Coudersport Ice Mine
This information came from the Book "Cross Fork Tales" by Inez Bull
About four miles east of Coudersport, Potter County, on the
Roosevelt Highway, is a mountain which bears the name of Ice Mountain. In it I found a
wonderful freak of nature-an ice mine.
The title does not accurately describe the place, because it is not an actual mine. It is a vertical shaft about forty feet deep, eight feet wide, and ten feet long, in which ice formations appear during the spring of the year, continue through the hot weather, and disappear on the approach of winter. These strange formations appear in various shapes, often as huge icicles measuring from feet in length. Discovered while digging for silver ore, the prospectors jokingly remarked they had found an ice mine instead of a silver mine.
Its freakishness is its main attraction. The ice is generally clear as crystal and sparkling. But the clearness is often destroyed by mud and dirt washed into the mine during the heavy rains. On a warm summer day it is refreshing to go near the coolness of the needle-like points of the icicles.
Near the entrance to the mine are a number of small openings, from which arise, at irregular intervals during warm weather, a heavy vapor or fog.
Its history savors of the weird and mysterious. The Red Man figures prominently in its discovery. In the early days, there were a number of them living in Potter County. Often Indians were known to have pure silver ore. Refusing to admit where they obtained the metal, it was believed by the settlers that they knew of a silver deposit somewhere in the mountains of Potter County.
In the early 1890's a Cattaraugus Indian came to Coudersport and indicated to the townsmen that Ice Mountain was the source of the ore.
The owner of the mountain hired a man to help him search for the mine. They used a rod that is often used in locating water and minerals. Once the rod lurched downward and the men believed that they had struck silver. They proceeded to dig until they had opened a shaft and were astonished to find ice. After a while they found in addition, human bones, fossilized fish and fern leaves but no metal. The project was abandoned.
Regularly each spring since, a considerable amount of ice can be found in the evacuation, but during the winter the pit is comparatively dry.
Visitors frequently remark about the coolness and freshness of the air as they approach Ice Mountain, and are enchanted by the rainbow of colors caused by the sun playing upon the icicles. As you gaze upon this bewitched phenomenon your life appears to unfold before you. Dreams seem more conquerable and the unknown mystery gathers you within its vapor and your faith comes forth. Yes, it emanates in all the glory that the ice stalactites issue in the caverns. You fill it surging within you, from the tip of your tows to the top of your head. Strong and firm it grows, and grows, imbuing faith in the mysteries of the unknown, in nature, in people, in yourself and in life.
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