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 Post subject: How to start exploring mines?
PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2010 2:44 pm 
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Hello,

I stumbled across this site today and was amazed at all the pictures and locations of mines in New York and New Jersey. I'm very impressed, thank you so much for putting this site together.

I was of course also inspired, and would love to visit some of these old mines, but I take the disclaimer on the site very seriously. I wouldn't know what I am doing and it would be very dangerous.

I live in NYC and think some of the mines would make great day trips. Are there any that are pretty "safe" for a beginner to explore? If not, are there groups trips or tours of specific mines that I could use to get started?

Thanks so much,
Geddes


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 12:27 pm 
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Location: Winnemucca, NV
Hello Geddes,

When in doubt, it is certainly best to observe a mine from the outside. Having said that, if you are intent on exploring an interior, to start make sure you wear an MSHA approved hard hat or caving helmet, have at least 3 forms of lighting, sturdy well fitting hiking shoes (non-slippery muck boots or waders if there is water), and most importantly, let someone know exactly where you are and when to expect your return. One form of lighting should be on your helmet so you may navigate hands-free. Also, never explore alone!

The mines shown on this site should provide an idea as what to expect. If you are visiting a mine not shown on the site, keep in mind potential dangers including but not limited to winzes (vertical or inclined openings driven downward from within the interior of a mine) which can also be flooded or covered with dirt or rotting wood, low oxygen or poisonous gases, steep or rocky terrain, and/or decaying timber supports. Now with all that said, I still feel safer in a mine than driving on Interstate 80. And while activities like skiing or biking are more dangerous, the dangers I listed are still real and should be taken very seriously. Common sense is key.

Pick up a copy of Ed Lenik's Iron Mine Trails for hiking directions to publicly accessible mines including Laurel Hill Mine (listed as Roomy Mine) and Dater's Exploration for starters. We do provide small private (unannounced) tours to hard rock mines when there is demand. Exclusive "lights-out" tours of PA's public tour mines are also given and advertised on the site.

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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:08 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:21 am
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Location: United States
Miner Mike wrote:
Hello Geddes,

When in doubt, it is certainly best to observe a mine from the outside. Having said that, if you are intent on exploring an interior, to start make sure you wear an MSHA approved hard hat or caving helmet, have at least 3 forms of lighting, sturdy well fitting hiking shoes (non-slippery muck boots or waders if there is water), and most importantly, let someone know exactly where you are and when to expect your return. One form of lighting should be on your helmet so you may navigate hands-free. Also, never explore alone!

The mines shown on this site should provide an idea as what to expect. If you are visiting a mine not shown on the site, keep in mind potential dangers including but not limited to winzes (vertical or inclined openings driven downward from within the interior of a mine) which can also be flooded or covered with dirt or rotting wood, low oxygen or poisonous gases, steep or rocky terrain, and/or decaying timber supports. Now with all that said, I still feel safer in a mine than driving on Interstate 80. And while activities like skiing or biking are more dangerous, the dangers I listed are still real and should be taken very seriously. Common sense is key.

Pick up a copy of Ed Lenik's Iron Mine Trails for hiking directions to publicly accessible mines including Laurel Hill Mine (listed as Roomy Mine) and Dater's Exploration for starters. We do provide small private (unannounced) tours to hard rock mines when there is demand. Exclusive "lights-out" tours of PA's public tour mines are also given and advertised on the site.


Mike,

You've got some really good advice there! One thing I was wondering about, though, what is the best way to guard against low oxygen levels? Over the years a number of people have succumbed to low oxygen. Mike Schriber of the Southern California group "Underground Explorers" warns against disturbing standing water in mines 'cause it can cause a sudden release of dissolved gas. Usually these gases are not poisonous - they just rob you of oxygen. Often the victim continues breathing normally and doesn't even realize anything is amiss and just loses consciousness.

Schriber has some good tips as well here: http://www.undergroundexplorers.com/safety1.htm

Schriber also says, like you hinted at, that very often the drive to mine is more dangerous than the mine itself. That statement actually says two things. One, that the hazards of exploring have been way, way overblown but two, it is also a very sad commentary on the sorry state of "modern" transportation in America.

Regards,
Fred M. Cain


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 Post subject: Re: How to start exploring mines?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:03 pm 
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Hi Fred,

The best option to guard against low oxygen levels is to carry a professional electronic gas detector with an O2 sensor. A gas detectors can also indicate combustible air (which often contains methane), carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide. However, expect to pay several hundred to several thousand dollars for one. You can spend far less if you buy one used but either way, it is important to make sure the sensors are working and fully calibrated. Also, never calibrate near a mine entrance as it may be exhausting dangerous gases and you will be calibrating the mine air as being normal air quality!

If a professional grade device is beyond your means (as it probably is for most people), you can also use a flame safety lamp just as the miners carried back in the old days. Although these are relatively primitive and no longer approved for use underground, a flame safety lamp can be made to work and will reliably detect low oxygen and combustible air. However, it is important that it works properly and is not damaged or missing parts. A few people on this forum have experience with flame safety lamps and could possibly provide tips and more info.

As for disturbing standing water and releasing a dangerous amount of dissolved gases, I have never experienced this throughout my many travels but sure, it is possible. Again, an oxygen detector will help you out here.

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 Post subject: Re: How to start exploring mines?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:53 pm 
how does a flame safety lantern work? can you post a picture of one?


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 Post subject: Re: How to start exploring mines?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:58 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 2:34 pm
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Location: Within 60 Miles of the Northern Anthracite Field
google is your friend........

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 Post subject: Re: How to start exploring mines?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:05 pm 
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But it is sooo easy to just ask the question. :twisted:


Didn't we cover safety lamps at some point? Maybe we need a FAQ.

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 Post subject: Re: How to start exploring mines?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:10 pm 
I believe you do!


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 Post subject: Re: How to start exploring mines?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 4:59 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 20, 2005 11:28 pm
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You can view some clear closeups of Miner Doog's Koehler flame safety lamp at http://www.ironminers.com/mineforum/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=22182. Also Chris posted up a diagram at http://www.ironminers.com/mineforum/viewtopic.php?t=1126.

You can also view us in action using the Koehler lamps at http://www.ironminers.com/mines/lehman-slope-179/.

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 Post subject: Re: How to start exploring mines?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:29 pm 
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Location: Within 60 Miles of the Northern Anthracite Field
ok, so ive had a few drinks so i guess ill talk about how it works........ thats how it goes usually :roll: basically, you adjust the wick for a 1" flame. if it goes lower youre in black damp. if it grows, gets a blue cap on it, or blows up inside the lamp youre in methane. its called a flame safety lamp because of the screens. if you get in a methane atmosphere, the gas will ignite inside the lamp, but not ignite the surrounding air. this is because the two screens or gausses cool the explosion and do not allow it to escape to the gassy atmosphere. this is usually not the problem in abandoned mines. usually the problem is blackdamp. blackdamp is a lack of oxygen created by the coal. coal is organic and absorbs the oxygen out of the air giving off co2. the natural nitrogen mixes with this co2 and creates blackdamp and displaces the oxygen rich air. there are certain times of the year where natural ventilation permits mine exploration from a gas safety standpoint as almost all abandoned mines are now ventilated naturally. if someone is going to enter an abandoned mine they must be familiar with the operation and proper use of a flame safety lamp and the natural ventilation of the abandoned mine they are about to enter...... it took us many, many years to learn how to read natural ventilation. we were so good at it in one particular mine, we could tell you to the foot where the flame safety lamp would go out from blackdamp at a certain time of year. a certain phrase comes to mind here......... good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement. 8)

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 Post subject: Re: How to start exploring mines?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:32 pm 
Just how many drinks and what type :?: :twisted:


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 Post subject: Re: How to start exploring mines?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:33 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 2:34 pm
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Location: Within 60 Miles of the Northern Anthracite Field
cool aid. 4

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 Post subject: Re: How to start exploring mines?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:34 pm 
I knew you'd say that! 8)


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