Akron Mines (Caves)
In the town of Akron, NY, you will find some interesting underground features. Akron, NY was where a desired component of cement was discovered in the 1880's. The Akron Cement was a cement base which could actually set hard, while submerged in water (A Hydraulic Cement). This discovery was very useful, and thus a mine opened up in Akron, NY to begin mining this unique type of cement. The cement from Akron was used extensively in Manhattan. It is believed that this was a Rosendale Cement type mine. The timeframe and mining style seem to match.
Several mines were carved out of the rock in the 1890's, south of the present day Airport. These mines were carved using likely TNT. Miners then went in and excavated by hand with carts and steam powered equipment, with the help of hammers and spikes, in order to clear the rock. Some spikes, wedged into solid rock, can still be found inside to this day.
This mine in Akron, NY may have been a historic site, and rumors exist of it being the site of a large scale workers dispute and strike over safety. In 1910 the mine ceased to produce much, and became too dangerous and unstable to continue production. Eventually Rosendale Cement was mixed with Portland Cement to create a more durable product. However as Portland Cement continued to be further refined and perfected, it became more popular. Akron Cement Mines closed down for 20 years - only operating for about 20 years. In the 1930's someone began growing Mushrooms in the South Mine, however that did not last long. The mines remain dormant and unused from then until present day.
Today, there are nearby mining operations which include gypsum and salt. These operations are mostly underground operations to the East of Akron, NY. To my understanding the local Gypsum is mostly used for the production of plasterboard / wall panels.
In the 1990's Town Officials tried to wall off the entrance to the larger of the 2 mines, however the wall was torn down within 48 hours of it being erected. Not only did the wall prevent the locals from a 'neat place to go and hang out', but it also prevented bats from entering or exiting the cave. A endangered species of bat does reside in these mines, and is being studied there as well.
To the south, along Murder Creek there are some older under ground workings near the Akron Falls, in the Akron Falls Park. This 'cave' is very tiny and you do have to crawl through a very narrow hole to enter it. These caves are very dangerous and do flood with water sometimes. However they are likely not even caves, but rough remains of some more mine shafts or milling waterworks in the area. Entering them, however, is a lot more difficult.
Lord Rick (a self proclaimed ghost hunter expert, cult leader, and man-god), once claimed that these natural caves were Native American burial grounds, however he is highly inaccurate in this regard. The natural caves are a terrible place to bury someone, as they do fill with water often, and the natives would of known this was not a place of rest.
The Akron Caves and Mines are a fun place to adventure, however, you should never go alone. There are a few things to remembered when going to the caves.
Firstly; Cell Phones and Radios do not work in the cave. Do not rely on them.
Secondly; Tell someone where you are going and when to expect you back. It is possible to get lost in these caves, and its good practice to either bring someone along who will wait outside, or tell someone at home when to expect you back, just in case.
Thirdly; The mines are not always stable, always be wary of your surroundings. Watch for cracks in the ceiling and avoid sections which look dangerous. Avoid loud noises, and avoid moving rocks.
Forth; Walking on unstable rocks is often dangerous, calculate each step, and be sure you have a solid footing before you put your weight down on your foot. Some rocks may look stable, but may tip when you put your weight on them, be ready for this, and be careful not to let your leg slip between 2 rocks and get stuck.
Fifth; While the temperature is stable, at a constant 48.5 degrees F year round, the air quality is not always so stable. Be wary of your breathing, and if it starts to feel stuffy, remove yourself to fresher air.
And last but not least. Mark your way out. I find string works, but isn't always the best choice. In the Mines there are some marking systems in use, Circle + Dot = towards the exit, and Circle + X = further into the cave. In addition to this, I find that leaving a few glow sticks near exit points will help you remember your way out. It is advisable to plan your trip during the day and keep an eye on the clock. As if night does fall while you are in there, the dark entrance will make it even harder to find the way out. Especially if you are not familiar with the place.
As for parking, there is a snowmobile / ATV trail which passes by both Mine entrances, just along the southern property line of the Akron Airport. This trail is wide enough to drive a vehicle onto, and you can park in towards the trees. Just be sure not to block the path for ATV's. The south mine entrance is located on the south side of the trail, down a steep decline, near where the trail dives into the trees. The north mine entrance is located at the base of the hill, further down the trail. It is by far the more popular one.
Many parts are flooded, some completely submerged. Due to the instability, I wouldn't recommend exploring the completely underwater parts without a lot of safety gear and some professional assistance.
One thing to watch out for; There is a thin mineral vein in these mines. The mineral vein runs the length of the mine, and is usually near the ceiling. It will look like the photograph here. The rock below this vein is unstable, as the vein is not as strong as the rock above it. So if you are under rock, which is below this vein, be cautious. The rock above this vein is by far much more sturdy then the rock below, so you can likely consider that rock safe.
Cave ins do happen, so be careful. If you hear cracking, you likely should leave the area. Never tug or pull or hit the ceiling of the cave, despite how safe you think it might be, you do not know what is holding that rock up above you. I have been in there and heard distant rocks fall.
As far as legalities are concerned, I do not believe it is technically illegal to be in either the Caves or the Mines. The Mines are located on Church property, and the Caves are located within the river and Akron Falls Park. The only legality I know of would be a bylaw regarding being in the park at night.
Here are some more photos, some are photos of bats we have found.
Fossils of ancient critters on the sea floor. There are a lot of fossils in the mines, Some people were even brave enough to chip some out of the ceiling. I wouldn't recommend doing that however.
Below is a photo of some calcite deposits, lit up with UV light.
The "Main" Adit has been barred off by the Department of Environment, perhaps, in order to protect an endangered group of bats.
But... That doesn't seem to stop anyone. An open door means walk in, and there are no posted signs.
But there are some small entrances nearby which could also be worth checking out.
I haven't checked this one out, but it isn't too far away from the Main Adit.
The 'Cool' mine is blocked now by a huge pile of underbrush. It was dangerous to try to climb with the slippery snow, and the possibility of slipping between the branches. Actually a very effective way to block it.
If you are interested in exploring this, and want more details, you may contact me at Roadwolf's Email.
USGS Info on the Mine
Calcite Photo of the Day post
Local History of the Mines in Akron
Note: Info was provided to me years ago saying this type of cement was called 'Akron Flour'. While this is still possible, I have found no further references. The only reference I can find is that "in 1852 Enos Newman sold his cement business to his brothers Edward J. and Leroy Newman. In 1858-59 built a second lime kiln and cement mill near lower Akron Falls. Enos and his son, Amos established a new cement mill on the south side of Murder Creek which he also sold to his brothers in 1864. The Newman mill produced 600 barrels of cement per day – the Flour mill 150 barrels per day!" (wikimedia.org also shows drawing of the flour and cement milling operations).
There is a Discord Server set up to discuss this topic: https://discord.gg/QyBmqMuJH2