discovering Washington’s Historic Mines Vol.1: The West Central Cascade Mountains. Oso Publishing Company, 1997

 

 

 

 

Ravensdale Cemetery

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Around the turn of the century Ravensdale was a thriving little coal town with a population upwards of 1,000 residents.

The trail...
The trail…

Now it is more or less a collection of rural suburbs, but some old buildings still remain, and I feel it retains a character of it’s own, though coal ceased to be king many, many years ago.

One of the worst coal mining disaters in state history occurred in Ravensdale when just after one o’ clock on 16NOV1915, an explosion at the Northwest Improvement Companies mine claimed the lives of thirty one men.

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To the grounds...
To the grounds…

Many of those men were laid to rest at Ravensdale cemetery.

While it is not unusual for a small town to have a cemetery what follows is:

In 1963 graverobbers descended upon the little cemetery, exhuming graves, smashing headstones and vandalizing the grounds. The graveyard was robbed multiple times. It’s said that headstones were scattered throughout the surrounding woodlands…

Desecrated graves...
Desecrated graves…

The cemetery was largely forgotten in the following years, records were lost and time marched on.

Today you would never guess that right in the middle of a nondescript rural suburb exists what is left of a graveyard that bears with it such a storied past.

Driving by you might guess the little trail leading to the cemetery instead meanders up to a kids fort back in the woods, or some teenage beer hangout.

The trail is very short, maybe a hundred feet or so before you come to a volunteer built kiosk describing the cemetery, it’s past, it’s occupants. Next to it is a little rock bordered path leading up to the grounds.

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Vines of dwarf periwinkle snake across concrete remnants of graves, and in certain times of the year lilies grow for those resting below, planted many years ago by those that loved them.

 

At first one might come with a morbid curiosity after hearing of the cemeteries desecration in the past, but I find it’s soon replaced by a certain melancholy, perhaps a quiet solidarity with the spirits that still dwell there.

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Damon & Pythias Mine

Exploring the Damon Vein
Exploring the Damon Vein

The Damon & Pythias, one of the very first mines I ever visited and usually the first I bring folks to visit when they are just becoming interested in mines.

Before I ever even knew of the Discovering Washington’s Historic Mines series or really much of anything about mines, I stumbled upon a trip report to The D&P on 2drx.com , a great site with lots of trip reports and photos (unfortunately as of this writing the site is down, but hopefully it’ll be up again soon)

View from the adit
View from the adit

I remember being captivated by their pictures of the relics deep inside the mines depths and glued to every word I read as I imagined exploring the abandoned abyss.

Intrepid explorer
Intrepid explorer

They included a hand drawn map as well, which I printed out and carried along with me on that first trip.

Well, it’s been a long time since then, and I’ve visited the Damon & Pythias dozens of time since, and I keep coming back.

Simply put, it’s a combination of ease of access, mine complexity and abundant relics that keeps the D&P at the top of my list.

Ye olde ladder
Ye olde ladder

At a time in the not too distant past it was possible to drive all the way to the D&P (albeit with a high clearance vehicle) but the final 100yrds of the road have now been blocked, with future blockages coming in the future.

Deep in the Priestly Vein
Deep in the Priestly Vein

One of the first things you’ll notice when you arrive at the site is a very large culvert pipe kinda just sitting there. As you approach further, the tailings pile and large rusted ore hopper will appear to your left.

Climbing up the tailings pile you’ll see another culvert piece, this one covering the adit a la Quonset hut.

Cool effect man...
Cool effect man…

 

Also on the top of the tailings pile is the charred remains of what used to be a sort of covering over the tracks leading to the end of the tailings pile.

The miners here were seeking gold and silver as well as lead found in the ores arsenopyrite, chalcopyrite, and galena. Samples of these ores can still be found in the mine and tailings pile today.

Disclaimer: Mines are extremely dangerous, stay out, stay alive.

Ahem, upon entering, a dilapidated gate halfway blocks the door. I’m sure at one time it kept people out, but it’s purpose is much more passive these days.

Twisting tunnels
Twisting tunnels

Walking along the cart rails, paralleling the drainage channel and old ventilation pipe you’ll probably begin to think “How deep is this thing”?

Eventually you’ll come to the first drift.

It’s not very long in either direction, the floor is pretty muddy, there are no artifacts and the rock looks…questionable. Typically I explore this one with a flashlight beam.

Interesting switch tracks
Interesting switch tracks

Continuing along the main tunnel you are again in store for a decent walk before coming to the next drift. This is known as the Damon Vein. You’ll immediately see a large rusted air compressor tank. It’s rivets speak of it’s age.

The ore chute
The ore chute

There some other debris of note in the area, but none more interesting than the huge wooden structure to your right.

As you approach the moldy wooden giant, you might notice that it sits directly below a very high raise. Shine your light into the darkness to try and see the top.

The compressor tank
The compressor tank

Also of note is the bucket from an ore chute, at one time this would be supplied with ore dropped from the raise above, once the bucket was filled, the handle pulled would have dumped the ore into a waiting mine cart. Good lesson to learn here, let gravity do the work.

The rest of this drift is mostly barren, but worth the walk.

Heading back down the other direction of the drift, one follows cart rails down a sometimes twisting tunnel, past a couple old ladders (broken in recent years, thanks geniuses) to an uneventful end.

rails and rails
rails and rails

Back at the intersection with the compressor tank you may have noticed a creepy door further down the main tunnel. Enter if you dare, but be warned, some say Dracsquatch (Dracula and Sasquatch’s unholy progeny) dwells beyond this point…. but I’ve never seen him, in fact I just made that up.

The tunnel continues on, and eventually the cart tracks give up the ghost, but not before passing a pile of rusted cable (Which is the last artifact of note from here on out)

The Drac-Squatch door
The Drac-Squatch door

You’ll eventually end up at another large intersection. This is known as the Priestly Vein. The drifts here are slightly shorter than in the Damon Vein and largely uneventful.

The adit from the old rusty cables
The adit from the old rusty cables

Heading back to the intersection, turn off your light and look toward the adit, this tunnel is so straight, you will be able to see the tiny pin prick of light over a quarter mile away.

Well thats the Damon and Pythias, and I’d like to keep it that way so as always, leave everything just as you found it, take only pictures and leave only footprints.

Phew! Made it out alive
Phew! Made it out alive

Happy Trails- Harry Biped

References:

Woodhouse, Phil; Jacobson, Daryl; Petersen, Bill; Cady,Greg; Pisoni, Victor, Discovering Washington’s Historic Mines Vol.1: The West Central Cascade Mountains. Oso Publishing Company, 1997

 

 

Bergeson Prospect

2010-OCT

This story starts off in a book, a great book in a series of great books that are full of  history and adventure  for anyone who opens up a copy. I am talking about the Discovering Washington’s Historic Mines series by Northwest Underground Explorations, in this case volume #1. (henceforth DWHM#1)

The great tome itself.
The great tome itself.

Whether you are the swashbuckling adventure type or just the type who likes to swashbuckle and adventure via the pages of a good book, relaxed in a cozy armchair, this series will serve you well and is worth every penny. The pages are loaded with historic photos and are an unbelievable wealth of information about Washington’s mines, state history and even some local lore. If I haven’t made myself clear, if you are reading this blog, you are the type who needs these books.

Rusty rails...
Rusty rails…

Ahem,

Having spent a great deal of time in the Miller River area, finding the Bergeson Prospect within the pages of this tome of the abandoned, I was immediately interested in locating the site.

Rusty cowling
and rusty cowling, all kinds of rusty stuff!

The book gives very good directions for both driving and footwork, that being said, unless you’ve spent a lot of time wandering the woods beyond the well worn trail, you probably wanna take someone who has. I should add also that if you should ever decide to enter a mine, not that I suggest you do, you should really never go alone. The potential for serious injury or death is there, and I don’t know about you but drowning in icy cold mine water, shattering my body by falling down a shaft or being crushed by unstable rock and spending my final moments on earth in the pitch black, Stygian depths of an abandoned mine is not exactly how I want to go.

The boulder blocking the grade
The boulder blocking the grade

Moving right along…

Gathering all the essential gear including three sources of light, I picked up a friend of mine and we were off towards Money Creek Road, a rough little dirt road off the Hwy 2 often in need of repairs. Following the directions to a tee, we parked and headed up into the woods.

Lady J emerging from the darkness
Lady J emerging from the darkness

One of the first orders of business was to locate an old road. The first time you go out looking for an old road in the woods, you’ll have no idea what to expect, every flat spot you see you’ll be asking, “Is that the road”? This is normal, over time you will develop an ability to pick out even the most ancient mining or logging road, and suddenly the Cascades will never quite look the same. It really is interesting just how many old road grades there are out there, and kind of a curse because if you are anything like me, you’ll wanna find out when they were built, why they were built and where they all go.

The Bergeson adit
The Bergeson adit

There are a couple landmarks on the way up, the first is a very large boulder, hogging up half the old road bed. It’s impossible to miss if you are on the right track, and I feel pretty confident in saying, this baby isn’t going anywhere for a very long time.

Honey, we're gonna need to call the HVAC guy...
Honey, we’re gonna need to call the HVAC guy…

The second real landmark is a little trickier to notice even though it is huge. It is the tailings pile from the mine, but it is mostly overgrown and doesn’t really look much like a tailings pile until closer examination. Really it looks like any old berm built up from an avalanche gully.

Being that this is the tailings, or waste rock from the mine, you know you are right below it. A short climb up the pile takes you to the quite picturesque site of the Bergeson Prospect. There are a few pieces of interesting debris outside the adit (mine entrance) and if you are more interested in just locating the site and taking it in, this would make a good place for a woodland picnic on a nice day. There are many massive old growth trees in the area, and it really is a pleasant feeling woods.

Looking back toward the adit
Looking back toward the adit

My friend and I however were going to enter the mine….

The adit was flooded, and likely still is, to a depth of mid-shin height or better. One of the first things you’ll notice in this mine is the tremendous amount of rust coating the walls and covering the floor.

Such a stillness, it's eerie
Such a stillness, it’s eerie

There are also a lot of relics left inside, the old mine cart rails, the ventilation pipes and various bits of wooden debris.

The mine is pretty deep in comparison to a lot of the other small claims in western Washington, around 1200′ deep I believe. Fortunately in this mine, there are no winzes (shafts) and it’s pretty straight forward.

There is however a great deal of water coming from the ceiling in this mine, and the constant dripping on the pipes, on the floor compounded with the echo can really play some tricks on your ears. Standing still and just listening, I could swear you could hear voices. On one occasion as we were going down a long straight section of tunnel, we saw what appeared to be a face at the end of our lights reach, stopping, we could hear the garbled voices. It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. I figured maybe someone else was exploring, or maybe A GHOST!

Into the depths of the Bergeson
Into the depths of the Bergeson

Turns out it was just a ventilation pipe half hanging from the ceiling with a steady rivulet of water falling upon it. Gotta say though, better scare than a haunted house.

The mine was pretty interesting, and not too difficult to find. If you are so possessed I’d suggest getting a copy of DWHM#1 and locating it yourself. I do not suggest entering a mine, and certainly not alone or with less than three separate light sources. Also, take only pictures and leave only footprints, there are many sites that are completely lost to us, the people of this age, because others decided to loot and plunder and for what? So they can have some shitty old piece of rusted metal sitting in their garage? We’re lucky to still have some of these outdoor museums in the state they were left, so lets keep it that way.

Good luck, and happy trails, Harry Biped

Ye olde boxe
Ye olde boxe

References:

Woodhouse, Phil; Jacobson, Daryl; Petersen, Bill; Cady,Greg; Pisoni, Victor, Discovering Washington’s Historic Mines Vol.1: The West Central Cascade Mountains. Oso Publishing Company, 1997