Tag Archives: Zinc Mines

Hunting the Secrets of the North Shore: The Old Mines of Lynn Headwaters

***A word of warning***

Exploring mines is an inherently dangerous activity. The author encourages you to heed all warning signs and take all precautions! Do not enter open mine adits!

 

Last Saturday, Doug, Alex, and I set out to search for some of the hidden mines in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. It had been something we had all wanted to do for quite some time, but other objectives had gotten in the way up until then.

While not strictly a secret, it’s not commonly known that during the period of 1900- 1940, a number of claims were prospected in the Lynn, Norvan, and Hanes Creek drainages. From what I have read, it was mostly iron, copper, and zinc that were discovered, but no doubt more precious metals like silver and especially gold were the real objectives.

10952450_358469987694738_8018352032809127148_n
View from Third Debris Chute in Lynn Headwaters. I sometimes call this spot the gateway to adventure!

Doug had obtained a map from fellow North Shore Rescue companion Wally, who had visited the area some years ago with local mountaineering legend Howie Rode. Our plan was to hike the Headwaters Trail to the bridge at roughly the 5 km mark, check out the camp near that location, and then climb up the creek draw east of the bridge in search of whatever else we could find.

The first part of our trek was easy enough, a rambling on mostly flat ground. The trail was alive with dozens of runners on their way up to Norvan Falls, a popular weekend destination. Most of them would have little clue that the trail they were running on was once a thriving lifeline for both logging and mining operations. Today, Lynn Headwaters, a former watershed until 1981, is one of the jewels of Greater Vancouver’s wilderness parks.

11039147_358470304361373_2471628015311752931_n
Ore Cart

The ore cart you see above is one of easiest artifacts to locate in the area. I stumbled upon it years ago while hunting old growth trees in the area long before I even knew about mining in Lynn Valley. It is only about ten metres off the trail at around the 4.7 km mark. All that remains are the axles and some attached hardware, as the decks have long since returned to the earth, so to speak. There  is a nearby pile of ore tailings and supposedly a mine adit too but we were unable to find the actual minesite.

10930124_358470677694669_3057281420602292379_n
Doug, putting navigational skills to use

Within sight of the ore cart is another guilty pleasure of mine; one of the most unusual trees in the entire park! It’s a tree with a legend, too, as the story goes a group of loggers were in the process of falling it and another nearby tree, when an accident occurred that took the lives of two men. It was decided that they would leave the tree to stand, with all its cuts, and it still survives today. It’s well over 500 years old now, and truly defies adversity. I like to call it The Survivor.

11025819_358470841027986_67969241196204572_n
The Survivor!

1545571_358471027694634_3553529918145186770_n

Sometimes when I look at it I can’t believe it hasn’t toppled just yet, and I hope that day never comes!

11059254_358470924361311_8779662966899451146_n
A true giant!

There was a time when Western Redcedars between twelve and sixteen feet in diameter and up to a thousand years old were commonplace here. When the Cedar Mills Logging Company plied its trade here, the fallers were very thorough. I have hunted almost all of the park’s drainages on the east side of Lynn Creek and found very few ancient trees.

Now, back to our quest for the mines! We crossed the bridge upstream and began climbing up the south bank. The terrain was typical of the area; we needed to gain but a couple hundred metres but the grades were unforgivingly steep. You also had to be careful not to cliff yourself out, trap yourself in a sharp ravine, or get stuck climbing over deadfall. All good clean fun of course.

Not far up from the trail we found quite a few relics, like this shovel head, piping, and old gas can. The men who worked these slopes were tough and dedicated. Packing cast iron up mountains like this was no easy trick.

485530_358471207694616_7250423608686847121_n

 

The hook we found, here at left, was I think used for logging purposes as you can see some wire rope cable is buried beside it. I thought it would make an amazing movie prop for a Halloween movie of some kind. What do you think?

11025831_358471364361267_3235867521783952709_n

Next we traversed north toward the next creek drainage at about the 500 metre level in search of a possible camp.Some coal burn remains were found as well as a number of cast iron rails and stove parts. Again, the act of lugging all those parts uphill and assembling them must have been an onerous task indeed!

10928170_358471641027906_3336133720487625619_n
Stove plate

10440766_358471767694560_3444454884184836892_n

 

There were also cast iron pipes found here, and some apothecary bottles. Alex, also a North Shore Rescue volunteer as Doug is, regaled me with tales of his youth in England that included digging for artifacts under cover of darkness. Hunting for hidden history had long been an avid interest of his. Europe, of course, offers centuries more to discover than our reasonably short recorded heritage here in North Vancouver.

Doug’s thought was to cross the next creek canyon because the map indicated several finds on the adjacent cliffs. This involved fighting our way up another steep spine and making a careful crossing over slick rock. We were all glad that there had been very little recent rainfall.

Less than five minutes away, we knew we were on to something when we saw this sign. While the guys approached from above, I climbed up from below, and saw what I thought was either a work platform or a cabin base.

11042666_358471791027891_4511165745397572392_n

10458485_358472217694515_6213161165175183747_n

 

The platform had long been covered by trees and dirt but there was a mound of tailings beside it. From above, Doug and Alex announced with excitement that they had found a mine!

Alex was the first to have a closer look. he discovered that there was a shaft opening beneath the floorboards that went down quite a way. This was not a place to trifle with, as by dropping a rock inside we guessed that it was water filled and well over ten feet deep!

11008613_358471867694550_7529761374840104351_n

1623553_358471984361205_8835341795084294265_n

The ground above the mine was extremely steep. We wondered aloud exactly why this spot had been chosen, of all places. It must have been those dreams of untold riches that drive men to prospect. It was something well beyond the modest possibilities found here, we were certain.

10502212_358471904361213_1925921263038781576_n

 

The timbers were in amazing condition, considering how long they had been abandoned, and you could see that they had been notched, perhaps to accomodate some kind of pulley system and or a winch to bring the ore up. Deep in the mine opening, on the right, there was even a partly finished scupture of a face.

11058500_358472121027858_8568712275981204512_n

 

It was, at the end of the day, some time very well spent. It was soon that we departed, recrossed the creek, and tried to work our way south to the creek canyon we’d started in. We gave up that venture when we realized we would run out of time, so we plunged downhill, reaching the trail and its hordes of humanity in just minutes, hiking homeward on a perfect spring afternoon.

10710882_358472351027835_3979002958900262234_n

 

Advertisements