Centennial MineMinesScrapbook

Copper Country Scrapbook IV

Today for Copper Country Scrapbook I present the Centennial No. 3 – as seen by fellow explorer Jay Balliet. He’s taken a great deal of photos of this baby, which is a good thing since we haven’t gotten out to it yet. Although I’ve featured its big brother on this site – Centennial No. 6 – I have not yet featured the No. 3. I’ll let Jay take us on a quick tour instead – starting with this revealing shot above. This is why I don’t include this shaft on my list of “still standing” – the headframe is taking a precarious lean to the left, while the collar house leans the opposite direction. I’d be surprised if it survived the winter intact.

The reason for this lean has to do with the snapping in two of one of its support beams – which can barely be seen to the left in this photo. Here we also see a that a portion of the floor has fallen down, swung down like a door. Also a bad sign.

Here’s a shot from inside the rockhouse. I’m not sure what this equipment is – at first I thought that was a tram car. But it doesn’t have wheels, and looks to be permanently attacked to the chute above. I’m assuming its some type of sorter or maybe even a crusher, although I don’t see how it would work.

Sitting nearby to the rockhouse is a concrete “tunnel” heading down at an angle down under the rockhouse. Fellow reader Joe Dase has identified this as a conveyor tunnel which took rock fed to it from a rock bin out towards the nearby mill.

This shot is of the actual shaft itself – or at least the blue tarp covering it up. You can see the rails of the skip road heading down into it. It doesn’t look to be capped. To get this shot very dangerous things were done that no one should do when exploring – so don’t try it at home kids. Mines are dangerous.

At the other end of the system is the hoist house, seen here. Not sure if the hoist is still inside, but as Jay pointed out it looks like the hoist cable is still attached to something – as it runs inside. This building is actually in good shape.

Our parting shot for the day – showing the headframe in all its deathbed glory. I want to thank Jay for sending me the pics and letting me share them with everyone out there – thanks Jay! Of course, if anyone else has got photos of area ruins they would like to share – feel free to send them my way here: admin@coppercountryexplorer.com, or by using my submit page.

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  1. I think that the hoist support tower seen in the second to last photo has managed to fall over and die since Jay took these photos — the hoist ropes are now draped on the ground, but still attached to the hoist and the headframe.

  2. Yeah, in retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have gone between the headframe and the shaft.

    On our 2004 trip, I could’ve walked right into the conveyor tunnel (I didn’t). On this trip, they had piled dirt in front of it and put some corrugated steel along the upper part. I just stuck my camera in the hole and took a couple of shots.

  3. Pardon a dumb question injected at this point…But just who owns these structures? Is there some state agency that has control, or some corporate entity that still owns them? I am asking not only about this site, but also other mine shafts in general. Is there some set of state/fed regs that deal with abandoned mines?

  4. Bill,

    Some are owned by the government through the National Park Service, some are owned by nonprofit organizations such as the Champion at Painesdale and Quincy in Hancock (Quincy may actually be govt owned, not 100% sure). Others are privately owned. A frequent visitor here recently purchased the Robbins/West Vein Mine (along the cliff).

  5. Bill,

    The surface structures are owned by various groups. The vast majority are owned by the timber/paper companies who bought up so many sections for harvesting. On the other hand, the Quincy mine is owned by the Qunicy Mine Hoist Association, Delaware is owned by a similar group, and Champion #4 is owned by PMS.

    Generally speaking, I don’t think that the paper companies have mineral rights to their lands, and so the mines themselves are covered by federal laws which make it illegal for the general public to enter abandoned mines.

    However, most of these surface structures are simply ignored by their owners, until something happens which is bad enough to force the owners hands to maintain them or fully cap and cover the mines.

  6. Bill –

    Centennial here is owned by the township I believe. The same holds true for the Quincy Mill and Dredge, the Ahmeek Mill, Quincy Smelter, among others. When mine companies left (specially in Quiny’s case I heard) they basically left a lot of there taxes unpaid – and the land reverted to the local government.

    Of course this is a problem considering most of these sites are liabilities just waiting to happen. Like dcclark pointed out, often the sites are simply destroyed. This is much cheaper then rehabilitation. This also opens the door to selling the land, without any worries on the townships part.

    Interestingly, I think the one thing that has kept the Quincy Smelter from being razed years ago was the high costs of clean up at the site. You can’t just bulldoze over the thing, toxic waste, asbestos, ect had to be removed first. This is just too expensive for local governments to afford, so the mill was left alone. Today the EPA is cleaning it up for free – so it all worked out in the end.

    Anyway back to the original question. A rule of thumb I would use is that if the mine site sits near a town or city – its probably owned by some local government agency. If its sits far out in the woods somewhere, its probably owned by a lumber / paper company.

  7. Hei Guys. As the proud new owner of the Robbins/West Vein I’m starting to understand this liability issue. Granted, I haven’t seen the entire property yet and most of you have probably been inside the adit that I haven’t even found yet, but now that it’s mine, it feels different. I do intend to open the adit this spring and secure it with a door so future exploration can take place (I own the mineral rights). But when I bought it John told me people snowboard down the poor rock pile in the winter; sure as snow (same thing; 4 letters, starts with s), they not only snowboarded it this winter, they had a 5 foot ramp built on the edge of the pile that they hit after coming down through the rock and trees up the cliff! I was both amazed and shocked. I’m not sure I want that to continue, but feel guilty being the bad guy. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve been on every pile you guys have and probably inside every building you have on this site in the past 27 years (and crawled down any hole I can get into), but now it just feels different. Make any sense? This is a great site, and keep reminding people to use caution and common sense when approaching these old mines. I put up a private property sign in December just to let people know, but I’m not an ogre (although I’m known in the summer as “Captain Crabby”). Keep exploring, and keep the history alive! KF

  8. Thanks for the answers guys! It’s pretty much what I figured, but all of a sudden it struck me that I really did not know for sure.

    Capt Fosburg…I envy you owning your own mine, and fully understand the concerns you have.

    Maybe this liability issue might be a good case to take up with State lawmakers. Maybe some sort of law granting immunity against liability. Grant immunity to the owners of “designated historic lands & structures” against lawsuits for injuries so that folks don’t feel the need to fence, post, and close such areas to historians/explorers/hikers etc. Just such a law might help save some of these sites from further demolition, and closures.

  9. Actually, I believe that even so little as a snow fence is considered enough, by state law, to warn people “don’t go there”. If someone willingly crosses a well-marked fence, line of barbed wire, etc. on private land, the landowner is no longer considered liable. Of course, there are still plenty of dangerous ruins which are easy to get in to… use your brain!

    That’s what I have read — wiser folks may wish to correct me.

  10. Dcclark and folks… I was also told that any form of barrier (snowfence, barbed wire, etc.) that an individual would have to cross is sufficient for liability purposes. I’m sticking with that for now. Not sure what to do about the snowboarders, if anything.

  11. Kurt,

    Have you thought about stringing either cable or chain across the rock pile? It wouldn’t be cheap but should be pretty effective. They might just cut rope. Make sure you really mark it well by tying flags or something to it. If some snowboarder was hauling down and hit an unmarked rope/cable it would be very, very bad.

  12. the hoist at no.3 cenenial was old small hand fired steam–sometimes when engineer was signaled to hoist from bottom 36th level he had to shovel more coal to build up steam pressure–at least it was warm in winter there

  13. oh 2 of hoist engineers were jim ellis and a Nordstrom from centennial heights–the ride down that shaft was wavy–old time mines were sunk in copper vains because they got copper as they sunk–leaving ore vain in comglomerate vain left stronger back–ceiling–36th levlel plat had I think 2 0r 300 roof bolts—in no. 6 centennial from 9th level to surface we had to put roof bolts every 4 feet—8 foot long on north side–where mancar ran—4 ft on south side of shaft–they had to use real long shaft timbers there because we had to take out so much of foot rock to line up the new shaft with the old–drilling out foot we had about wall 8-10 feet high with water falls coming down on us–we had rain gear but water would come down your back following you headlamp wire–in winter I wore a navy hat under my shiner and ww2 big wool coat with big coller–art putilla from hancock was injured barring lose from that wall—he was on a ladder and lose pushed ladder backwards–he fell long ways being the lenth of ladder pluss angle of shaft before he landed–he never worked again–he had 7 kids–after that vic jacalleto had us work from top down–drilling downhill was hard–water and mud would run into hole soon as you finished drilling one so we had to charge holes with dynamite and electic blast caps soon as got holes drilled–all old shaft timbers and rails were blast and was big job getting them out mixed in with blasted rock–fun fun fun—that’s at no,6 shaft–9th to surface–they raised from 36th t0 17th–then 17th to 9th level–lot of climbing for those guys for sure–and powder headaches–you had to take few asperins before starting to work in anticipation of headaches–when holes miss fired you had powder mixed in with blasted dirt– they tried latter with new no headache dynamite–was like gun powder worked but C@H said it cost to–then you have people say with unions no one worked much –Laurence kaifesh yrs ago went Detroit–worked for chrysler–when ford started paying 5.00 a day he went to ford–said on assembly line there you never had time to even go to toilet–he said he went back to chrysler–his story– tony

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