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Common sense isn't.

Armes Gap to Prison Coal Mines

October 2006 and March 2007

OpenStreetMap of destination and areaa of route (from Rt. 116 to end of "cable" above Brushy Mountain State Prison)

Trail 20, Old Prison Mine Trail, on Frozen Head State Park Trails Map

Elevations: Armes Gap 2139 feet; Coal Mines 2320 feet; Net climb 181 feet. Distance: Approx. 0.5 miles

See also: Armes Gap to Fire Tower

The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost (1874–1963).
Mountain Interval. 1920.

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

First Mine Entrance Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

Mine Entrance Close And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

Red and Yellow Leaves I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

This is a short hike on a gated dirt road, from Armes Gap on Route 116, to the old prison coal mines above Brushy Mountain Prison (or State Correctional Facility, or Penitentiary). Although not listed as an official camp site on the (1993) Frozen Head State Park trail map, at the end of the road there are places suitable for tent camping. A camp fire site, a stack of wood, and two or three water streams (quality uncertain, boil and/or filter before drinking) were nearby. The walk ascends somewhat steeply at the beginning, descends slightly, and then finishes mostly level.

Second Mine Entrance The route follows a well cleared and maintained road. At the fork pictured above, take the left fork. The right fork ascends to the Frozen Head tower.

The second mine entrance, at the end of the road, is pictured at left. The first mine entrance (photo above), has many fallen wooden timbers and a collapsed ceiling.


2 Story BuildingTwo-story guard or control building.


Several concrete buildings remain. Walls and roofs are cracking and collapsing. A thick iron cable and wooden rail ties remain on the ground near the mine entrance. The cable goes from the mine entrance to the two-story building. Topographic maps show a cable previously went down the mountain to the prison below.

Foundations and Small Buildings Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass. 1900.

35. In Paths Untrodden

IN paths untrodden,
In the growth by margins of pond-waters,
Escaped from the life that exhibits itself,
From all the standards hitherto publish’d—from the pleasures, profits, eruditions, conformities,
Which too long I was offering to feed my soul;
Clear to me, now, standards not yet publish’d—clear to me that my Soul,

Brushy Mountain Valley View That the Soul of the man I speak for, feeds, rejoices most in comrades;
Here, by myself, away from the clank of the world,
Tallying and talk’d to here by tongues aromatic,
No longer abash’d—for in this secluded spot I can respond as I would not dare elsewhere,
Strong upon me the life that does not exhibit itself, yet contains all the rest,
Resolv’d to sing no songs to-day but those of manly attachment,

2 Story Building Projecting them along that substantial life,
Bequeathing, hence, types of athletic love,
Afternoon, this delicious Ninth-month, in my forty-first year,
I proceed, for all who are, or have been, young men,
To tell the secret of my nights and days,
To celebrate the need of comrades.
View Into Mine
166. O Me! O Life!

O ME! O life!... of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;
Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;
Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

Foundation, Trees and Creek Answer.

That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

Thanks to Dr. E for the last four photos above.

Disclaimer: This is free information. Use at your own risk. This is only my opinion based on my experience. There is No guarantee of accuracy. I am Not responsible for anything that may happen to you because of using or not using this information.

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Quote of the moment
Execute their airy purposes.
~ John Milton, Paradise Lost. Book i. Line 430. ~

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