While brainstorming possible places to go for this assignment, I remembered a particular hunting trip a few years ago, when my dad and I drove over the side of mountain and came across an old mining settlement. It made such an impression on me at the time that I decided it would be worth the drive to Mackay to check it out again–partly for pictures, partly because I was sick of homework and just wanted to go adventuring.
And I wasn’t disappointed. There was so much more there than I had expected, spread out all over the hills and into the mountains. Old mining buildings, an old wooden tramway system, cabins…it had it all.
- A lot of the structures were so aged and skeletal that they didn’t stand out against the hills and trees behind them. So, as you can see in the pictures, I frequently chose a lower perspective so that the buildings would stand out against the sky (which, luckily, was moody and had some texture.)
- I didn’t bring gloves because I’m apparently in denial that it’s November already, so my hands kept getting cold and stiff. Although…in a way I think this actually benefited me, because I had such a small amount of time to take pictures that I took them a little more carefully.
- The main structure spooked me out a little bit because its big metal panels would swing and creak in the wind, usually after a long quiet pause.
So, here they are!
Cables used to be strung through these wooden structures, creating a tramway that could transport (primarily) copper ore down the mountain. (To mimic the way history sometimes feels small and distant, I tucked the tramway into the bottom of the frame.)
This is one of those structures up close. I believe the cargo would pass through the top half on either side, with one cable going up the mountain and the other going down.
This is the main structure at the White Knob Historic Mining Site. At one point, it was the compressor building that generated steam to power the miners’ equipment, but now it’s just a hollow ruin. (I thought it was trippy to look up from the outside and see trees in the upstairs windows.)
This is also a part of the compressor building. (I added this picture because I felt like it symbolically represented the general vibe of the place, past and present…bent over and weathered, but stubborn.
This is the mouth of the Cossack Tunnel, just to the left of the compressor building. Apparently, miners dug over 20 miles of tunnel during the area’s operation (1879 to 1949.)
This was the home of Haniel S. Taylor and his family from 1908 to 1943. From here, they operated a sawmill and helped with mining. This particular site also included several other structures, including a blacksmith shop, a bunkhouse, and a cook-shack.
This site, the Horseshoe mine, was just over the hill from the Taylor’s home. It was a bit more modern, with building made of metal rather than wood. The last activity in the area was 1978.
This site didn’t have anything to do with mining, necessarily. At least, not in a literal sense. I just like the idea that pre-existing things shape the paths taken by the present, like a road around a power pole.
This was some sort of engine room in the Horseshoe Mine site.
I have no idea what this building was, although there was a mysterious track leading into the right-side door…I suspect the entrance to the mine is behind the pipe.
This was part of the smelter site ruins right on the edge of Mackay. The buildings here have been converted into self-tour museums.
This isn’t the most well-exposed photograph, but I thought this truck just had so much personality–like, if it were a person, it would be a tall old gentleman with a mustache, overalls, and a cigarette.
I chose to make this the last one because it’s almost the inverse of the first one, at least to my interpretation. In the first one, I imagined the sky representing the present. In this one, I feel like the sky is the past looming over the present.