Several weekends back, we returned to Rush, Arkansas to check out some more mines that the Arkansas guys had found.
Hiccup and I got up early that morning and headed down into Arkansas, where we once again met the Arkansas guys at a supermarket in Yellville. This time, though, it was just Firediver and Korb there to explore with us. We went ahead and followed them down to Rush, where we parked at the campground.
The first thing we did when we got there was to strap on our chest-high waders. The mine was across the river, and it was going to be the easiest way to get over there. And since it was fairly cold out that day, there was no way we were wading across it without them.
Once across, we ditched our waders and put our shoes back on, then started heading up the hill. We passed some concrete structures on the way, as well as a large pile of spoils, before coming up to the entrance of a fairly gigantic mine.
We climbed over the boulders and rubble in and around the entrance and went inside. The mine was large inside and fairly uneven, with the floor sloping up and down periodically. There was lots of rotting wood scattered about, as well as support beams still standing in places. There was also an old ore cart, some pieces of cart track, and flat places of piled rock made into small "roads" that had apparently been for ore track.
Although it would've been hard to get lost in there despite its size, someone had arranged pieces of wood into arrows throughout the mine. Most of the tunnels were big enough to drive an SUV through, and they snaked around randomly and branched off constantly. It wasn't that confusing to navigate them, but it did take a while to poke around in every little side tunnel to see where they led, which was always to an eventual dead end.
Before long, we made it to the other side of the mine, where another set of entrances led outside. In this area, the ceiling was extremely high, with huge dug out places in the ground. I joked that this would've been an awesome place for a rope swing, and it really would've been.
We went out and started walking along the river, heading toward another mine that the guys had seen but hadn't been able to check out last time. While we were walking, I kept running up the hill or down it to check out what might be caves or mines. It wasn't long before I had left everyone behind, although I didn't realize how far behind, and I felt bad when I realized I'd let Hiccup fall back to the rear.
I found the mine the guys had seen and stopped there to wait. It was just a pit that went straight down about thirty or forty feet. It was hard to see if it went anywhere else at the bottom, because it was sloped around the edges of the pit and that made it impossible to lean over and look down.
Korb and Hiccup caught up with me at the mine while Firediver waited up the hill for us. Korb had a rope, and I was extremely tempted to try and go down into the pit with it. If the rope had been long enough, I was sure I could've made it, but we weren't positive it was long enough. In the end, we just went on walking.
We followed the river for quite a while, but the ground leveled out and didn't seem to have any mines. We did, however, find a collapsed barn that we checked out. And when we decided to turn around and go back the way we'd come, we found another smaller pit mine that I was able to crawl down inside. There were two small chambers at the bottom that you could crawl into, but they didn't really go anywhere.
When we were done there, we walked back down to our waders, waded across the river to our cars, and drove down to where the trails were to check out some of the mines in that area. There was one particular mine I wanted to check out, although I wasn't sure we'd find a way in. However, while we were looking around, one of the guys managed to find a way in to a mine directly above it, and we went inside. We hoped that it would connect to the one I was wanting to get into.
This mine seemed to be a linear one, with one tunnel stretching back. But, just inside the entrance, it connected to another mine that was set lower in the hillside. So you ended up standing on a ledge about fifteen feet high looking down into the other mine, which was filled with a few feet of water. I had also wanted to get into that mine, and now that I had a way, I was determined to do it, but we needed to check out the one we were in first.
We headed inside, passing an old rock wall, and started checking out the mine. As we'd thought, it was one long stretch of tunnel, although there were two levels to the tunnel, with one set higher and off to the side. There was still ore cart track running the length of the lower level, as well as metal pipe.
At the end of the tunnel, we found a big area with a wooden platform where they'd apparently filled up the ore carts with rock. There was even an extremely large ore cart still half buried in the rubble. There was a small side tunnel there as well, but it didn't really go anywhere.
After that, we went back to the entrance area and I made a half-assed attempt to climb down into the second mine. However, it just wasn't do-able without a rope or ladder, so I decided I wanted to go back to my car and get my rope, my waders, and possibly my cable ladder as well. Korb and Firediver weren't too into it so they decided to head in for the day when we reached our vehicles, but I couldn't leave without seeing what was down there.
With the rope and waders in hand, Hiccup and I headed back to the mine. I tied the rope off to something secure and started going down. Because the ledge I was climbing against sloped inward in places, I kept having to walk from side to side against the wall to places where it didn't do that. Eventually, though, I reached the bottom and had Hiccup throw my waders down to me.
Inside the second mine, there was a large pool of water where the mine had flooded, with what appeared to be two partially submerged tunnels. I strapped myself into my waders and headed into the water. One of the tunnels turned out to not even be a tunnel, just a hollowed out area. The second one was definitely a tunnel, and I had to wade up to the very edge of my waders to check it out. Unfortunately, I could see that it was collapsed back inside, so it was a bust as well. I was still glad I had satisfied my curiosity, though.
I took a few pictures of the second mine while I was down there, then had Hiccup pull up my backpack and the box my waders were in. Then I started climbing back up the rope, which turned out to be slightly harder than going down had been. I had to have Hiccup move the rope from side to side for me so that I could climb around the concave areas in the ledge again, but I made it back up just fine.
With that, Hiccup and I headed back to the car with our gear and started back toward Springfield.
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