The concrete structure we approached was a more modern structure then what we have been accustomed to. Instead of poor rock and red bricks, this structure was completely constructed out of concrete. Two large concrete foundations, about twelve feet in height and six feet in width straddled the old rail line. Above the line, a concrete ceiling created a tunnel of the space below. The cap sported a group of large openings, probably used to dump the rock into the waiting ore cars below. Now however, only a small tree and various bushes took advantage of the openings for light.
This structure was easily identifiable as a rockhouse, possibly a shaft-rockhouse combination. The entire structure would have been made of steel and would have risen a good half dozen stories above our heads, easily towering around the surrounding landscape. Rock would be hoisted out of the mine and brought to the top of the structure. From there gravity would be used to move the rock through various processing steps (mostly crushers) before it was separated into copper rock and poor rock. The poor rock would make its way to the rock pile adjacent, and the copper rock would find its way here – under the structure — to be loaded on waiting ore cars.
Now standing in the same place as those ore cars of old, the modernity of the structure was even more apparent. Above me, lining the length of the tunnel was electrical conduit and an old light fixture could still be seen – sans bulb of course – tucked up in the corner. Some of these mines operated 24/7 and these lights probably proved useful during the long hours of darkness during winter.
Moving out from the tunnel, a large pile of debris sits across the tunnel openeing. Long rusted cables, broken pieces of concrete, and pieces of rebar was scattered at my feet. Above me, large metal posts and bolts stuck out from the structure at various points. In front of me along the ground, a line of old wooden rail ties was still in place. In the distance the continuation of the same line could be seen, heading out into the woods past the rock pile.
We moved on from the rockhouse, confident that somewhere nearby must be more buildings – specifically a hoist building and a shaft house.