Saturday, May 26, 2007

(B) Cheratte, Hasard Cheratte

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This coal mine, located in the heart of the town of Cheratte, dates back to the 1860's, and was one of the numerous mines in the Liège coal basin. The main buildings consists of a tall, castle-like winding tower over shaft #1, which is connected to two similar looking wings, which held washrooms and other related facilities. A low laying building in the center of the facility served as a lamp room and charging area. The remains of a tower can be seen on the hill behind the mine, which sits over the shaft "Puits Hognée," and was used to transport waste materials. The imposing concrete winding tower sits over shaft #3, which is the deepest shaft at this facility (480 meters).

The mine has been closed since 1977, and has remained undisturbed for the most part. It has been designated as a Belgian protected landmark, which equates to fencing, signs, and nothing else.

Info source: http://www.opacity.us

My boyfriend had examinated the place the day before, so today I only had to follow his footsteps through the forest. The last part, entering the domain of the buidings, was the hardest - a bit slippery because of the rain the day before - but we managed it without serious injuries ;-)
The first room, one of many with lockers and showers, already impressed me very much. Although completely rusty, it was like I was entering the past. We spent almost an hour over there (most of the time it's a mistake to spend such a long time in the first place you enter; usually other rooms are just as, or even more interesting. If you'd spend an hour on every place in such an interesting and huge site as Hasard Cheratte, you would need a couple of days).
I completely forgot about time while being there. Discovering a place makes me excited, taking photographs sets me at rest. It was nice to still find some (stiffen) clothes, helmets, gas masks, gloves, belts and of course: lots of boots.
Although this place has already been photographed many times, it's fun to search your own approach, and to try to transcend the quality of other people's photos.

Suddenly, when we were in one tower, we heard voices outside. Looking down, we saw a whole crew of photographers, helpers and models, and they even brought a small dog. Apparently they had entered through an easier way (probably legitimate), looking at the clothes of the models and the material they had brought!
They saw us but fortunately ignored us, so we tried to ignore them, although we had to pass right through their set a couple of times :-)

Because I had to catch a train and because I had spent way too many time in the first shower room, we had to go
too quickly through the last building we visited: the place where the workers got paid and where they stored their lamps and gas masks, etc.
What a pity, we'll have to return later to this urbex-heaven...

2 comments:

Sam R. said...

Hi there! What an impressive story in word and image you're leaving here. Some very strong shots in an exciting series. Cheratte is marked on our want-to-visit list since a long time already ... Maybe we'll go there soon! Because, you made us very curious ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi I am watching on win amp and strangly this was cool stuff to do when I was a younster back in the '70 but I was thinking Who climbs Trees now days ? I dont remember the safty factors but I wish I had camera back then.