I've spent a lot of time in the bush, what with camping, orienteering and especially tree planting. So I feel pretty qualified to say that, generally speaking, one piece of bush is pretty much like any other piece. Or so I thought. It was May 2006 and I was taking a break from setting up a treeplanting camp. As my dog Sheppers was with me I decided to indulge in one of our favourite activities, a two hour bush walk. About half an hour into it I noticed that Shep was walking on a type of ground I had never seen before. It felt spongy under my boots, and little seemed to grow on it because air pockets beneath the surface robbed it of moisture. Strange, I thought. Then suddenly it made a whole lot of sense: it wasn't ground at all, but the rotten remains of a giant man-made structure!
Scaling a nearby tree I was able to take this aerial shot of the old mill site. The structure was originally about 20m X 20m according to my pacing. Judging by the shape of the ruins the building collapsed down slope into a ravine.
That black blur down there is Sheppers, by the way!
There were at least 12 different piles of timber at this site. Around most of them all I was able to find were metal bands similar to the ones used to wrap lumber at a mill I worked at about ten years ago, so I guessed they were just lumber stacks that were never shipped. Several of the ruins had nails and tin sheets, however, indicating that they were once small buildings. The mill site itself had several I-beams and a lot of metal machinery sticking out of the ground.
A section of tin roof peak indicates that there was once a structure at this location.
This particular structure was better preserved than most, with nailed lumber clearly visible. Nearby there were several rotten metal bed-springs, so I tentatively declare this to be a bunk house for workers at the mill.
Sheppers sniffs out the bunk house, looking for clues of its origins. Good dog!
Easily the most spectacular remains at this site is the old rail tressle bridge. The huge timbers used in its construction have stood the test of time, as has the earth viaduct that runs either side of the water course. My hypothesis is that the tressle stood a lot longer than the other buildings, keeping the timbers dry so that they haven't rotted yet. Along the viaduct above the ruin there are a few rails left from the old railway.
The course of the bridge is visible over the river.
A little internet research on my day off yielded further information: apparently the mill I found was only a later construction. Originally there was a whole town called Dalton Mills 3 miles down the old spur line from our camp site, and apparently there were visible remains still standing! So I immediately requisitioned a company vehicle to check the site out. We didn't end up finding any ghost town (it was apparently across the river and the bridge had rotted out), but we did find EXTENSIVE mill ruins.
Four foot high concrete footings protrude from the forest. The mill aparently burned in 1949, so these trees could be around 50 years old.
Not all the trees were so fortunate in their location. These birch are slowly being pushed over by the weight of the old foundation wall that is collapsing onto them.
Nature ruining ruins ruining nature. Think about it.
Around the mill there were several little hills that turned out to be piles of red brick! Judging from the size of the trees growing on them these out-buildings must have burned at the same time as the mill.
Just like Indiana Jones in the jungle! Here I am pointing out a patch of brick masonry still visible under the surface of the modern forest.
One of my fellow amateur archaeologists (Nick Lanckosz) poses near some of the mysterious metal pipes that sprouted from the forest floor. Could these have had something to do with steam powered machinery?
Metal pipes and I-beams stick up all over the site.
One of the better preserved sections of the mill. I had planned on a bit of an orienteering trip through the forest to the other side of the river but work obligations got in the way. Too bad, since one of the websites I researched said there was a "shell" of an old hotel still standing along with the foundations of 80 houses! I'm definitely going to have a closer look the next time I'm in the region.
Alex poses with a brick pulled from the ground in front of a crumbling concrete wall.