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June 1990

Cranberry Iron Mine

This is just inside the entrance to the Cranberry Mine looking out. The mine shaft (a road) goes behind us here, basically in a straight line. It's kind of hard to tell from this photo but the last operation used trucks to haul ore out. These trucks were backed down the hill from the left and around that column with the hole in it back to a ledge where ore was dumped in from above. The trucks were then driven back out up that steep curving hill and to conveyors that dropped it to the separating equipment at the mine buildings. It was processed and driven out to the highway and taken for further processing.

The mine shaft itself pretty much goes straight behind us for a little less than a mile. It climbs about 80 feet in that distance so the ore could be moved to the entrance by gravity. There are still lots of ties in the tunnel, especially on small grades where the trucks used them for traction. The floor in most of the tunnel is wet but made of crushed ore. A few places were muddy, but I think the mud had washed in from above through air vents during heavy rains. Ahead and to the right, the mine drops off to a slightly lower level that is permanently flooded with a few feet of water. That is the level of the main mine entrance from outside, and the one in which the "dinky" locomotive operated.

The mine is approximately 50 degrees all year, and during the summer cool air comes out of the mine and fills the large excavated hole outside this entrance. It's like natural air conditioning outside the mine. In the far reaches of the mine, bats cling to the ceiling, which is sometimes only head high, and sometimes around 50 feet high. It is a very interesting place to visit, although it is posted and has been fenced to protect the over-wintering bats.

Copyright 2017 Chris H. Ford. All Rights Reserved.