I try to visit Cobalt a couple of times a year, at least. This year, I had just a short visit in September and then a longer visit in October. The weather was perfect and I was able to collect some good silver and purchase specimens from some dedcated local collectors. Here are some photo's and descriptions of parts of the trip.
We spent a solid day in the mines at South Lorrain Township. We also visited the Cobalt Mining Museum, in Cobalt. There are some fantastic displays of silver and artifacts there, if you are ever in town! Here are a few pictures from South Lorrain Township and of the Cobalt Mining Museum.
This old picture from 1920 or so, shows the bottom of the lake with open stopes criss-crossing through it. I'll bet there is some pretty good high-grade laying around there yet under all that water!
Kerr Lake was lowered by eight feet, in 1907, in order to best locate the Crown Reserve Mine shaft. In 1913, the miners decided to totally drain the lake of water and sediments to safely and eficiently mine the veins that lay underneath it. Here is the location of the capped shaft, by the side of the present lake and an old cage has been located right beside it for effect. You can see the foundation for one of the headframe braces in the foreground.
From 1915-1917, a total of 600,000,000 gallons of water and silt were removed from Kerr Lake. In 1955, it was allowed to fill to its current level.
Here is a picture of the old Crown Reserve hoist drum with cable still attached.
There is still a lot of waste rock at the Keeley Mine site. Here is a picture of yours truly up on the dump using my metal detector. We did find some interesting pieces here. Hard work, though. The visit report continues on "Page Two".
The silver veins in and around Kerr Lake were prolific sources of native silver in the heyday of the Cobalt Camp. You can still find chunks of silver and arsenides around the shore of the lake, particularly if you have a metal detector. This picture shows my friend Roger Smirle trying to detect metals along the shore.
Same with the old Lawson Mine headframe and shafthouse. It has rotted badly and will soon fall over.
These mines were not large. As Roger is demonstrating, you would be hard-pressed to fit eight men in the cage.
If you drive between Cobalt and Haileybury, you will see the sign for the road to Silver Centre in the Lorrain Valley (South Lorrain Township). In the heyday of Cobalt, Silver Centre was a bustling town serving the Keeley, Frontier, Trout Lake and Wetlauffer Mine, amongst others. Today, Silver Centre is a ghost town with very little evidence that it actually existed. Nice of them to keep the sign up all these years considering there is no town at Silver Centre any more!
The old Silverfields Mine headframe is starting to look a little worse for wear. I'm afraid that it will fall down any time now. Such a shame for this monument to a great silver mine to go this way.
We had perfect weather for our trip to "Silver Centre". Actually, we did visit and collect at the Keeley and Wetlauffer Mines. This picture shows you some of the very nice fall scenery in South Lorrain Township.
We do run across wildlife on occasion. Lots of painted turtles in the area. Here is one checking me out!
This interesting display shows some superb leaf and crystallized silver specimens positioned around the Cobalt mayor's chain of office. When required, the chain of office is removed from the museum for official duties of the mayor and replaced when not in use. Note the specimen in the top left hand corner? It is a beautifully crystallized specimen of silver from the Mann Mine, Gowganda. I'll show you a close-up in the next picture.
I got a kick out of this antique sign in the museum. I worked in the explosives business for many years.
One interesting display at the Cobalt Mining Museum is this collage of pictures of many of the headframes that once stood in the Cobalt Camp. Many have fallen down, burned or been torn down, now
This is all that remains of the once mighty Keeley Mine. The headframe has toppled over, now. Lots of rock dump right beside it!
If you sit on the Keeley Mine dump to eat lunch, this is the scenery in the fall across the old tailings pond. A nice combination of conifers, birch, maple and ash.
Here is a close-up of that superb Mann Mine piece. About a foot across. Wow!
Right across the road from the museum is a monument to the many mines and their managers that produced silver in Cobalt over the years. Over 100 of them!
The Cobalt Mining Museum had many interesting displays. Here is a working model of a headframe, complete with shive wheel and moving cage. You are the hoist! Lots of other artifacts throughout the museum
Here's Roger Smirle on the tailgate of his SUV with our haul of silver and arsenides in the back. Many will not turn out to be much but you really don't know untill they are cleaned up and trimmed or sawn. They all produced a signal on the metal detectors, though!
We ran into this fellow, a ruffed grouse on the way into the Wetlauffer Mine. We didn't see any people at all!
The Cobalt Mining Museum is loaded with old photos of some of the old mining operations from their heydays. Pictures such as this one of the Temiskaming Mine show that each was like a small town with mill, headframe, bunkhouses offices, shops and many other buildings.