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Range Motorsport 12-11-2012 09:23 AM

Going Subterranean, caves, mines, and holes
Ever since I was a kid I have loved exploring and have always had a fascination with going underground. As I got older I took that fascination and turned it into a profession. Now with connections from that profession I get to see areas that are closed to the general public. I just want to share some of the photos and learn about other places around the country that can be explored.

WARNING: the topic of this thread contains DANGEROUS activities and should NOT be attempted by anyone without proper training or supervision. Enjoy.

First we are going to start with the Caledonia Mine. This mine is an old copper mine with some very well preserved areas. Unfortunately we were constrained on time and only got about a half mile back into the mine. The Caledonia has a long history and is the combined work of 4 different mines (Nebraska, Kansas, Flintsteel, and Mass) that have been consolidated over the years. Currently the mine is privately owned and used to provide mineral specimens for sale across the world. You can also do a paid dig to find copper yourself although you don't get to go underground.
The Caledonia uses a raised stope chute to keep the ore above the rail grade and allow easy loading of the tram. This eliminates the need for a scoop tram unless they are drifting.
A nice 1% slope to the Adit and perfectly level rail gives a nice smooth ride on the tram.
This mine was operational through the 1958 and this was the lunch room. The wall was damaged when a load of old explosives was detonated underground and produced a larger than expected blast.
The lodes of Copper bearing rock are easily visible in the drift.

MikeinEugene 12-11-2012 09:35 AM

Very cool :clap


MikeFromMT 12-11-2012 12:57 PM

I've spent a lot of time underground, from old missile bases to storm tunnels and mines to natural caves, I find this stuff fascinating.

More pics and stories please :clap

rapidoxidationman 12-11-2012 01:27 PM

I may have a pic or 2 to contribute to this thread :evil

Range Motorsport 12-11-2012 07:47 PM


Originally Posted by rapidoxidationman (Post 20227043)
I may have a pic or 2 to contribute to this thread :evil

Please post away because most of my explorations went undocumented visually.

To give this thread a broader scope here's a place I want to explore, the Cincinnati Subway system. It was built and never even had rails laid out. It has quietly rotted away under the city.

rapidoxidationman 12-11-2012 08:14 PM

Don't eat the chili pepper...

Water can do some pretty freaky things when left to its own devices...

Range Motorsport 12-11-2012 08:45 PM

Copper Falls Mine-

The Copper Falls Mine is a very well preserved mine that has a very vast underground network of tunnels. I only had about 5 hours to explore this mine which is not enough to see all of it. The thing that makes this mine unique is the elevation of the mine and the slope of the lode. Most of the mines in the area start a couple hundred feet above Lake Superior and quickly drop down due to the 50-80 degree lode angle. The copper falls mine starts up on a hill and drops at about a 30 degree angle. This means you get about 8 levels of open mine before you hit water.

Upon entering the mine we descend immediately and come to one of several turntables. These turntables allowed the tram cars to be used as both shaft trams and drift trams. This is pretty unique to this mine due to the shallow lode angle.

The large pulley system for pulling the trams up the shaft is still there. The hoist was mounted at the bottom of the shaft.

The shaft goes down until you hit water.

Once we descended further we found a lot of cool equipment.

These anchored zip lines were for a copper loading system that allowed miners at the top of the stope to load copper in a box and zip it down to the drift to load in the tram car. Typical methods for getting copper down to the drift wouldn't work in this mine due to angle.

The bolt held back a cantilevered bar that connected to a chain that hooked to a cable.

That ran to the bottom of the stope.

We made it down to the bottom of the mine where it was flooded and found the old air tanks for the hoist. The first one was big and all riveted together.

The second one was a tank that looked like a civil war submarine.

The hoist that used to be down there now sits in front of the Sig Rho fraternity and was removed in the 50's after a lot of hard work. A history of the recovery can be read here

ericrat 12-12-2012 08:57 AM


Originally Posted by Range Motorsport (Post 20230097)
Please post away because most of my explorations went undocumented visually.

To give this thread a broader scope here's a place I want to explore, the Cincinnati Subway system. It was built and never even had rails laid out. It has quietly rotted away under the city.

The Cincinnati subway is, at least, minimally maintained. There was discussion about reuse for light rail projects recently. See The inspection tech in the article is my uncle.

Range Motorsport 12-12-2012 04:37 PM


Originally Posted by ericrat (Post 20233110)
The Cincinnati subway is, at least, minimally maintained. There was discussion about reuse for light rail projects recently. See The inspection tech in the article is my uncle.

Unfortunately that was ten years ago. I was born in Cincy and have a lot of family that still live there, the city itself is poorly managed and that's evident by the growing KY side of the river. I don't see the subway system being used for anything transportation related. It would make a cool underground bar and shopping center.

Here's an updated article from 2007
CINCINNATI (AP) -- From time to time, city officials ponder what to do with the abandoned, unfinished subway tunnels that start downtown and go north for 2.2 miles.

A new study, the most comprehensive analysis of the subway in decades, recommends making some repairs and maintaining the side-by-side tunnels at a cost of $2.6 million over the next five years - a much cheaper option than reviving the subway for modern transit cars.

City engineers said in the study that it would cost about $100.5 million to make the tunnels usable for modern transit. Just filling in the tunnels would cost about $19.6 million.

Either way, the city would have to spend another $14 million to relocate a 52-inch water main placed in the southbound tunnel in the 1950s, and that could require a regionwide water rate increase.

"We can't just continue to pour money into these," said Martha Kelly, a principal engineer for Cincinnati. "The subway is nearing the end of its 100-year design life. So we do need to make a decision on the future of rapid transit."

The tunnels are made of 100 concrete sections that were cast in place when the subway was built in the 1920s. Those sections are still in fair shape, but some of the joints between them have deteriorated.

"It didn't go anywhere, but it was built well," said Councilman Chris Bortz, chairman of the Economic Development Committee, which received the engineers' report.

In 1916, residents approved a $6.1 million bond issue to build a subway along the former route of the Miami and Erie Canal. But World War I intervened, and the project was abandoned in 1927 when the money ran out.

Pavement was laid over the tunnels, creating downtown's Central Parkway, and the concept of mass transit gave way to expressways.

As recently as 2002, voters rejected a half-cent sales tax plan that would have incorporated the tunnels into a $2.6 billion regional light rail plan parallel to Interstate 75.

But even the $114 million total cost of upgrading the tunnels and moving the water main wouldn't include the subway cars or other costs, such as tracks, utilities, ventilation systems and at least three new stations at a cost of $4.5 million each.

The engineers' report didn't take a position on the question of whether the region needs a mass transit system but recommended more study on how to get some use from the tunnels.

Although the $2.6 million in repairs will have to come from money already allocated for street repairs, housing and other needs, Bortz said it was a "no brainer" to protect the city's investment.

"Here we go again with these incredible assets that are lying fallow," Bortz said. "We keep recognizing its potential, and maybe we're getting closer to grabbing that potential."

Range Motorsport 12-14-2012 09:51 AM

White Pine Mine-

The White Pine is located in the tiny town of White Pine, Michigan just South of the Porcupine Mountains. It started life back in the 1870's and was started and shut down several times in it's life. The bulk of it's operation was from the 1953 to 1996 when it closed. The copper formations were both native copper and copper sulfides which is unique to the area. The mine also produced a very large amount of silver. The mine itself is a single level mine with a 5 degree slope that covers 25 square miles underground. This one mine produced more copper than all of the other mines in the district combined.

So we start by going to the portal to the mine where we find our first vehicles.

These haultrucks were powered by Deutz diesels and were massive machines.

Always heed the warning signs.

Ready to head through that door.

The rooms and tunnels in this mine are huge and there's 25 square miles of them!

Some old equipment still lies underground and it's big stuff.

We headed over to see the old mechanics room, it was still filled with parts and equipment.

The lunchroom is still there although it looks horrible.

We also found the storage room for all of the old core samples

Every mine like this has at least one emergency escape and we headed over to check it out.
If you want out start climbing

This mine was in a shale rock and had the entire roof bolted to hold it up. After nearly 50 years many of those bolts had failed.
A close look at a bolt

A failed bolt

JamesG 12-15-2012 09:32 AM

Which is why everyone wears funny hats.

The spelunkette is cute BTW.

crazydrummerdude 12-15-2012 01:18 PM

This is relevant to my interests. :D

As an explosives student, I spent a lot of time underground. As a curious bastard, I've found several abandoned mines throughout Missouri and am always looking for more forgotten, creepy underground things.

Range Motorsport 12-17-2012 09:52 PM

Sometimes we take equipment underground

ridered3000 12-17-2012 10:11 PM

[QUOTE=Range Motorsport;20274062]Sometimes we take equipment underground
Somewhere around Kansas City/Blue Springs Mo there are caves large enough to take a Freightliner pulling a 53' trailer into.My directions were to cross 2 sets of RR tracks and turn left at the second intersection after I entered the cave.I thought they were joking till I entered the cave.I didn't get a chance to get any photos since I was trying very hard not to scrape anything on the walls.I gave my dispatcher a suggestion about where he could put the truck if he ever tried sending me into a hole in the ground again

UngaWunga 12-18-2012 08:25 AM

Went caving twice in college. There's a nice cave in western NH we went to. Had to use a bucket brigade to empty the water out of a 10' narrow section, and then you could shimmy through it on your belly. It was only shoulder width wide, and we had to turn our heads sideways so the helmets would fit through. One arm forward/up, the other down, in case you got stuck.

But on the other side it opened to a rather large room with a small pond. Very cool to eat lunch with all the lights turned off. Was warmer in the cave than outside, since we visited it during the winter.

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