Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Looking for the Old Beban Coal Mine

I took a short ride to find the old Beban Coal Mine today.  I entered at Doumont Trail, rode Blackjack Ridge's lower valley to Nanaimo River Road and made my way on blacktop up to South Forks and Nanaimo Lakes Road to find the entry gate shown at the top of the light blue line.

Dark blue - Logging Road that Runs the length of Mt Benson (SE, rear side).  Light Blue - Intended route entering from Nanaimo Lakes Road.  Pink - My GPS track 

The gate was very well blocked with large rocks and so I made my way SE, looking for a way in.  I eventually found a narrow gap between two rocks at 49.107337° -123.998888° and continued south to the mine site.

My entry point into the trails

The mine site - letters correspond to the photos below:
a.  I'm not sure what this is, although it looks like nothing more that a shelving unit, (feet on left side).  It's in very good condition and looks to be a little too new to be a mine site artifact, although there is little other reason for it to be there.    Probably Beban's personal Scotch whisky stash.  None left!  :(
b.  Threaded rods protruding from a building foundation

c.  Difficult to see here with the thick undergrowth all around.  This is a deep vertical shaft.  It's marked off with a scrawny bit of lumberman's tape
d.  Deep Shaft
e.  Same deep shaft.  Very loose ground and a very deep hole, so this is the best I can do I'm afraid.  :)
f.  This is the same shaft, but I backed up to see the marking tapes.
g.  Chunk o' anthracite coal.  Lots of this stuff kicking around
h.  Remnants of some old piece of equipment
i.  The obligatory junked car photo. 
j.  Tailings pile
 k.  (no photo)  Another shaft... filled.

It struck me after I had left the site that the original "Beban Mine" waypoint that I lifted from Wikipedia, (seen on the photo with all those yellow letters above), is likely the location of another shaft.  The Beban Mine was in the news during the sixties when a boy had ventured into the mine and was unable to get out.  He died in the mine.  This mine, as I understand it, went in off a slope, and I'm guessing that had I searched this Wikipedia waypoint I would have found that shaft.  GOOD... I have a reason to return on another ride!

**BE WARNED:  If you head into this area, keep your eyes fixed on the ground.  There are numerous vertical shafts and all are covered with thick undergrowth during the spring and summer.  It looks like logging crews have marked trees for cutting or leaving, but aside from their tape, little has been done to call attention to the shafts.  In addition, the ground is loose and crumbly near shaft edges.  Be careful!  ;)

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