Kenilworth Mines

Parked at the bottom of the mountainI had everything ready yesterday so that as soon as I got off work I could drive to Kenilworth and hike up to the old coal mines above town. I started the hike at about 3:40PM and made my way up the steep tram grade that climbs the mountain. I took my time, reaching the top of the tramway about 35 minutes later. From there, I turned west and followed the old shelf line that was much less steep, though the first part of it has crumbled down the mountain. It was a precarious hike, traversing a steep slope with cliffs dropping off below, and using a shovel to dig out footholds about every two feet for nearly two hundred feet. I was relieved to reach the other side where the grade leveled out again.
Fan machinery at the north openingThe tramway beyond that point was much more intact. In some places the rails and ties were still completely in place, though well-weathered. There were a couple of spots that were overgrown and I had to bushwhack while still following the rails. Eventually I topped out on a relatively flat area near the mine openings. I’d seen these Historical American Engineering Record photos and knew there were buildings near the mine openings, and I had hoped they’d survived the mine reclamation of the early ’80s due to their relative inaccessibility. Unfortunately, it looked as though the U.S. OSM and Utah DOGM had decided to destroy the buildings and equipment, yet leave the remains in place. It makes no sense to me–I’m still dumbfounded by their actions. Nearly all the rock walls had been torn down, and the metal fan building had been cut up with a torch and left in pieces surrounding the fan. The Aberdeen Number 1 South opening was completely buried, but the North opening only looked partially buried. I got excited when I thought I might be able to look into the shaft, but when I got closer and looked down into the opening, I saw that it had been sealed off with what appeared to be cinder block and concrete.
Stormy on the way down the mountainAfter checking out the mine openings and equipment lying around, I scrambled up a steep chute between cliffs. At the top of the cliffs I found the remains of another water tank. From there I hiked farther up the mountain to the top of the ridge above me, then hiked down the ridge until I couldn’t go any farther. I had a nice view west toward some other mine workings, but I realized that I should have stayed low. I was at the top of a cliff band that extended past the mine workings, so either direction I went to get down the cliffs would have taken me quite a while. I placed a geocache while I was at the point overlooking the western mine opening, then hiked just a little farther west to get a better look. When I stopped at the edge of a cliff to look down at the mine, I could smell an odor similar to diesel fuel or lighter fluid. The breeze was blowing directly past the mine toward me, and it was obvious from the smell that this mine hadn’t been sealed off like the others. This mine opening had no tramway running to it, so it must have been opened from inside via one of the other openings. There are some mostly intact tram cars nearby, and at least one visible opening. I really wanted to go down to check it out, but I only had about an hour of good daylight left. I decided to leave it for another day, and hopefully that day will come soon. I returned to the bottom of the mountain by the same route I’d taken up. The hike across the collapsed shelf line went much more quickly since the footholds were already dug out. I’d only spent four hours up there, though it seemed like longer.

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