Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Abandonment Issues: Marmoraton Magnetite Mine
Descending into pitch blackness, that's where i found myself at the end of the video. Concrete chunks crunched under my feet. Concrete chunks that once made up a substantial portion of the outer wall. An outer wall once barricaded by thick metal bars. But no more. Apparently between my two visits to the Marmora Mine, someone somehow removed the bars and destroyed a sizable portion of the wall. Fortunately, it was a jerm-sized hole. Once inside, the scattered remains of concrete chunks rested atop the rusted metal staircase, and menacingly thudded to the ground below with bellowing echoes, as my feet blindly kicked them over the edge. I descended all three stories of darkness, alone, but i'm getting ahead of myself.
This past Sunday, the weather was all over the map, much like we have been of late. Waves of light snowfall glistened in the small rays of sunshine peeking through a dark cloud cover. Occasionally, a remarkably blue sky revealed itself for a few brief moments, only to be swallowed up by the blackening clouds, again and again. Massive clusters of icicles were clinging to the walls of the open pit.
The buildings themselves are merely shells of rusted metal and a conveyor belt, wrapped in yellow fragments of shattered asbestos siding. It appears that vandalism by rocks is the likely culprit for the broken asbestos siding. Most likely youths that were unaware that it was made of asbestos and that asbestos is only harmful when it is disturbed.
The long hallway into the sky houses a conveyor belt and a walkway. The conveyor belt is still somewhat in tact, but the walkway has been dismantled in some places to discourage people from climbing it. My fear of heights can be paralyzing at times, and this day had a couple of frightful scares. I ascended the long hallway into the sky, climbing and maneuvering through welded metal obstructions, and hanging on for dear life as i traversed the areas where the walkway has been removed. As i got too high for comfort, i started to rush, that's when it happened. A large piece of metal fell to the ground in front of me, a grate from the walkway. I froze in full-on panic mode, watching it fall for seconds and then disappear completely into the deep snow. I held on so tight that i could feel the cold of the metal bars through my gloves. Then i turned around, scared, and ever so slowly descended the long hallway to the ground.
Inside the building with the jerm-sized hole, several large machine parts were left to rust. Above the hole, there is a control room with a green door, that can be climbed up into.
And so here i was, descending into blackness. The first floor down was illuminated by the holes at the top of the staircase, beyond that, the darkness and nothingness overwhelms. Me clicking my flashlight on and off in some sort of mental masturbation. Pointing my camera into pitch blackness and shooting whatever happened to be in frame.
Here's where the other scare took place. After going through this doorway and turning right, i came across a set of closed green doors with shattered windows. As i pushed them open simultaneously and stepped forward into this new room i quickly realized that there was no floor and it was a straight drop into the room below. I spun around, reaching out my arms, and my camera swung around my neck and smacked me in the chin. I thought about my mom in the following moments, spanking me with a strip of plastic race car track because i was doing something stupid. The cameras parenting technique was not heeding results however, as i ignored its plea, and continued traveling downward.
Around the corner and up a short ladder, the light completely disappeared. With the click of my flashlight i found myself standing on a mound of dirt with a wheelbarrow rusting to the point of disintegration before me. Around another corner my flashlight caught something huge, a rusted machine with a ladder, which of course i had to climb.
Continuing downward I realized that this machine was three stories deep underground, and was connected to a large spinner on the ground floor, high above. Pitch blackness and rusted metal machinery was all that was to be seen on the lower floors. Well, that and the frozen mass of water leaking in through the ground from the open pit lake that is directly adjacent. The conveyor belt also connects here.
I ascended slowly, with very little use of my flashlight. Brief flashes followed by tentative footsteps, growing evermore confident. I started to jog when i saw the light beyond the wheelbarrow, then remembered about the wheelbarrow, which i would have tripped over if i hadn't stopped. Down the ladder, up the stairs, into the light, around the corner, up the stairs, into the light, through the hole, I kissed my wife.
After an hour or so of photographing and exploring further on ground level, we began the trek down the rounded hill of the open pit. Since the mines closure, underground streams and accumulation of rainwater have filled two-thirds of the open pit. In fact, it is now officially classified as a lake. The snow was much deeper on the haulage roads into the pit, which slowed us down. The frozen waterfalls of icicles were very blue when viewed up close, a sign of the oxygen within.
This sign that is conveniently located on site has all the information about the mines history.
here are some more photos from the Marmora Mine...
After standing vacant for decades, the remaining buildings at the Marmora Mine site were demolished in the summer of 2014.
click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES