Akron Mines (Caves)

In the town of Akron, NY, you will find some interesting underground features. Akron, NY was where a desired type of cement was discovered in the 1880's. The Akron Cement was a cement base which could actually set hard, while submerged in water. This discovery was 'apparently' the first of its kind, and thus a Limestone mine opened up in Akron, NY to begin mining this unique type of cement. The cement from Akron was used extensively in Manhattan.

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!" (newsteadhistoricalsociety.org).

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 is a strange view along a row of columns inside the Mine.  Scale is hard to comprehend in this photo.

This mine in Akron, NY was actually a historical site, and was the setting for the nations first organized labor dispute and strike. In 1910 the mine ceased to produce much, and became too dangerous and unstable to continue production. Portland Cement was also discovered in abundance, which had more desirable properties. It was closed down for 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.

An interesting shot.

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 a few rough caves or mines. The first one is located behind Akron Falls, in the Akron Falls Park. The second 'cave' is further up stream about 200 yards at a smaller waterfall, behind the Self Wash station at East and State. This 'cave' is very tiny and you do have to crawl through a very narrow hole to enter it. Both of 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 in the area. Entering them, however, is a lot more difficult.

Smoke shows how the air mixes in the cave.  We set off some smoke bombs to watch and study how the air moves.

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.

Deep within the cave, you can find large rooms,  However always be careful.

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 caves. The mineral vein runs the length of the cave, 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 every few months, 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.

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.

Recent News:

The Airport has recently barred off the entrance to the North Mine, which runs under the Airport. However the South Mine is still opened. But it is much harder to access. For detailed directions contact me.

The North Mine Entrance, under the airport, is now barred off (Above).  In June of 2011 Roadwolf revisited the South Mine with some friends (Below).

RELATED:

USGS Info on the Mine
Calcite Photo of the Day post
Local History of the Mines in Akron