Click on any of the photos to view them full-size!
We went out exploring on a short hike today up to the Clipper Mine in the Carbon River Mining District out past Carbonado, Washington. The road was really rough getting out there, but totally worth the drive! Clipper was primarily a copper mine that runs near/underneath Surprise Lake, and is only about 1150 feet long. From what we could find online, it was developed around 1901 and closed in 1943. Waterproof boots, headlamps, and flashlights are all a must for this mine – there is water running along the ground the length of the mine, and you lose the light from the entrance very quickly!
You can’t tell in that photo, but the mine entrance is at the top of the pile of “tailings” – rock that was blasted/dug out of the mine. Getting up to the mine was a little iffy – it was all very loose, and luckily we found an easier way down!
Inside the mine was awesome, but you had to watch your head! The ceiling was fairly low at the beginning of the mine, and a lot of the wood and metal from the strap rails they used in the mine is still in there. If you click to enlarge this photo, you can see water running out of the mine, between and around the old wooden rails. I only whacked my head a couple times on our way back out…
About halfway into the mine, water was pouring out of the rock, and running water (and my chattering) were the only sounds in there. Once we got to where the mine dead-ended, you could hardly even hear the water running, and the silence was a little creepy.
Towards the end, and down a little horizontal branch, we found some of the drilled spots for dynamite that they never used. We haven’t been able to find why it was abandoned – if they reached the end of the vein of ore, or for some other reason.
We reached the dead-end of the mine, and Destin took my picture. I told him that if there was anything creepy behind me in the photo, he wasn’t allowed to say anything until we were back in the truck! (I think I’ve seen at least one too many scary movies. I also think I look like a dork in this photo, but Destin insists it’s “fine” so it’s going online anyway!)
Destin was having fun looking around, too. In some spots the ceiling went up quite a ways, and you could see different veins of minerals in the walls.
On the way back out, it was easier to pay attention to the cool bits in the mine that were leftover from when it was in use – like these railway ties from the rail for their carts…
…and these old logs that were being used as ceiling beams. I think they must have been to help to support the mine, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around a chunk of a tree supporting stone.
Thankfully, we found an easier way back down than we’d come up, by going down a side trail. Do you like my gaiters?
I really like Trillium, and I’ve come across it on quite a few hikes, growing wild. Evidently, there was an ant that liked this one, too!
We did some other poking around in the area, and found quite a few pieces of rusty metal like this one that reminded us of chimney pipe, but we couldn’t figure out what they were. There were even a few pieces in the mine. Several pieces had that little loop you see on the right side. Perhaps for joining pieces together?
We also found a waterfall just down a little from the mine. We had to do a bit of poking around to find a spot where we could get a good view of it. After I accidentally grabbed a sticker bush for balance, I was much more careful about grabbing plant life to steady myself! We’re not even sure that the spot you see in the top of the photo was the top of the waterfall – it looked like it curved around to the left and kept climbing! To get this photo, I played another game of “good idea, bad idea” and stood in the creek! The water was only an inch deep at the most in the spot where I was standing, and the rock was nice and flat. It looked like this area must have been largely granite to have such nice level layers that looked like stairs.
All in all, a fun day! Why did they never teach us the cool bits about more recent local history like mining and ghost towns when we studied Pacific Northwest History in school?