One of the first people to dive Bell Island Mine was a long-time friend and cave-diving buddy, Erik van Dorn. He was with us when we did a “proof of concept” dive in the summer of 2006.
We didn’t swim for long, just far enough to get some idea about the conditions. We laid a little line, found what looked like the remains of a small shed or stable, left a Newfoundland and Labrador provincial flag, and were back on the surface within 35 minutes.
He called me this morning to wish the team luck for our latest adventure, and he mentioned something that got me thinking about the differences and similarities between diving in a mine, in a cave and exploring the inside of a wreck.
Certainly it got me thinking about the first few dives we did. And the surprising number of artifacts we found… from downed tools and mine machinery, to graffiti written on mine walls with soot from miner’s lamps, and memorials for miners who lost their lives working the ore and trying to put bread on their family’s table.
That’s the sort of thing you simply don’t find in a cave.