After yesterday’s first post on our Mesnard exploration, readers pointed out the existence of a large group of ruins sitting just behind the modern structures we had featured. I had noticed those same ruins on aerial images myself (highlighted on the image above) before heading out on the trail, and was intrigued. Heading out to Mesnard that day I knew I had to find out what those ruins were. It turns out that even without those aerial images to warn us of their existence, clues on the ground would have alerted us to their presence.
Those clues were these: trenches leading away from both the dry house / captains office building (the “up” branch in the photo) and the shaft house (to the right in the photo). Lined with stone walls and straight as an arrow these trenches were man made – and they led off to the left to some other structure we had not yet found.
Inside these trenches were there large pipes which we recognized as steam pipes. These were utility trenches, and these pipes carried steam to the various buildings of the Mesnard surface plant. Since the modern hoist at the shaft was electricially powered, these steam pipes had to of been from the old Mesnard, back when it was known as Quincy No. 8. We knew if we followed those trenches we would come across more ruins from that bygone era – ruins that would turn out to be the same ruins we saw on the aerial images.
Coming out of the woods we found ourselves up against a rather large concrete structure, some five feet in height. Peppered with small window openings we had seen similar structures before. What we were looking at was the foundation to a large building, most likely to the shaft’s original hoist. (check out the BIG IMAGE to get a better look) It’s construction materials seemed to match that of the dry house we found earlier – which makes me think the two were built around the same time. (it also seems to suggest the dry house we found was original to the mine, or at least to this hoist)
Climbing on to the top of the ruins we found something much larger then it looked from the ground. Once on top we could see that we were looking at two structures that shared a common center wall. On the right was something we recognized right away as a hoist building, almost identical to the hoists we found at Gratiot and Champion. On the left, however, was something we weren’t as sure of. (View the PANORAMIC IMAGE to check it out for yourself.)
Like the hoist foundation next door, this building also had a maintenance corridor running around its perimeter. In the center was a series of massive concrete foundations, accented with a collection of steel rods. This foundation was definitely used to support a large steam-powered engine of some type – a foundation this large would be built for nothing but. Since the hoist was already taken, the only option left was a compressor – used to create the compressed air needed to run the drills.
Whatever the building was originally used for, it was in sad shape today. Most of the building’s maroon colored concrete floor had collapsed into that perimeter corridor (like you can see above). Inside the corridor was only piles of debris, with nothing very specific discernible. The only evidence of the compressors which once sat here was a line of iron bolts scattered about the foundation which had been cut off a few inches from the concrete. Scrappers at it again.
We were able to find this small diameter pipe sticking out of shaft-facing wall, which might have been the pipe used to deliver the compressed air out to the shaft. This pipe would have run along those same utility trenches we noticed earlier, out to the shafthouse and down the shaft into the mine. Or this pipe could just be a pipe. Not sure.
With nothing else to see here, we turned our attention next door – to the hoist building.