Last year when I was on a road trip down South I was a few hours ahead of schedule and saw a sign pointing to a ghost town called Waiuta, so I turned off the main road & drove up through forests to an old gold mining area called Waiuta.

Babcock & Wilcox was founded in 1867 in Providence, Rhode Island, by partners Stephen Wilcox and George Babcock to manufacture and market Wilcox’s patented water-tube boiler.

Babcock & Wilcox factory circa 1917

The first mineshaft operated in 1908 called the Blackwater Shaft and was 563 m in depth. The mine was extended in 1926 with the acquisition of the adjacent Blackwater North claim, which was renamed the “Prohibition”. The Prohibition shaft took over in 1938 and reached 879 m deep, reaching below sea level!

DOC info on Waiuta is here

“Waiuta was once a bustling mining settlement, producing nearly 750,000 ounces of gold from 1.5 million tons of quartz….

Once I’d had a look & shot some photos, I carried on further to Prohibition Mine, which was also fascinating

DOC Info on Prohibition mine is here

There is some history of the area here along with some beautiful glass plate negatives taken by “Joseph Divis (1885-1967), who was born near Prague (now in the Czech Republic) and migrated to New Zealand in 1909. He worked as a miner, and spent much of his adult life at Waiuta. An experienced photographer, Divis used a shutter time-release and often darted out from behind the camera to appear in his own shots. Photographs taken in the mine show him wearing working clothes, but above ground he was almost always dressed in a distinctive safari suit. His carefully composed glass negatives provide a fascinating record of the mine, the town and its people in the 1920s and 1930s.”

Some of the best parts of travel are unplanned side trips!
So glad I visited Waiuta, it was eerily quiet…



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