Not so much a view from the top of a mountain, but a view of the inside of a mountain.
We decided to take a break from the Fire Tower List and try something a little different. We have hiked on the top of so many mountains, we figured we should starting hiking 'inside' a few. Paddock Copper Mine opened in 1875 and had 2 shafts, Shaft 1 and Shaft 2 which had been known as the Ore and Osgood opening before then.
We were at Gardner Ridge last weekend for #90 on the fire tower list and started looking for this mine after our hike, but had no luck. We were with our friends on that ridge and we ended up meeting another adventure seeker who was also looking for the mine. All last week we all combined our research and resources then decided to meet on Sunday to try to find the mines. We parked on the side of Under the Mountain road and followed old logging roads to begin our search. There are a lot of logging roads and trails there. The locals were helpful with tips to help find the mine. It took us about 45 minutes to reach the first shaft with decent directions. The weather wasn't great, but considering there was 70% chance of rain and all it did was spit at us a couple times, we feel we lucked out. At the opening of the Shaft 1, there are foundation remains and artifacts. We checked them out before venturing into the mine.
As we entered the mine all I could think of was, "This is one COOL place!!!!" I felt sort of like a kid in a candy store with this find. We were able to stand straight up the whole way through the shaft. We have been in other caves and mines before, but this one is by far the best one yet. We had headlamps, flashlights and a lantern too, so we were able to light the place up pretty good. High boots were necessary as the floor varies from dry to almost 10" of water in some areas. Where the water was the highest we stayed to the side of the shaft to avoid water pouring in our boots, the center was a lot deeper.
We seen some reports on this mine where people claim they went at least 1500' long before they turned back. I'd love to say that is true, but it's not, at least not in our opinion. Saying it is 500' long may be a stretch and that is only if it connects into the Shaft 2 at some point. There is an end and when we got to it we wondered if there was a cave-in, but it looks more like it may have been filled in to prevent further exploration of the mine.
Shaft 2 is not located in the same area as Shaft 1 and when we got to it, we realized that we would not be exploring it as it would need to repelled in to and it was just too wet to do that, so we'll save that for another day. Funny thing was that we saw a long piece of heavy rope on our bushwhack up to Gardner Ridge last weekend and couldn't figure out why it was there. Seeing how we were close to this shaft and never saw the opening then, now we understand what that rope 'could' be used for.
The other thing about Paddock Mine that we came across in research was that it became home to the second largest bat hibernacula in New Hampshire. That was back in 2011 though and since then, the bat population is almost nonexistent in there now. There is a disease called White Nose Syndrome that causes a high rate of deaths in many of the common bat species. We saw 3 bats on our journey, 1 was dead and the other 2 were sleeping, so we let them be. There was over 3000 at one time.
As for our safety, we did leave detailed information on where we were trying to get to along with an old map of the area with our son. If he didn't hear from us by a certain time, he was to contact the authorities. This mine is well over 100 years old and being in it, under a mountain...well maybe I've seen too many movies, but still safety first.