Wherever you find the foundation to a steam engine (or three in our case) you are bound to find a boiler house nearby. The Ahmeek Mine was born too early to have an electric hoist, and as such required steam to power its surface plant. At the No. 2 that boiler house was literally right next door, so close in fact that we dropped down from the walls of the previous ruin and landed right on top of it. Like the hoist ruin we found previously, it didn’t take us long to figure out where we had landed.
The boiler house ruin consisted of a long and narrow concrete floor cut into a series of slices by a couple narrow and shallow trenches running along its length. We haven’t been entirely sure the purpose of the trenches, but we have seen them in at least two other boiler house ruins. The floor itself was also similar to those at other boiler houses we found, a single layer of concrete notched to look like tiles. In the photo above, you can make out one of the trenches on the left side. (there’s a tree growing out of it)
Along one edge of the boiler house was this interesting looking wall – also similar to what we have seen before. The thickness of the brick walls and those concrete pedestals makes me think this structure served to support more then just the building’s walls. This area might have housed the coal bunker, which would require such a robust base to support the weight. Its also possible that those concrete pedestals held up an elevated trestle used to fill those bunkers from overhead rock cars.
An interesting detail we found at Ahmeek but no where else was this metal mesh draped across one of the trenches along the floor. Its possible that this was simply part of the internal structure of the concrete, but why it was so exposed here is a mystery to us.
Across the opposite wall from the coal bunker was this shorter concrete variety. On top of it sits the remains of the wooden sill plate. Here we can see the the plate was attached to the concrete by means of large bolts. We can also see that the building was brought down by fire, as shown by the scorching along the sill itself. Thats not uprising considering most buildings were razed in much the same way – much cheaper then bringing out heavy equipment. What is surprising is that parts of the boiler house were made from wood. Seems like a fire waiting to happen.
The last piece of the puzzle sat just a small distance outside the outer walls – that being the large sandstone base to the smokestack itself. The stack was now gone, but was most likely made of steel. The stack was bolted down to this foundation by means of those long bolts sticking out of its top. The use of sandstone seems a bit eccentric considering the cheaper looking materials used all around it (brick and concrete). I guess the art of beautiful masonry work was not completely dead when this mine opened after all.
Scattered around the stack’s base was a series of large steel eyebolts fastened into the ground. These were used to tie down guide wires used to keep the steel stack from falling over in strong winds. The cables must have been removed along with the stack – leaving just the base and these hooks as evidence of the stack’s existence.