Heritage Silver Trail
Cobalt Historical Society
Silver was first discovered at the south end of Cobalt Lake in 1903 and has been mined continuously since that time. To this date, over a half billion ounces have been produced from the area. At one time, over 100 mines were in operation and supported a population of 12,000 within the Town of Cobalt.
By 1910, the Ragged Chutes Compressed Air Plant, one of only three like it in the world, came on-stream. It supplied compressed air to the area mines through an extensive network of pipes, parts of which still remain throughout the camp. Between 1910 and 1914, three hydro-electric plants were built to meet the burgeoning demand for power. A street car line soon began operating and reflected one of the immediate benefits of a booming economy. Peak production was reached in 1911 when 31,507,791 ounces of silver were produced. By 1922, over 300 million ounces of silver had been extracted from local mines.
Realizing the unique contribution that the discovery and development of the Cobalt silver mining camp has made to the mineral industry in Canada and the world, the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines conceived a pilot project designed to preserve and illustrate some of the historical attributes of the area.
The result is the Heritage Silver Trail; a self-guided drive along the back roads of Cobalt and Coleman Township through some of the more historic mining sites in the camp. A six-kilometre loop within the existing road system east of Cobalt Lake provides typical examples of mining at the turn of the century. Through a system of billboards, route markers, site signs and information points, visitors are able to travel through the past and experience the history of the Cobalt mining camp. Each stop illustrates a different aspect of the Cobalt story and consists of a parking area, lookout platforms and/or walking trails.
Cobalt's Heritage Silver Trail was first organized in 1985 with the support of the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. It has expanded year by year since that time with the help of government and private funding and many hours of volunteer service by members of the Cobalt Historical Society so that it is now four times it's original size. In 2001 the Cobalt Camp was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada.
"The Heritage Silver Trail (Cobalt) is one of the best examples of a well signed, maintained and self guided trail system in northern Ontario. There is much to learn and experience here. You can drive, walk, and my recommendation is take your bicycles! Yours to discover, stay awhile."
Back Roads Bill Steer
Writer - CBC columnist
Follow on FBook - Back Roads Bill Steer and go to www.steerto.com
The trail provides access to important sites that explain the exciting history of the silver rush in Cobalt more than one hundred years ago. Each site is designed to provide visitors with background historical and technical data to enable an understanding of the unique history of the Cobalt Camp and the significance of the sites along the trail.
Please note that only the officially numbered sites have been approved for safe public access. Other areas are on private property and may not be safe for unguided touring.
Link to map of the Trail
Site 1 Townsite Mine
Site 2 Glory Hole
Site 3 McKinley Darragh Mill Site
Site 4 The Little Silver Vein
Site 5 Cart Lake Tailings Lookout
Site 6 Nipissing 96 Shaft withdrawn due to subsidence dangers.
Site 7 Nipissing Hill Lookout
Site 8 Nipissing #81 Open Cut
Site 9 Right-of-Way Mine
Site 11 Larose Blacksmith Shop
Site 12 Nipissing 73-Meyer Shaft
Site 13 Coniagas Shaft House #4
Site 14 Pan Silver Headframe
Site 15 Northern Customs Concentrator
Site 16 Colonial Mine Site
Site 17 Nova Scotia Mine & Mill Site
Site 18 Crown Reserve Mine Site
Site 19 Silver Sidewalk
Site 20 Jack Koza Park
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