The quest to increase my pallet of locality-based colours lead me to Cobalt, Ontario for the weekend. The opportunity to do this came to me by way of Reiner and Maggie, who had planned the weekend with another rockhounder, Robert, and they invited me to come along.
Cobalt is a town with an amazing history. Roughly a century ago there were hundreds of active mines that produced nearly 1000 tons of silver yearly. It was one of the largest silver producing areas in the world! But, by 1930 all this activity was almost all gone and today only the foundations of the great mining buildings remain along side the great gashes into the earth where the silver was mined.
My own interest in trekking up to this area are the cobalt bearing minerals which gave the town it’s name, but there may be some other surprises too and finding a little silver would be a lot of fun.
Our trip north took 8 hours. Once there we made arrangements at a local motel for our accommodations and then went for a tour of the general area visiting North Cobalt, Haileybury and New Liskeard before stopping for a little supper. After dinner we headed back into Cobalt and Reiner gave us an introductory tour of some of the mines. Reiner’s history in this area goes back a long way. He was introduced to collecting in the area by his father, and even worked a summer in the mines years ago, so the maze of little used roads were straightforward to him.
It is an odd sensation to stand upon ground that was once a busy beehive of activity. Especially when only hints like a pile of rocks, or part of foundation, remain. I think that some people would talk about the echo or ghosts of such an area … but, given that the area’s excitement and enterprises properly belongs to a forgone era, I found myself standing on these sites feeling like I was the ghost. My present was only a small insignificant part of the area’s history and if such a place remembers it’s history as a culmination of times remembered (identifying itself by looking both backward and forward in time) my own presence is only a fleeting shadow compared to those of the past.