Cobalt Historical Society shares concerns regarding the future of two headframes

Mining history in the Town of Cobalt runs deep, but the future of two landmarks is in question.

The Cobalt Historical Society holds guardianship over the "Right of Way" and "Townsite" headframes, but the land they are on is owned by Ontario Northland Railway (ONR).

The ONR recently erected concrete barriers and "no trespassing" signs around both headframes and the company's communications manager, Renee Baker, told CTV News: "As you know, they’re very old and we just need to make sure that people that are accessing it on our property are going to be safe in doing so."

Maggie Wilson, the chair of the Cobalt Historical Society, is worried "that they’re calling them temporary barriers. Our concern is that temporary will turn out to be permanent."

Baker said it's "too soon to tell right now what remediation might take place in terms of the structures ... this is just the beginning phase of us making sure the sites are safe for people to use."

While Baker said some hazards on both sites have been identified, she said she is "not quite sure exactly what those are."

She said environmental and structural assessments will begin this summer.

In the meantime, the Cobalt Historical Society is awaiting word from Ontario Northland Railway to find out if its members can continue to access the properties to conduct maintenance and repairs when needed.

"If they should come down either through neglect or worse, it would be unimaginable. The people really identify with their mining heritage in town and these structures are very significant to people's lives here. As soon as they’re being threatened, they get upset with the thought they might be gone," Wilson said.

She said the headframes are often targeted by vandals and Baker said that concerns the ONR as well.