After scaling the stamp sand cliffs along the shore, we found ourselves standing on the lip of a vast barren landscape known as the Gay Sands. Of course we have been to these sands before, but each time their vast size and scope never fail to impress us. In the distance the soaring concrete stack from the old mill looks down proudly on its dominion. Off to the south the sands spread far out and over the horizon – seemingly going on forever. And directly to our north stretches a row of concrete battlements – the remains of the mill’s old launder and our subject for the day.
From the beach the launder was a good ten feet above our heads, but here it’s top was level with the sands. The only parts of the structure clearly visible above the sands were the dozen or so concrete “battlements” rising up from the launder in constant intervals. These battlement seemed to have once been capped with something, since a series of iron rods protruded out of their tops.
Looking down into the top of the battlement we could see right down into the hallow interior of the launder box below. If the launder itself housed some type of conveyor system, then these battlements must have been used as some type of maintenance access point.
Following the battlements towards the mill we ended up atop a long wall, which lead away from the launder in both directions and gently tapered down to a point. In its center was the opening to the launder itself – now at ground level. This must have been the start of the sand conveyor and the walls part of the old sand house. This would be the building where the tailings from the mill were raised up to the level of this launder and then dumped down onto the conveyor. From here the sand would be carried down the launder’s length and dumped off its end along the cliffs.
Looking back along the launder we could finally appreciate its impressive length. About half way up its length it looked as if it had broken in two, with its near end shifted a foot over to the left. The battlements themselves were all in varying states of collapse – with a few missing all together. It was then – looking out over the sands – that we first saw it.
From here it looked like pieces of driftwood sitting out atop a short hill of sand. But their was far too many pieces concentrated in one spot to be placed naturally. Whatever it was it had been placed their by man – so off we went to investigate.
The closer we got the more apparent it was that what we were looking at was not just a collection of driftwood. Scattered along the bleached pieces of wood were the signs of a man-made structure such as this concrete footing. Attached to its top was what looked like an iron strap, and a few feet away a collection of four threaded bolts set in a square pattern. These were ruins.
Nearby were a series of these interesting tidbits as well. We tried pulling up on them but they wouldn’t budge, and were no doubt connected to something below the sands. The top parts were threaded, which made us think that they were once attached to something here above the sands.
It was when we discovered this that we understood what we were looking at. These white bleached boards were sitting in a row, which reminded us of the similarly bleached wooden chute we found down on the beach protruding out of the cliff. Taking a hike back to it we could tell the chute and these boards were lined up perfectly. What we were looking at was the remains of a second launder.
This launder’s existence could be due to one of two reasons. Assuming the concrete launder belonged to the Mohawk Mill we could assume this one belonged to the Wolverine Mill (which sat next door to the Mohawk Mill). But since I believe the two mills shared a common sand house and launder, it makes more sense to assume that this wooded structure was an early launder which once served the mills. It was then later replaced by the more modern concrete conveyor system found next door. This reason makes more sense to me so I’ll stick with that.
Looking back down the remains of the wood launder, it made a B-line right to the towering stack in the distance and the mill ruins at its base. That would be our next stop…