Annabel Lee Mine, Hardin Co., Illinois

I visited with Chris Anderson in May, 1987. We spent an 8-hour shift documenting the mine operations and geology. This page will document the operations. Photos were taken by Chris Anderson and are in Alan Goldstein’s collection.

According to mine geologist Eric Livingston, this may have been the only time that an eight-hour shift was recorded through photography of any fluorite mine in the Illinois-Kentucky fluorspar district’s history! (The first mine opened in 1835 in Kentucky and in the 1840s in Illinois. The text from the visit to the mine will be posted – when I can dig it out my files…

Mine headframe with a fisheye lens
Back of headframe away from ore bins
Compressor room – wide angle lens
Hoist operator. Our life was in his hands!
Tom Rose (L) and Alan Goldstein in the cage that is attached to the skip – ore bucket. Fisheye lens
Where we enter and leave to cage. The top is 868 feet – almost 90 stories of rock between us and the surface!
The “Jumbo” operating two horizontal drills into the ore face.
This machine was hauled down in pieces and assembled in the workshop.
The noisiest place on the planet! Ear protection critical.
Pole mounted drill to blast away from the main tunnel. We’re 1,300 feet underground here!
This work was in the north orebody. The Annabel Lee mined two separate deposits hundreds of feet apart.
Mined out tunnels in the north orebody at 1300-feet down.
Tom and Alan walk under an air duct. The air is full of water vapor and a little diesel exhaust.
I’m inspecting the mine face looking for pockets.
Barite and calcite are the white mineral. There is purple fluorite chunks but not much crystals.
Chris Anderson poses 1300-feet down – deeper than any cave he ever photographed.
The buggy we moved around in.
The ore face at the 900-foot level in the south orebody.
I’m inspecting a large pocket of mostly broken fluorite crystals. The pocket behind me had a small amount of flowing water.
Chris Anderson poses with my rock hammer.
Silhouette of Chris Anderson at the face of the fluorite deposit in the south orebody, 900-ft down.
Drill holes in rock in the south orebody
Oil & gas-filled calcite crystals on roof, south orebody, 900-foot level.
Calcite crystals in brecciated limestone, south orebody, 900-foot level.
Calcite crystals on roof, south orebody, 900-foot level.
Chipping fluorite octahedrons during lunch break.
I’m checking out a big pocket while Tom examines a piece of fluorite.
Near silhouette of Chris Anderson in tunnel, 900-foot level, south orebody
Another photo of Chris Anderson. Camera on tripod. He operates the flash. Walking in the dark is involved…
Multiple flash photo of the mine tunnel. Note the roof bolts on the ceiling.
Chris Anderson’s ghost. When you trip a flash and then move and do it again.
Tom Rose scaling the roof. Dropping loose slabs before roof bolts can be attached.
I’m watching Tom Rose drop rocks from the roof of the tunnel. Note roof bolts that keep the rock tight and safe.
Tom Rose scales roof near a big fluorite pocket, south orebody, 900-foot level.
Tom Rose scales roof. Note crystal pockets of fluorite to the left. They were drilled and blasted out the next shift.
Front-end loader assembled in the mine’s shop. Carried down 868-feet in pieces.
Small ore car for haul rock back to the shaft where it will be carried up to the ore hoppers on the surface.
Small ore hauler
Small ore hauler backing up to get in position.
Moving in to muck ore 900ft S orebody. That’s scooping out everything loose.
Scooping ore, 900ft S orebody
Mucking ore, 900ft south orebody
Mucking ore 900ft, south orebody. Note the small amount of water.
There goes the fluorite! 900-foot level, south orebody
Emptying rock into hauler, 900ft S orebody
Small ore haul loaded and on the move.
Ore hauler heading to shaft.
The grizzly and chute leading to the ore car that carries rock to the surface.
Jackhammer and grizzly – the grate that allows a maximum size rock to pass through.
Unloading ore into the grizzly.
Dumping ore into the grizzly.
Jackhammer breaking rock that drops through the grizzly.
Jackhammer breaking rock that drops through the grizzly.
Looking up at the roof bolts near the shaft.
Shift change by the cage – time to get back to the surface! Where did the time go?

Examples of Minerals from the Annabel Lee Mine

Fluorite from the Annabel Lee mine

This specimen was obtained at the Cincinnati Geofair.

Calcite from the north orebody – it’s more needle-like than the south orebody calcite.

This specimen was obtained at a rock shop north of Cave in rock that was opened for about a year. It cost me $15 even though it is a large specimen.

Gypsum var. Selenite needle with calcite (left side)

This micro specimen was collected from the mine surge pile (ore dumped when the hoppers are full).

Stringy barite

Purchased at Palmer’s Rock Shop in Cave in Rock in the late 1980s.

Calcite on fluorite

Quite a few of these were collected from the south orebody.

Calcite crystal with gas bubble

This doubly-terminated crystal “exploded” a day or two later when a gas bubble (visible) ruptured along the calcite’s cleavage plane. Probably a pressure difference from 900 feet down to the surface. The townhouse smelled like an oil well until we opened the doors.

Calcite crystals on brecciated limestone
Celestine on barite-coated calcite over fluorite

Celestine is only one of a hand full of mines in the fluorspar district. It was abundant in this mine – I even found solid specimens on the dump.

Sphalerite crystals

Numerous sphalerite specimens were found on the surge pile. I’ve got some sphalerite boulders in my rock garden that sparkle today – 30+ years after they were collected.