Last Sunday, because several people had colds, we didn’t go anywhere for church. Instead, we had a meeting at home (minus Gayle, because he’s in America spending a little time with his mother), and then packed a picnic lunch and headed off on an adventure that turned into a field trip! You know, that’s a disadvantage of being homeschooled. You never get a day off. Or, maybe it’s an advantage—depends on your perspective!
We decided to go explore Waiuta, where there use to be a gold mine. Gold-bearing quartz was discovered on this site in 1905, and at the peak there were 500 people living in the village that grew up around the Blackwater Shaft. In 1951, however, the shaft collapsed, according to a sign at the historical site, and within three months only 20 people were left. A year later, practically all the houses were gone, dismantled to be rebuilt elsewhere. We found it quite fascinating to wander around, studying the various posters that have been put up around the area, and the ruins that are left, trying to imagine the place in its heyday.
This is the road that goes out to Waiuta. First, you travel through open farmland in a valley.
You pass the old Blackwater School, in use from 1913 to 1949, according to the sign above the door.
Then, you drive through thick bush for awhile. A lot of places, it was thicker than this photo shows, with the trees meeting overhead.
We wondered if this trough was for watering horses back in the day?
At last, you come out in the open, and you have reached Waiuta. The building here was the carpenter’s shop for the mine; the smokestack had something to do with running the mine. Possibly steam power for raising and lowering men and rocks from the shaft, which was just to the right of this picture?
There are a lot of non-native plants around, left to go wild from the gardens the miners and their families had. This flowering currant was loaded with blossoms and humming with bees. Simon wants to go back in December and see if there is any fruit on it!
We followed this trail to the old swimming pool.
The swimming pool was about 36 meters long, according to my boys who stepped it off. The other end was quite deep.
Back to the mine site. This machine was used to crush the quartz so the gold could be extracted.
Part of the foundations of the building.
The old mine shaft.
Inside the chimney. Simon noticed that the bricks are stamped Brunner. One of our next field trips will be to the Brunner Mine site, between us and Greymouth. They also had brick kilns there, besides the coal mine.
I think this was the boiler room.
These bushes were in bloom. I don’t know what they were, but the scent was amazing!
Walking back up to the mine from the area where many of the miner’s houses were. The piles of rocks are tailings from the mine. The area on top has been smoothed and planted in grass. We ate lunch at the edge of the bowling green. It is amazingly flat, with very lush grass.
I took this picture to help us find our way around.
After we had explored the main area, we drove up the mountain to the Prohibition Mine. This was connected with the mine in the first area we explored, deep underground. From up here, it was 879.5 meters, or about half a mile, to the lowest level of the mine. The sign said that was below sea level! Men were lowered in a cage, and the quartz was brought back up the same way. It took four minutes to raise or lower the men, but the quartz was moved in half that time.
This was the mine office. Someone has cut a hole in the door of the strong room, and my little ones crawled in.
The view across the Grey Valley from the Prohibition Mine was incredible!
This is what is left of the building in which they extracted the gold. It was built between 1937-39, and I presume it was only in operation until 1951, when the mine closed.
This turned out to be a great way to spend an afternoon when we couldn’t be with other people! It was a beautiful day, and a very interesting site. And, I didn’t know she was doing it, but Esther published a post today about this trip, as well. You can see her pictures here.