Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cherry Creek Asbestos Mining Operations

This morning we returned to the Asbestos Mine workings we'd passed yesterday on Cherry Creek Road. Jean and Larry were going to go with us this morning, but Murphy's Law came into play when were following behind them in our Jeep and noticed something hanging from beneath their Jeep. We called ahead to them on the radio and they pulled over to check. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a shock absorber hanging loose, one of the brackets holding it had broken. Since this wasn't going to be an easy trail fix, they had to turn back. We missed you guys!
Ralph & I decided to go on and make the trip. It was a fabulous morning, clear, crisp and cold, just the way we like it. We stopped just below Board Tree Saddle to take a photo of the mine off in the distance. We could also see a road that once ran from the top of the mountain, straight on down to the mine. It might have been used at one time to run a cable to haul ore carts up the mountainside. It would have been too steep for any kind of motor vehicle traffic, but possibly a mule could have made the trek.  
We parked the Jeep at the bottom of the mountain where the mines and workings are located and hiked up the steep trail leading to the mine works. Chunks of asbestos littered the entire area. Asbestos tailings were cascading down the steep hillsides. The ruins of the old mining site were quite extensive, mostly old boards, iron girders and heavy iron beams. There were a few rusted pieces of equipment left near the mining site. As best as we can tell by research, the mines were last in operation in the 1950s. We could see huge blocks of Asbestos still remaining in the mountainside. The walls of the workings were even made from Asbestos blocks, cut to fit and used to hold up the walls of the structures. After exploring the remains, we took a trail leading along a narrow ledge on the side of the mountain just past the workings and came across several mine adits. Since we weren't expecting to see actual tunnels, we didn't have our flashlights with us, so we only went into the tunnels a short distance. Even treading carefully, we could see Asbestos dust and fibers floating in the air inside the mine shafts. It's hard to imagine working in that environment all day long, every day.
Hiking up what was left of the road past the mines, we could see the road we'd spotted earlier from up near Board Tree Saddle. There were more piles of tailings and more Asbestos deposits, but we didn't explore any further today, we'll save that for another trip when we return with Jean & Larry & flashlights.
The peaceful shady glades along the trail were beautiful this morning. As we ate our sandwiches, we enjoyed the natural surroundings. Sunlight filtered through the trees, making dappled patterns on the rocky terrain. Cold mountain breezes were whispering through the pines...I know that sounds a bit trite, but the sound of the pine trees is truly a whisper. If we're really quiet and still, perhaps they'll whisper their secrets.