I live in a region that is peppered with abandoned mine shafts. The Little Long Lac Gold Camp celebrated its heyday in the late 1930s, giving birth to the new town of Geraldton. Beardmore and Jellicoe also had their glory days. Prospecting trenches and pits and old shafts are scattered across the bush. In the case of shafts, most of them have been identified and capped, usually with a concrete pad. Some pads have deteriorated with time, and they are far from safe for the tourist. I visited one the other day that is covered with rotting boards, those boards probably dating back to the ‘30s. Some shafts have not been seen for decades, and may well be yawning open.
How deep are these shafts? Well, the deepest is around 2,500 feet. However, you do not necessarily ride a cushion of air before you hit dead bottom. All the old mine workings have flooded with groundwater. In some cases, water has risen to within metres of surface. Still, a fall would be an unpleasant experience, especially if you cannot scale the slippery walls, and more so if you hit timbers and other obstructions on the way down.
I am publishing an updated version of “Muskeg Tours”, describing the changes that have happened since its publication in 1987. The book provides armchair tours of the historic Little Long Lac Gold Camp. It will feature GPS coordinates of all known mine shafts, and photographs of the various locales. The release of “Muskeg Tours 2010” will be announced on www.whiskyjackpublishing.com.
Maybe you thought the title of this post had metaphorical implications. Well, I didn’t say it didn’t.