Wednesday, May 21, 2008


The old North Kearsarge No. 1 rockhouse in greyscale.

A foundation of the old North Kearsarge No. 1 rockhouse.

I like the feeling of finding an abandoned mine: It reminds me of how much things change. Standing next to an abandoned mine shaft or a ruined hoist evokes the hundreds of people, stores, houses, hoists, engines, and railroads -- an entire town -- which existed only because of this mine. Now, it's just a few rocks, maybe some boards, or a bit of barbed wire.

The truly abandoned mines are the ones that really get me. I don't mean places like Quincy -- those buildings are being cared for and even restored. Not Mohawk, Centennial, or other places a bit off the beaten path. What I mean are places like Copper Falls, where there are shafts and ruins which are almost completely forgotten. I once found a Copper Falls shaft utterly lost in the woods, totally unmarked and unregarded, all alone. It was once the focus of an entire little civilization, and now there are perhaps a half dozen people who even know where it is.

North Kearsarge is halfway there. The mine is about a mile out of town, down an old two-track and well hidden in the woods. The rock pile next to the No. 1 is gigantic, with amazing views from the top. The shaft that went with the rockhouse is so well abandoned that I nearly walked right over it on my way around the pile -- unmarked, just a few rocks on the ground and some fallen barbed wire. I think that this photo evokes just a little bit of that feeling that I'm talking about.

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