Silver Islet – Used To Be The Richest Silver Mine In The World Now An Eerie Ghost Town

Silver Islet is both a small rocky island and a small hamlet in northern Ontario, Canada, located near the point of the Sibley Peninsula, across the harbour from Thunderbay.

The Montreal Mining Company discovered a large seam of pure silver on this little island in 1868. At the time, the island was around [50 m2] in size and barely 2.5 metres above Lake Superior’s waters.

The location was created in 1870 by Alexander H. Sibley’s Silver Islet Mining Company, which erected wooden breakwaters around the island to keep the lake’s waves at bay and significantly extended the island’s area with crushed rock.

The islet was extended to more than ten times its original area, and a tiny mining village was created on the surrounding coast.

In 1878, after much of the finest ore from the initial location had been extracted, a second vein was discovered. By 1883, the majority of the best silver had been taken, and the price of silver had fallen.

The last straw was the failure of a coal cargo to arrive before the end of the shipping season. The lake’s pumps ceased working, and the islet’s mining shafts, which had reached a depth of 384 meters, were inundated in early 1884. They would never be dewatered, nor would the mine’s subterranean activities be resumed.

Over the course of the mine’s 16-year existence, $3.25 million in silver was mined.

Source   Google Street View ©2010 Google

The buildings that were once used to accommodate miners are now utilised as individual vacation cottages. The general shop has been renovated and now provides light meals in its tea-room, as well as offering a range of knick-knacks and basic goods.

This is an essay published by Syd Hancock on the occasion of Julian Cross’s death on January 21st, 1972.

Julian (Jules) Cross, the founder of Steep Rock Iron Mine in Atikokan, Ontario, lived on Silver Islet, according to Syd Hancock.

The Ontario Department of Public Records and Archives built a bronze plaque outside the Atikokan Library and Museum to commemorate the historical significance of the Steep Rock Iron Range.

Julian Gifford Cross, the man who unveiled this monument and made the Steep Rock tale possible, died on December 29th, 1971, at the age of 83.

Born on July 25th, 1888, barely four years after the famed Silver Islet silver mine closed, his fate, like the future of many others, was inextricably linked with mining.

The Sleeping Giant Provincial Park visitor center contains an outstanding display describing the construction and history of the mine.

There is conjecture that there is still a significant amount of silver to be collected at this location, but attempts to restart the mine in 1919 and the 1970s (reprocessing mine tailings) were unsuccessful.

The Silver Islet Mine was also the first commercial application of “Vanners” to extract metal from low-grade ore.

The “Frue Vanner,” named after W. B. Frue, Superintendent of the Silver Islet Mine, who invented the system, was initially erected on the mainland at the “Stamp Mill” alongside “Frue’s Brook.” The Frue Vanner is still used today in modern variations.

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