We did some pretty productive exploring this weekend, specifically the night before last. We also managed to check out one of the coolest finds in the area.
I started off the night by meeting up with Sertile in Springfield. He wanted to climb the mill after reading my blog entry about it. So, even though I swore I was never climbing the thing again, we did just that. As it turns out, it's not so bad when you actually do it during warm weather, with gloves, and without a ton of gear strapped to your back. And it was nice because I got to see the view from the roof in the daylight.
Before we left, we also checked out the basement, which I hadn't thought to examine last time, and it was one of the most disgusting places I've had the displeasure of exploring. The floor was covered in an inch-thick layer of black gel that resembled tar but smelled like manure from a dairy barn. Add to that, there was solid mass of cobwebs from one end of the basement to the other, and I mean solid. I looked like I was covered in gray fur by the time I walked out of there.
After we were done there, we drove out to Carthage to meet up with Dru. There was a huge, abandoned mine in the area that Dru had been to before, and we were finally meeting up to check it out. We grabbed Dru from his house, drove down to a suitable parking spot, and he started leading us out into the woods to the mine. The entrance, one of many entrances we later found, was back in the woods against a bluff. A massive opening, easily big enough to drive a dump truck into, led back into the hillside.
The inside of the mine was, of course, extremely amazing. It was just a huge, empty space cut out of the solid rock and going in all directions. The ceiling was about twenty feet high, with rock columns as big around as an SUV at even intervals to support the ceiling. They were spaced fairly far apart so that trucks and equipment could literally drive around the mine, and you could still see the makeshift dirt roads and tire tracks going throughout the place. It also looked like they had intentionally torn up the area around the entrance so that no one could drive a vehicle inside, because there were limestone boulders mounded up near the entrance that obviously hadn't fallen from the ceiling.
I immediately broke out the tripod to take some pictures. I had my 10 million CP spotlight with me, which I thought would allow to take some long exposure shots. Unfortunately, even though the spotlight lit the mine up beautifully for us, it was too focused a beam to take any decent pictures with. So, I left the tripod at the entrance and settled for taking flash pictures. They were turning out pretty dark, but I figured I'd just come back with a bright kerosene lantern to take some decent ones.
We basically wandered aimlessly around the mine after that. We'd see something interesting and head that way, then see something else and go a different way. There were places all over where we'd find big piles of boards. Some of them were obviously structures that had collapsed, while others were just loose boards thrown into stacks. We also ran across various bits of destroyed machinery, lots of metal pipes, and other random junk, and we found several additional entrances to the mine.
It wasn't long before we stumbled across something that elevated the coolness of this place several notches. We were walking along inside the mine when we started coming up on what appeared to be a really long ditch. As we got closer, we saw that it wasn't merely a ditch. It was some kind of gigantic trench, several feet deep at least and running about a hundred yards wide. When we got close enough to see the bottom of the trench, we realized what it really was. The trench sloped down at an angle, way down, and led to another large opening in the ground.
The trench was actually a road leading down into another level!
We were immediately excited and started heading around to where the trench sloped up to meet the ground. I'd never even heard of an underground quarry like this having two levels sandwiched on top of each other. I'd always figured something like that would be too unstable. When we walked through the opening and down into the second level, we were again shocked at what we saw.
We were standing at the shore of what amounted to an underground lake. There was another fully developed level of the mine stretching out in front of us, looking equally large as the one above, complete with rock columns and high ceilings. The only difference was this one was flooded with several feet of crystal clear green water.
It was both amazing and frustrating. We all desperately wanted to explore the second level, but there was no way we were wading chest high into freezing water. We decided we'd come back as soon as possible with either a canoe, a large rubber raft, or maybe even kayaks. We were extremely curious about whether it was possible there was yet another level underneath us, one that was completely underwater.
We headed back up to the main level after that, and then wandered out of another entrance to the mine to look at an old building we saw outside. Outside, we found one more entrance, this one sloping down at an extreme angle. It was yet another entrance the second level.
As we were heading down the new entrance into the second level, we found something even more interesting. Off to the side of the tunnel, there was a ladder going up to the ceiling. From there, it went into a large metal pipe and out of sight. There was also a steady stream of water raining down from it.
Since no one else was stupid enough to get soaked, I volunteered to climb up. I had Sertile and Dru brace the ladder, which looked unstable as hell, and climbed on up. It was about ten feet to the metal pipe, and the metal pipe ended up being about another ten feet long when I got to it. However, I could see once I entered the pipe that it led up to the main level of the mine.
I climbed up out of the pipe, which was about four feet in diameter, and walked around. It was the same area we'd just exited from, but somehow we hadn't seen the pipe. It also looked for all the world like something out of Super Mario Bros. with my climbing out of a pipe that jutted a few feet out of the ground. I took a few pictures to show the guys and climbed back down the pipe.
We continued on down to the second level, but it was the same story as before. The road sloped down to meet the water, and there was no way to continue. We could see that the second level was definitely just as big as the main one, though, and it just renewed our determination to come back and explore it by boat.
After that, we headed back to the main level and explored a little further, finally finding where the mine ended at one side. It was also flooded in that section of the main level as well. We rested there for a while before deciding that we were all tired and had seen enough for the night.
When we started heading back, we realized we didn't really know which way to go. All of us had a different idea about where the entrance was. We finally settled on following landmarks in the mine we'd seen before, and, eventually, we found our rubble-filled entrance. I grabbed my tripod, loaded up my crap, and we headed on back to the car. One of the few times I've ever gotten turned around in an underground place.
Comments are closed for this post.
Here you can read about White Rabbit's day-to-day explorations and adventures.
|<< <||> >>|