The Cliff Range was home to many mines, one of which was the first profitable mine to exist in the Copper Country. It was in the middle of the nineteenth century that the Cliff Mine blossomed into an industrial juggernaut. Working a fissure vein at the Greenstone flow, the mine worked the cliffs from all angles; shafts at its base, adits driven into its face, and even by shafts sunk into their top. In the process it managed to pay its investors over $2.5 million dollars (in 1870!) and secure a spot as one of the most profitable in the Copper Country.
We figured if we followed the lip of the cliffs north towards the Cliff Mine, that we would stumble across something remaining from those upper shafts of the cliff. (hopefully not stumble into them however) It was not easy walking the rim, for logging had not thinned this area out over the years. A tangled net of trees, brush, and rocks slowed us down every step of the way. The rim is very rugged and we found ourselves climbing up and down large boulders and scaling rock walls. It wasn’t long, however, until we came across something interesting.
It was a cut in the cliff face, much narrower then the one that brought us here. Looking down the steep incline we could make out the dark stain in the ground of a now dried up stream that must have ran through this cut. Climbing down a steep rock wall we dropped down into the stream bed itself. It was there that we found a line of iron pipes seemingly following the creek itself. Similar to the remains we discovered at Quincy Creek, these pipes probably served to deliver water to boilers down at the cliff base. Perhaps at one time this creek was damed up, providing a steady supply of water to these pipes over the years.
Hopping the small stream we knew that we were close to more ruins. On the other side we once again faced thick brush and difficult terrain, but slowly made our way out to the cliff face. Only the face here was not made of rock, but instead was made from poor rock. Like a waterfall, a impressive wave of poor rock flowed off the cliff top and crashed down into the forest below, burying a good amount of trees in it’s wake. Down below us we could make out the other rock piles and even a few ruins belonging to the Cliff Mine. We were at the right spot, and the poor rock on which we stood meant a shaft was nearby.
It was the foundation to an old smokestack that we found first, sitting in the woods near the poor rock pile. The side facing the cliff edge was missing, as if the stack took a tumble off the edge years ago. On the opposite side only a short jagged sliver remained, but it’s circular shape still noticeable. The smokestack would indicate a boiler, and sure enough a stone foundation sat nearby sandwiched between some trees.
Continuing on we came across yet another ruin. If the pattern continued (smokestack, boiler, hoist, shaft), this should be a hoist building. It could very well of been, although it wasn’t in the traditional “H” shape, but instead in more of an “E” shape. (View Panoramic >) Scattered across the ruins were sets of large bolts which only strengthened the hypothesis. Now only one more ruin remained.
This one sat right up against the cliff face, and manifested itself in a large hole in the ground. The hole was filled at the bottom with leaves and debris, and was about a dozen feet deep. Sticking out of the hole was a large pipe, capped at the top. While quite possible the shaft, its odd position so close to the cliff face was puzzling. Only a couple feet separated it from a rocky ledge, and placing a shaft so close to the edge seemed dangerous. Also not quite right was it’s relation to what might have been a hoist building – they weren’t lined up at all. Specially not enough to run a hoist rope between them. I would have investigated further, except my friend called from deep into the woods. He had found something even more impressive.