Click on any picture to enlarge!
At the entrance off Leadmine Road are at least four visitor parking spaces at the beginning of the 1-1/2 mile loop trail. If you decide to venture out in the dead of winter, you will be treated to spectacular views of what nature has to offer and this free of charge! Right a the beginning of the trail is a mineshaft to your right, abandoned almost hundred years ago. The still open shaft will surprise you with a natural spectacle created by mother nature, Upside-down icicles!
As we know, frost only penetrates the ground approximately 3 feed deep. Inside this mineshaft it is therefore well above the freezing point. Cold heavier air flows an the bottom of the shaft into the mine as warmer lighter air exits the mineshaft along the ceiling of the shaft, thus preventing icicles from forming in the normal familiar way! Nature never ceases to amaze me.. I wonder how close the icicles will ever get to the top due to the warm air preventing the water dripping from the ceiling to freeze.
According to the website of the Trustees of Reservations, ”the mineshaft that tunnels into the face of the low ridge is the most recent of all the excavations, dating to 1902.” Click here, the read about the history of Tantiusques.
Follow the yellow marks on the trees so you don’t get lost. If the snow is deeper than 10” I would recommend snowshoes.
Today, careful observers can still see the mine cuts, ditches, and tailings piles made by the various mining operations during the distant past.
The next picture shows clearly one of the ditches (dark spot underneath the pine tree) in the upper left and the tailing pile in the foreground on the right.
The following three pictures were taken inside the ditch that lays beyond the dark spot in the previous picture.
Here is a picture of one of the trench cuts still visible:
Most of the mining at Tantiusques was of the open trench variety. The cut along the top of the ridge is the partially filled-in remainder of what was once a several thousand foot-long trench, 20 to 50 feet in depth and roughly 6 feet in width, which followed the vein of graphite.
Saturday January 9, 2010, the snow cover was only about 6 to 8” deep and the 1-1/2 mile trail was an easy hike. My girlfriend lost her designer sunglasses (women..) and I went back this past Saturday to look for them as most of the snow was gone due to the above freezing temperatures.
First I checked the upside-down icicles and noticed that they actually grew in height about 2 inches since my last visit. I took a picture to compare it with the pictures I took the prior Saturday.
I found the lost sunglasses on the side of the trail and turned around to go back to my car.
Close to the entrance to the mineshaft I came across a family of four with a black Labrador. I engaged in some brief small talk and learned that it was their first visit to Tantiusques. The mother struck me as somehow uncomfortable during the conversation and I wondered why. I had to check the Upside-down icicles again.
What took the whole winter to grow into this,
was in great part destroyed in seconds to this:
Other than my own footprints, there were no footprints left in the snow than the prints left by this family, the vandals! The prints left by the family led to the only other car in the parking lot, they led to this car:
I can imagine that the “creative” kids of this family spend a lot of time playing video games blowing up, destroying things, and killing fantasy creatures.
Maybe one of their kids will go on to become a successful software engineer and will bless society with a sequel of video games named, “ICICLE TERMINATOR” and then “ICICLE TERMINATOR II,” and so on, you get the idea.. Destroying things seems to be the primary objective of today’s youth and most parents don’t seem to mind.
If you would like to enjoy the sight of this natural spectacle, you will have to wait a year and hope that no vandal will get there first.
January 17, 2010, Peter Frei