The old Michigan Mine property is a literal mine field, encompassing the shafts from not only the Michigan, but also the Minesota, Superior, Rockland, and National Mines as well. In total several dozen old mine shafts are littered across the rugged landscape, creating a rather perilous hike for those unaware of the dangers. Thankfully the mine inspector has placed quite a few warning about to help the unsuspecting, signs like the one seen above. But for all the uncapped and unmarked shafts, the bluffs are also home to a few more celebrated shafts – those lucky enough to receive the coveted “bat cage” treatment.
If you continue on past the Michigan’s final shaft – the “C” – you soon come across this interesting structure sitting right alongside the trail. For those that have followed this site for a while now, this particular structure is something we’ve seen a few times before on our journey’s. I like to call it a bat cage, but its technical term is unknown to me. The important thing to remember is the purpose that it serves, allowing bats living in the mine’s old workings to enter and leave their subterranean home at will.
I’m not sure of exactly how the whole process works, but I can only assume that these angled slats make for some easy egress for our flying friends. Unlike other similar cages we have found in the past, this particular model was placed far closer to the ground. Usually these things are placed a good five to six feet up atop a iron cylinder.
In addition to the bat cage, this particular shaft also featured a covering of rails laid over the rest of its massive opening, which allowed you to peer down into the abyss rather intimately. We weren’t sure of the shaft’s identity, though it’s location could have placed it at either the old Rockland Mine or the old Superior. I suppose it also could belong to the Michigan itself.
Nervous about dropping my camera down the hole, I made a few half-hearted attempts to shoot down the shaft but only got a few mediocre shots for my work. Interestingly, it looked as if the iron rails were the first covering for this shaft, and the bat cage was added much later. That’s because just under the bat cage covering you can see where the old iron rails were simply cut off. I wonder just how new this cage really is?