Cobalt is an Ontario town that comes with a long history and abandoned old mines
The town of Cobalt was once a booming silver-mining metropolis in the early 1900s, and though current-day Cobalt might not be as glorious as its precious metal era, a visit there feels like a step back in time.
It's easily one of the most historic towns in northern Ontario and has even earned itself the title of being a National Historic Site.
The very first silver vein was discovered near what is now known as Cobalt Lake during the construction of a railroad in 1903.
This set off a silver rush. Silver pieces the size of cannonballs were being found in the ground and more than half a million dollars' worth of the precious metal was pulled out from single veins.
During this time, the town of Cobalt sprung up as miners' homes were built wherever there was a flat surface. The unpredictable layout and bending streets that remain in the area today are physical signs of that quick expansion.
When the silver market eventually began drying up a few decades later, the town started to mine the mineral for which it was named. Cobalt was used in the first effective radiation treatment for cancer patients and in the early development of jet engines, among other things.
Many of the once famous mine sites can still be found intact along the shores of Cobalt Lake and visitors can check them out on a self-guided walking tour.
You can also explore the town and its various points of interest like the old Miner's Tavern, which is still running as a local watering hole, banks, and the now-closed railway station that was built in 1910.
The Cobalt Mining Museum houses the world's largest display of native silver ore, mineral samples that when viewed under black light present an array of colours, and other artifacts and photographs dating back to the early days of the silver rush.
There are even underground tunnel tours of one of the original mines, available through the summer. Just keep in mind that the museum is closed until further notice due to the COVID pandemic.
Make sure to respect the rules of the area during your visit. Adhere to social distancing measures by visiting with a small group and pick up your trash to leave the area just as beautiful as you found it.
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