Silver Islet mine shafts ‘amazing’ and ‘spooky’ (6 Photos)

SILVER ISLET, Ont. —  The remnants of a mine that shut down 136 years ago are still intriguing visitors to Silver Islet at the tip of the Sibley Peninsula, east of Thunder Bay.

Once known as the world’s richest silver mine, it was closed in 1884, after producing $3,250,000 worth of ore.

Feats of engineering were required to develop the mine, dig 365 metres beneath the surface of Lake Superior, and operate under the constant threat of flooding.

The mine shafts are covered in water, but their top portions are visible on a calm day, making them one of the attractions during tours arranged by Thunder Bay-based Sail Superior.

The company, owned by Greg Heroux, recently opened its tour season, about six weeks behind schedule because of COVID-19 restrictions.

A trip last Sunday to Silver Islet gave customers riding on Heroux’s Superior Rocket Zodiac powerboat a close-up view of the historic mine.

Photos from the expedition, posted on social media, have been shared more than 20,000 times and have drawn hundreds of comments.

The reactions range from “stunning”, “amazing” and “beautiful” to “creepy” and “spooky.”

Will Oades, natural heritage educator at nearby Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, posted about the history of the mine on the Ontario Parks blog.

He wrote that some of the miners recruited to work at Silver Islet quit when they found that they would be working under billions of litres of water.

The mine was ultimately reclaimed by Lake Superior after 13 years, after a shipment of coal needed to keep water pumps running failed to arrive in time.