Nanaimo UnderminedPosted Feb 19, 2007 @ 12:13 am, Viewed by 5195 Visitors, Read 5831 Times.
When you walk in Nanaimo, you should be imagining that the ground beneath you might be honeycombed with passages.
There used to be thick layers of high-grade coal underneath Nanaimo, some of it buried more than a hundred meters below sea level. It was mostly removed, though, and now all those kilometers of shafts are flooded with seawater. There're probably some ghosts in the deeps, too, never to see light again.
There are mine entrances all over the place downtown and around the harbour, most of them totally sealed until someone needs to blast them open again. They're sealed off because old coal mines are highly dangerous, on account of lethal gases and the instability of sedimentary rock. There are stories of kids disappearing into the old mines in the decades following their closure. I'm still trying to confirm these reports. EDIT: Confirmed. Two kids were missing for two weeks before their disappearance was noted, because each of their separated parents assumed the kids were with the other parent, apparently. Ooookay. Anyway, their remains weren't found until somebody went into the mines again a couple years later.
The map below shows one version of the extent of the coal mines, but this is certainly missing a lot of the mined areas underneath downtown Nanaimo.
There were some great conversations about Nanaimo's old coal mines on the Nanaimo Information forums. I've linked to three of them below.