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Craigmont Mine, the Mountain of Corundum in Ontario

Last Updated: 6th Aug 2008

By Michael Adamowicz

Craigmont Mine, the Mountain of Corundum in Ontario
Exploring the Craigmont Mine in Raglan Township, Renfrew Co., Ontario, Canada

By: Michal Adamowicz, rockhound

Hail all. This is Michal again. Today I got an article for all of you on the Craigmont Mine in Eastern Ontario. First a brief history lesson. This mine was the world’s largest mining operation for Corundum at the time. The mountain was discovered as a source for Corundum in 1876. A little girl discovered crystals in the hill that resembled large bottle stoppers, these were corundum of course. Almost the entire mountain has some mine dumps. The entire west slope is littered with mine dumps. Some of the main cuts in the mountain, called the Klondike cuts were made near the west side. Most work consisted of open cuts & an adit. The mountain was worked in two sections, the western end near highway 517 & the eastern end near the mill area. If you look at Google maps & zoom into the area of the mountain you can make out some of the dumps. Also use the terrain option to see the mountain outline better. Now here the directions to get there.

Here are directions to the mine from Bancroft, Ontario. First of all you would turn onto highway 28 East. You would follow this highway for about 25.9 km until you encounter Boulter road past Mczurthurs Mills. Turn left onto Boulter road and follow it North for 17 kilometres until you encounter highway 517. Turn right onto highway 517 & go East for about 6.4 kilometers. At this point you should encounter Craigmont Road on the right. There will be no prior sign to the road so drive a bit slowly. Ok, now turn onto Craigmont road and follow it for about 2 kilometers. Always keep to the left when you follow Craigmont Road. After about 1 km into Craigmont road you will pass Regan road, keep to the left. On your left, through most of your ride along Craigmont road are hidden remains of the mine dumps, hidden in the bush. Anyway, after about 2 kilometers you will encounter a road turning sharply to the right, & there will be a house on the right in front of the turn. This is your indicator that you are getting close to the parking are. Continue to follow Craigmont Road straight, you will pass a marsh on your left. From this turnoff it is about 70 meters to the parking area, so drive slow. You will pass some woods on the right & left, and then there will be a small clearing on the left with what looks like the start of an ATV trail. You should park on one of the shoulders of this, do not block the trail entrance. This is the trail that goes to the mine. When you park make sure you leave enough room for cars to pass. It would also be a good idea to come during the weekday as the residence around the mountain don’t like visitors too much making noise on the weekend. Ok so you are here, the way to the mine is from the trail. As you start walking you will notice foundation ruins to the left and some structure to the right. These are the ruins of the mine mill. Other structure ruins can be located around the area of the parking zone. As you follow the trail it will go steadily up. Soon you will have 2 ways to go, the trail will keep heading up on the right, & down on the left. The left trail goes down the mountain to the adit, the right trail continues up and after a while it reaches the dumps. You can cut blindly forward of the T to make a shortcut to the dumps, but trails are always recommended so you don’t get lost. Right at the T you will see a small dug up area, you can start looking for Corundum bearing rock here. My best sample from this mine was found here. Ok you are at the mine, not start looking.I was collecting here with another Mindat member, & we were surprised that the mine area was quite easy to find & reach. There are some mines that are difficult to find, but this is not one of them.

Here is a historic photo of Craigmont Hill, then it was Mount Robilard. You can see the massive dumps on both sides of the mountain.
At 100% width

Here is a Google Maps view of the Mine area. The mountain is hugging the north side of Criagmont road, & the dumps can be visible on the slopes.The "D" stands for the dumps, the "T&H" stand for the T intersection & house, the "M" stand for the marsh, & the "P" stand for the mine parking area.
At 100% width

Here is a close-up of the parking area. You can park in the area where an ATV trial starts going to the left of Craigmont road in the indicated spot.
At 100% width

Now for the fun part, the search for crystals. Well first of all this mountain is a huge dump. There are dumps everywhere on the slopes, most are surrounded by trees but the rocks are all there. If you plan on exploring the entire mine in one weekend, think again. I did mention it was an entire mountain of dumps right?. Well if you truly want to explore all dumps, a week might be enough, but still probably not. Lets all be realistic, we all have plans on visiting more than one site so this won’t happen. Anyway, the area to best search is the eastern slope, near the parking area. This the area I would recommend you search for a number of reasons. First this slope is easy to access. Its near the parking area, the trails lead all around it, & there is an adit to explore also. The trail that leads the mountain can get your heart pumping but its nothing you can’t handle, but I would recommend you carry limited gear. When I was coming down the mountain I had two buckets full of samples, & a loaded backpack. It wasn’t the easiest & safest decent, as it was slippery & muddy after the rains. One problem & advantage regarding the trails is the trails themselves. I would recommend you find an old geological map of this hill, the old trails are mostly listed here. This is not really necessary to see the dumps, as they can be found all over but if you want to see the adit, it can be tricky. I would recommend to trust your instincts, they will tell you if you are going off trail. If you are interested in seeing most of the cuts they are on the west side, they are called the Klondike Cuts. Ok, back to topic. Just follow the trail from the mill ruins up the slope, eventually you will see remains of the dumps & at this point you might wish to go off trail to explore. Some of the dumps are a bit steep & can be dangerous. If you choose to climb them, have limited weight & go around the sides, you don’t want to start a small rock slide with you at the bottom. You can definitely climb around the dumps, just use caution. The main area of dumps you can see on the satellite image from goggle, they appear as dips in the tree line. Once you get to the top of the mountain, the view is impressive & worth the walk.

Here is the view from the top, looking southwest.
At 100% width

Here is a small dug in pit near the T in the trail. You will encounter this small pit at first as you walk up the mountain. This is a good spot to start looking here.
At 100% width

Corundum is the main crystal to look for here, as it a Corundum mine after all. Unfortunately this locality has been a stop for collectors for many decades so most of the easy picking is gone. You have to shift material around to find samples. Look all over the dumps & move rocks around to find crystals. Most if not all Corundum here is in syenite, and is difficult to remove. There are also a few crystals easily visible as they are stuck in large boulders, & no one has been able to remove them. Care to take a shot at removing them.

Here is a 3.5 inch Corundum crystal in syenite. The boulder it is attached to is very large & moving it with ought explosives is not an option. It would be easier to find other samples rather than chipping this one out.
At 100% width

There are also a few open pits on the hilltop, but they are full of water & serve as bases for mosquitoes, black flies, & deerflies. You knew I was going to mention these bloody things eventually. There are an annoyance, but they are not as bad as other areas I been to such as Bear Lake Diggings. Once you get into the open or on the large dump hills they will pretty much leave you alone. Bug spray will help though.

Here is a ruined structure on the right side of the trail, very close to the parking are. It might be furnace remains.
At 100% width

Here is one of the open cuts on the hill top I mentioned, as you can see its full of water.
At 100% width

Other minerals except Corundum that you can found find here are: Allanite, Magnetite, Biotite, Molybdenite, Pyroxene Group, & Mica Group. These stand out from the whole list of minerals located here since I have seen these on my trip, so I can vouch for their existence.

Here is my best sample, so far from the mine.Corundum crystals range from 1 to 4 cm long.
At 100% width

Here are some other samples from the mine.

Larger Version using width setting

Mica Group & Molybdenite
Larger Version using width setting

Molybdenite & Pyroxene Group
Larger Version using width setting

That’s overall it for this locality. I would highly recommend it though. When we were here we just did a quick search but if you spend a lot more time of course you should be able to find some nice samples. I would suggest coming on a weekday though. Here is a summary of this site.

1.) Great exploration potential. The site is very large.
2.) Close located to other sites, Jewleville Corundum, Gutz Farm, Burgess Mine, & Beryl Pit.
3.) Easy to get from road to mine, no difficult & dangerous driving sections.
4.) Great view.
5.) Has multiple ruins.
6.) Has an adit. Rumors say it takes 10 minutes to walk all the way to the other end.
7.) Acceptable insect levels. Bug spray still recommended.

1.) Bug can be a problem if you stay in the woods too long.
2.) The hike up the mountain can be strenuous if overweight with gear & tools.
3.) Some section of the mountain are private property, so watch the signs.
4.) Not a good idea to stay on the hill top & mine dump tops during thunderstorm.

To get more up to date information on private property issues or general Craigmont Mine information talk to Christopher Hicks at the Valley Market Store in Combermere. He has photos of the old days of the mine, & he would know of any private property issues on the mountain. Combermere is very close from Criagmont road, just keep on highway 517 northeast.

Just to say, this is a great locality definitely worth visiting. I would also say that it is worth visiting even if you just drive from Bancroft to it for the whole day. There is a lot of potential to collect here. Well thanks fro reading once again. Hope you enjoyed it.

Thanks for reading. Rockhound safe & with determination

(1) Google Maps: http://maps.google.ca/maps?hl=en&tab=wl
Satellite images of Craigmont Hill.
(2) Rocks & Minerals for the Collector: Geological Survey of Canada
Miscellaneous Report 48, by Ann P. Sabina. Page 60, Mountain image.

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