If you turn right on the first branch of Smithers Creek, about half a mile from Route 60, and follow it to the end, through the open mine gates, what appears at the end is shocking.
The five photos below show what we found as we drove towards the end of the creek. At the bottom, is Bob Gates' aerial photo of massive erosion from an old slate dump.
This is the first house below the mine site, and the last in the hollow. The table was set in the dining area, as if the residents had fled as the rocks and water surged toward their home.
Damage just upstream from the house.
Runoff from the old sediment pond in the next photo cut a deep gully alongside the road. An unusual kind of metal netting was placed in the drainage channel as if to slow the erosion.
The drainage channel from the pond before it reaches the eroded gully. The tank on the right contains a chemical for treatment of acid mine drainage.
The pond itself was filled with runoff from a 200-foot-long gully down the mountain at the top right in the picture. From the air, this appears to come from an old mine at the top of the mountain.
DEP officials say that what appears here is parts of two old mines. The pond is treating runoff from a deep mine, while the surface mine belonged to a different company. Neither appears to have been fully reclaimed.
Portions of the partially reclaimed slate dump collapsed into the pond and hollow below during the storm. Photo by Bob Gates