Friday, 16 June 2017

Nipigon hasn't Always been Just a " Pretty Place" (from Aug 25, 2011 JNSTB)


Over-looking the Lagoon with the CNR causeway
that cut off the flow curve of the Nipigon River a hundred years ago.
 Now the CNR has pulled their tracks , will the causeway stay?

Once there was some heavy action going on two miles down river, on Vert Island and even on Cooke Point on the south shore of Lake Nipigon.

These are the Nipigon Bay Islands looking from Kama Hill 20 km East of Nipigon. 
The smoke of the Red Rock mill is just visible 
a quarter of the way in from the right of the photo.
Taken with trusty Brownie 126 in 1965.

Document 733, Canada Dept. of Mines, Canadian Limestones for Building Purposes, page 96, describes our area limestone as being of three types:

  1. very hard, siliceous stone

  2. soft, marly, very impure dolomite, usually red in colour, which weathers readily to a shaly mass

  3. light, grey, very fine-grained dolomite usually possessing a green tint and much of it mottled with red

The third kind was the best but its helter skelter locations have kept it relatively unused. In 1931 a quarry opened on Cooke Point but didn't run long.

A small amount of building stone of the number one variety was quarried from the East side of the Nipigon River two miles below the town-site. This stone was too hard for general building purposes.

Nipigon River 1965 from saw mill site.

T.L. Tanton's memoir 167, the Geological Survey of Canada 1931, describes the limestone of the Sibley series suitable for ornamental building stone, as being found near the mouth of the Nipigon River.  The limestone was thinly inter laminated with red, purple, and green shaly material. Prior to  1919, an ornamental building stone known as Nipigon Marble, was produced from a quarry on the East shore.

Directly across from the saw mill site on Nipigon River.
 Looking at the East side. 1965

Vert Island had a sandstone quarry and it was abandoned in 1885.

Islands in the stream.

Further documentation of the limestone deposit two miles below Nipigon was made in, Canada Dept. of Mines and Resources, Limestones of Canada, Part IV, No. 781, page 339, under the heading of Nipigon River.

Coming up on the 'picture rocks'.

It reads thus: " Two miles below Nipigon Village, hard, siliceous Precambrian limestone is exposed on both sides of the Nipigon River, but principally on the east side where a small quarry for building stone was at one time opened.  At the site of the quarry a thickness of 43 feet of the limestone, dipping southerly at a low angle, is exposed above the water. A short distance inland it is overlain by a sill of trap rock 175 feet thick.

The succession of beds is as follows:
  • 10 feet thickly bedded, shaly, dark grey.magnesian limestone weathering to a greenish grey.
  • These are the pictograph rocks in Nipigon Bay.
  • 15 feet purplish and dark greenish grey, very hard cherty dolomite in beds up to one foot thick, that weathers differently.
  • 4 to 6 inches of hard, green and purple shale,
  • 19 feet magnesian limestone of similar appearance to that above but which is less hard and siliceous. the beds are up to 2 feet in thickness and are wavy with thin beds of softer limestone between. Some are mottled with dark purple patches clouded with pink and green.
It was mainly these lower beds that were quarried

Back up River toward Nipigon, 1991, the big power line crosses the river,
not visible in the 1965 photo.
We still have to cross the 49th parallel before we get back to the dock.

Today, in 2011, most of the area we have been talking about is off limits.
The Great Lakes Heritage Coast,
The Thunder Bay Field Naturalists,
The National Marine Conservation Area -
all carry a do not use mandate.

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