*NOTE: This page is modified and maintained by a separate entity other than SoCalFunPlaces.com.
If you have any questions, comments, complaints or gripes about this one page, feel free to contact Ryan. However, if you are going to email me requesting that I disclose the location of any of the below material…don’t waste your time. I found all of these locations myself by using 1 of 2 methods: either wandering blindly through the backcountry for countless weekends OR countless hours of researching topographical maps & satellite aerial photos. The last resource being very useful and FREE! I get dozens of emails every month from folks who would rather have somebody tell them how to get to secret locations rather than just exploring the wilderness & finding these locations for themselves. Trust me, you’ll get a pride-of-ownership feeling by finding these sites on your own. I also get dozens of emails from folks who would just like to chit chat. I like those ones. You guys can feel free to email me!
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Mine tunnels, shafts, adits, drifts, crosscuts, winzes, raises, and any workings which take you underground are extremely dangerous features which occur very frequently all throughout Southern California. DO NOT enter any mine without first gaining reliable, professional knowledge about mines/mine hazards/geology. Even then, specific safety equipment is required. Mine hazards include but are not limited to:
Unexploded Ordinance (blasting caps, dynamite, TNT, blasting powder – often times are burried in the dirt right beneath your feet),
Vertical Shafts (often times placed in the middle of the floor & covered – VERY dangerous),
Unstable Ceilings/Walls (century-old ceilings could give at any moment – especially with the vibrations of your walking),
Common Falling Rocks (a rock the size of a peanut, falling from a couple hundred feet up, can easily penetrate the unprotected skull causing instant death),
Rotting Timber (not only does it weaken what it was supposed to be supporting, it produces poisonous gasses which can be completely undetectable until it’s much too late)
Please don’t take chances.
Ghost Towns, Mining Camps, Abandoned Mines, Various California Adventures
The following is a comprehensive list of some of the different adventures that I, along with several of my closest friends, have taken since the year 2000 A.D.. Even though a lot of the locations that we have visited aren’t actually in “SoCal”, I felt that they are close enough & amazing enough that every adventure-seeking Californian should take a chance to get out, get dirty & really check out what this great state has to offer.
I doubt that I will settle down and start to do nothing on the weekends anytime soon so I can guarantee that this list will grow very large with the following years to come. I love to share my experiences so I always try to take pictures & give a detailed account of the areas we’ve explored.
Enough rhetoric, on to the adventures…
Lucerne Valley- east of SH 247
One of the largest uninhabited stretches of BLM desert in Southern California. Lucerne Valley, generally speaking, is a collection of several different OHV areas whose boundries are from the base of the north side of Big Bear/San Bernardino Mountains, north to Barstow & from just east of the 15 freeway all the way to the Yucca Valley/Joshuah Tree area.
There is said to be around 200 different mining claims & around 100 various little to huge petroglyph sites in the area. We have just barely scratched the surface of what is to be found in this area & we have already spent several years scrounging around here.
Looking north from high up on Ord Mountain. I took this picture while looking for the fabled petroglyph Springs that are in this canyon. I never made it. This is Eriksen Dry Lake in Tyler Valley which is just to the south of Ord Mountain. This picture looks west toward West Ord Mountain. This is a really cool little gazebo structure that we found out on Camp Rock Road. This spot is on the east side of Ord Mountain.
These are the remains of a miners cabin up on the western slopes of Ord Mountain. This particular area was very heavily mined for gold & stone walkways pave paths all over the place here to give “easy” access to all the mine tunnels. Here is one of the tunnels just above the cabin foundation. Unfortunately, my flashlight died first thing on this trip so I couldn’t explore the tunnels. They went back much farther than I could safely travel I know that. I’ve yet to return to this area. I found a tiny penlight in my car which worked very poorly so I was only able to travel about 100 yards into the mine. You can see from this picture that this tunnel has been filled halfway up with water at some points which isn’t surprising since…..
…this tunnel, which was in the same area, had about 6+ inches of water sitting in the entrance. The water went back about 50 yards where it looked like it may have stopped, or there was a slight cave-in. Either way, I’d love to explore this tunnel via personal raft sometime! This is the view at the entrance of the water-filled tunnel. This great view is looking in a west, north-westerly direction. The pool in the foreground had a metal sign telling how it was an important water resource for local animals. It says to not come within 600 feet of the pool…..”sorry, Dept of Fish & Game”!! Here is the entrance to the non water-filled tunnel. Markings all around the area identified this as the Circle T Mine. I can find ZERO mention of a Circle T mine anywhere on the net or elsewhere. Someday I am definitely coming back to this area….this time with a flashlight!
a little place called Camp Skee
While studying topographical maps of the Lucerne Valley / Rodman Mountains one day, I came across some symbols on the map which were unmistakable markings for structures & mine tunnels. There was also the word “cabin” next to the symbols, something which I haven’t seen since on a map. Needless to day, my interest went through the roof & I packed up the adventure mobile & headed out to where Camp Rock Road strolls by the Rodmans.
To my surprise, there was already somebody else visiting this remote area. The cabin, which I’ll rejoice, is STILL pretty much completely intact. Unfortunately it was being used as a personal camping spot so we only took pictures. Foundations of other cabins are scattered thru out the area. I date this place to be about 100 years old. I’m sure this area gets little to no traffic all year long, this must have been like rush-hour on this particular day. It would be a great area to camp in for the weekend as it is the perfect base camp for any hiking, mine exploring, rock hounding, off-roading, petroglyph seeking, wildlife viewing adventure.
This is a cool little tunnel on the opposite side of the ridge where the cabin is. It went about 1000 feet back into the hill where it shot straight up through a raise which reached the surface. This small adit sits right next to where the cabin is. It only went back about 75 feet.
Gold Belt Mine
This is a mine that I read about in a great online article (hyperlink removed due to being taken down) . This mine was slightly disappointing; it’s supposed to have 3 different levels with shafts & raises linking each level. The entrance that I found was a tiny (and unbelievably hazardous) hole in the ground which was dug into the hillside, right next to a large (and even more hazardous) shaft that was sunk straight down into the bowels of the mountain. Which, if you think about it, leads me to believe that the shaft lead to another lower level of this mine which I must have missed on the way up the mountain. A lengthily rappel down into this shaft would most likely reveal unexplored areas of this mine. It was still an adventure though, leading us about 900 feet into the heart of Goat Mountain.
Look closely….this is the hole you get to crawl into if you would like to enter this mine! NOTE fellow explorers: a caved in mine entrance usually indicates unstable material such as loose sand/rocks, weak tunnel walls and should send mental red flags in your mind telling you that another cave in is likely if you enter. We dove straight in. This is just inside the entrance of the hole, you can see the light from the small opening in the background. Luckily the rest of the tunnel was at least 6 feet tall all the way back so it was easier to walk through than it was to enter.
Rodman Mountains Petroglyph site
The Rodman Mountain Petroglyph site is just one of those very very good reasons to get out NOW & explore the Mojave before prescious sites like this get discovered by idiots who see nothing wrong with demolishing & destroying historical property, ruining entire desert experiences for many people, forever. If you’re caught altering these sites in any way these days, I believe it’s about a $90,000 fine + possible jail time. That sounds just about fair to me. Luckily this particular site is relatively spotless, except for a couple recent crude scratchings in the rock which will be gone in a hundred years, these petroglyphs are in pristine condition. Some of them have been accurately dated back to about 10,000 years old. We know this to be a fact because there is a certain desert fungus that grows over the rocks in the desert. This fungus takes about 10,000 years to form and a few of the petroglyphs are completely covered in this fungus. They are extremely important in understanding how life even came to be in this part of the world, my favorite drawing is that of a 10,000 year old flying craft. Flying crafts are actually easy to believe considering that about 200 yards from this site, there are 2 rock formations built into the ground which can only be seen…..from the air. One rock “intaglio” is of a rams horn & the other of a boomerang. These intaglios are fenced in for their protection but it also makes them easy to find in this flat landscape.
Here is the drawing that I believe to be that of a flying craft. It looks remarkably similar to a modern Cessna airplane, wouldn’t you think? OR, maybe it’s a diagram for advanced canal building techniques? Either way, it’s a mystery. Various etchings in the rock.
Warriors with shields, spirals, bighorn sheep seemed to be the style of the day. I believe this is a “Chuckawalla” lizard. This guy was sunning himself next to the petroglyph canyon & he would only move when my encroaching fingers came into the picture (top-right).
“I don’t know, maybe a sunrise??” Flower showing it’s roots. Maybe implying that the knowledge of what life needs to survive was already known at that time…? Another one.
“The Underground City” – — Mine, —-, CA New, improved & 100% censored for you looters!
**UPDATE** – the Underground City has been blasted shut by the property owners. Entrance into its underground workings is no longer possible. There isn’t anything interesting to see outside either. Please do not email me asking about its location.
The — Mine in —- definitely has been one of the most unbelievable experiences I’ve ever had while exploring underground places. This place is just huge. So huge in fact that the United States Government (Department of Defense) used the place as a Civil Defense Facility during the 1960’s, turning it into a massive stockpile of drums of water & tins of biscuit mix to be used incase the pinkos nuked us! I don’t think the Cuban Missile Crisis helped the situation out much either! All of the supplies were marked as being stocked in 1962….intriguingly close to that period of US history. **Update Note: Our government became “aware” of the Cuban Missle Crisis in October of 1962. After looking over the supplies from this fallout shelter again, they were marked as stocked in February 1962. Was the military actually aware of the goings on in Cuba & Russia – 8 months before they let on to it?? Facinating.** —- is the town that sprang up next to the canyon where the mine is and that is where all the miners lived & all the offices that belonged to the mine were there. There is also a runway with the foundations of a control tower next to this ghost town. It was once a very large operation; mining Gypsum by the way. Nowadays, —- is nothing more than a bunch of concrete slabs where the houses & offices & control towers used to be. In the winter months it gets “inhabited” by hordes of retirees sporting massive RV’s& taking advantage of the beautiful scenery & mild winter climates. Some of them you can tell set up camp there for months. To get to the actual site of the — Mine though, you pass through —- & make your way back into the canyon behind the town site. Here you will find good camping with zero souls in site.
This is actually the insanely treacherous entrance to the tunnels. To gain access to the mine, one must scramble down a massive incline shaft that was sunk at about 45+ degrees into the mountain. You could fit a family home inside the opening & the entire complex of tunnels pretty much keeps this scale. “HUGE”. A resting point in the maze of tunnels. They go up & over & down & out all over the place. There are 2 options in this photo alone! I’m sitting on the rock wearing a collared button-down dress shirt & under T-shirt with jeans on! What was I thinking?! It’s like I was going to a job interview down there or something! There was quite a bit of writing on the walls as you can see in this pic. I never understood defacing property by painting crosses. What’s the message?! You can’t really tell but at this point in the mine, we were climbing up a raise that was built at about a 30 degree angle. From where the picture was taken, the raise goes down about 600 feet to a lower tunnel. About 8 times along this shaft there were side-shutes which all had wooden ore-hoppers built into them. The rails in the pic carried a large machine, which is still halfway down the shaft, which moved up & down the tracks depositing loads of gypsum in the proper ore bins. At the top (behind the picture taker) there was a massive wench that pulled the machine on steel cables. VERY interesting operation.
All along this tunnel there lay a large train track. The tunnel was large enough for a locomotive to roll through. All along the tracks there were incline shafts that sunk to the lower tunnels. If you feel as adventurous as we did that night, you’ll scamper down these shafts & explore for hours & hours more. Here is a great shot! This part of the mine had hundreds of yards of tunnels that were filled with 2 items of survival….tons of barrels of water & tons of tin boxes of “Survival Biscuit Mix”. All the barrels of water were empty & rusted but there are still boxes upon boxes filled with biscuit mix tins. The string in the foreground is a power line which used to run the entire length of the mine. I don’t condone taking anything from any mine but I’ll have you know that there is a large shiny tin of “Survival Biscuit Mix” on display in my living room! I just had to. Now right about here, a buddy of mine decided he needed to climb up a rusted piece of 50 year old metal pipe leading up a shute. The dark spot you see beyond is the night sky outside. There are countless places along the way in these tunnels where you come across a shaft which leads straight up & out into the open. This is very comforting news for anybody who is worried about poisonous gasses getting trapped down here. There is a nice breeze along these corridors which basically leaves NO time for gasses to collect. I love not having to fear sudden death by gas while exploring underground!
Here is one of those shafts which lead straight up & out of the mine, revealing the sky beyond. It’s actually a pretty cool sensation to have after crawling around subterranean tunnels all night long! The moon peaked through this particular shaft making for an interesting picture. This side room housed some sort of winch contraption that pulled ore carts from the shafts below. I believe this ore chute went up to the room where the winch contraption was held.
This was a cool “street corner” that we came across. It came complete with a vintage style street light & hobo. …wandering countless miles upon miles of large mine tunnels… Here we are climbing up into a large multi-shuted ore-hopping station. This is a small part of a large room which housed 4 of these stations.
Posing for a photo op next to the large ore-hoppers
Independence, California is a small town on Highway 395 between Bishop and Lone Pine, in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have gone to a small campground called Grays Meadows there ever since I was a little boy. The campground is situated right on Independence creek, just outside of town & it gives one of the best stream fishing experiences I have ever experienced in my life. Now mind you, I’ve lived in the Colorado Rockies & Washington State for a while too & Independence STILL crushes them all!!! Of course, it’s all probably psychological, stemming from wonderful memories I have of the place but still…for me, it just can’t be beat. There has been years when I’ve gone there & not a single fisherman in camp has caught a single fish, not even a bite, yet for some reason, I think I may know why, I always come out with my limit….before noon! Other years, such as last year (the unbelievable summer of 2002) every fisherman in camp catches their limit as well, but I will come out with the catch of the day. Last summer I landed the largest Rainbow Trout I have ever had the pleasure of wrestling at the end of a line. It was the first time I ever saw a metal tag from the DFG in a fishes lip! I think this place just knows who I am. Every spring I can lounge around the stream banks underneath the oversized pine trees next to the creek, listening to the breeze blow through them & just know that they are welcoming me back to yet another year of unbelievable experiences & unforgettable memories with my friends & family. Now that I am am a bit older & a bit more adventuresome, I have had the pleasure of exploring some of the back roads of the area & some of the great mines of the Inyo Mountains too.
This is definitely a work in progress, I already have some very large mines in the area lined up to be explored….just as soon as the creek thaws out!
You can see cinder cones like this & a lot of other evidence of volcanic activity while driving north on the 395. This is Lower Grays Meadows in late winter. A bit too early for an enjoyable trip! The stream water was SO cold this time that when they stocked it wish fish, within 24 hours all the fish were floating belly up….dead from freezing to death! Wish I had a picture of THAT. This picture looks west at Independence Peak. This is arguably the best the best camp site in Grays Meadows. It’s the southern most campsite there. It’s big, it’s so close to the creek that you could roll into the water while sleeping & it’s quite secluded. The only problem is that it’s always the very first campsite to go. The only reason we got it this time was because like I said, it was a bit too early in the season & for the first time in my life, we were the ONLY campers in the entire area!
There is a cool museum right in town here. It has a bunch of artifacts from the area including lots of indian
Takin a break in the outhouse.
There is a cool spot on Independence Creek where the water is funneled through a cement shoot, pouring out into a small waterfall at the other end. It’s the perfect size to send a raft through so we had to give it a try.
Just east of town, you can take Mazourka Canyon Road to Kearsarge, an old train depot on the Owens River. Nowadays, there is absolutely nothing where the train depot used to be. It is however, the beginning of a long, deep canyon that goes all the way up into the Inyo Forest. I was able to park next to a large ore hopper at the entrance to the canyon for a nice photo op. With a high clearance vehicle, this road at the beginning of the canyon will take you to some nice views of the Owens Valley & the Eastern Sierras. With a 4×4, you can take this road even further to what I believe are some good sized mines. I’ve yet to explore this area too much. There was a lot of this kinda stuff in the area.
As far as I’ve seen, this is about as far back as any tunnel goes in this canyon. Although, this is the ONLY tunnel I’ve been into in this canyon & I’m positive that there are more, larger ones. Next summer should prove to be good one for finding new spots in this area. When I first saw this up on a hillside, I thought for sure it was a grave site. Turns out it’s just a mining claim marker. Which makes since because this whole area looked mined out & there were a couple collapsed tunnels on the other side of this hill.
UPDATE!! – June/7th and 8th
From left to right: Scotty fanageling with his tangled rats nest of a line, Eric pullin in large trout, Jeremy trying his damndest in a really good spot. This is the weir on Independence Creek, our camping & fishing spot for the weekend. Just about 5 minutes south of Independence is the old Manzanar “Relocation” Camp. Across the highway from that is a dirt road leading to some really great hidden fishing spots. This large pond collects where Shepard Creek meets the California Aqueduct. The Shepard Creek “sandtrap”. Out in the middle of the desert, this place actually has some nice shade to enjoy the day under. I saw a trout in the water here that was about 3 feet long…we didn’t catch a thing here though.
Back at camp at the weir.
We’ll be back … as soon as the cubic flow rate is down in the creek. It was just too high & fast this weekend. Also probably a bit too cold from it being fresh snow melt.
UPDATE!! – July/26th and 27th
Ah yes, another memorable weekend at the Lower Grays Meadow campground in Independence, California. On this particular trip I experienced a CLASSIC story of “the big one that got away”! It’s a long story so ask me about it sometime. All I can say here is that it invloves me, a 2.5′ long Rainbow Trout, & me again – wrestling the fish & the pole in the middle of the pond in about 10′ of water! Wish I had photos of that one. We still caught our limit by that time though so everything was great as usual in the Owens Valley this weekend.
A view of our campsite – right on Independence Creek. You can find good fishing right here… …here…
…or here… …or even here. Another view of the campsite. This time you get to see the table.
This time you get to see Eric walking by the table. He’s not holding a beer at 8:00am is he? Ashley posing in front of Independence Peak. Eric reelin them in down on the grassy banks.
He picked a good spot so I just walk right on by. A view of the Alabama Hills & Owens Valley from the campground. Desert scenery on the way home.
Sunset in the Mojave.
Of course, I caught twice as many as anybody else this weekend…
Like I always say….we’ll be back…
UPDATE!! – September 26th, 27th & 28th
No photos Yet. I can tell you that the weather was great, the fishing was unbelievable & we even had some newcomers to enjoy it with us. Also got a nice trip to the Reward mine in…
Scroll down to see the original writeup…..click here to view the update
Some of my most favorite expanses of country in California is the Sierra Nevada & Inyo Mountains. Before I ever even got into mine exploring, I had been coming up here for decades; just enjoying the good fishing & great scenery. Come to find out however, much to my delight, there is also tons of great mine/ghost town exploring to be had around here. Now that has to make for some of the funnest weekends one could possibly have in this great state; fishing the gurgling creeks of the Sierras by day & exploring HUGE mines by night!! YEAH baby! We explored the Reward mine on the same weekend of our fishing trip to Independence Creek; mentioned in the report above. There is even some good fishing by this mine. Gotta love it.
Catching the sunset from the entrance of the Reward mine. Time to go in so we just drive right on through. Youcan see the hood of the Explorer in the foreground. This “road” goes in about 2000 feet into the mountian… …at which point we got out of the car & explored a few thousand more feet on our own 2 feet.
The first set of ladders we come across go up about 30 feet then become very corroded. Had to move on. Another set of ladders, all leading up to the level above us, went up & were very corroded as well. Only found 1 set of ladders in this entire lower level that were solid enough to climb. I kept forgetting that I was the only one with a head-lamp though so we couldn’t climb any of them. Come on up Jeremy, you don’t need a flashlight! He chickened out & couldn’t chimney up this small shaft so I went ahead without him & lucky for him too…at the top of this shaft I thought I was in a whole new level in the mine but it turns out you could catch a side adit in the main tunnel & get to this area without the climb.
If you walk down that side adit for a bit you come across this large haulage shaft that reaches up a long ways & into darkness. The angle is about 45 degrees. Keep going past that haulage shaft & the side adit will end at this small access shaft which was only big enough to place a ladder in. You can see the angle of the shaft & ladder in this photo – about 60 degrees. That ladder went up & down a long ways. This shot is looking down.
Coming out of that side adit & nearing the main drive-in tunnel. This was yet another ladder that gave obvious acces to the upper levels but we didn’t try it.
Reward Man in the limelight.
UPDATE – Reward/Eclipse/Brown Monster Mine!! – September 26th, 27th & 28th
No photos yet, we only got a couple anyway. We didn’t drive in this time but we did explore what I’m guessing was the entire first level. Time to move on to the other levels next time!
Hauser Geode Beds
The Hauser Geode Beds are out by Blythe, CA off the 10 Freeway. To get there you exit on Wiley Well Road, next to the State Prison. If you like rock-hounding, mine exploring, lost treasure hunting and/or beautiful desert scenery….this is a great place to visit. There are 2 campgrounds on Wiley Well Rd but I strongly suggest passing those up & finding your own primitive campsite. I think I remember them costing $25 per night & the only running water they had there was heavily treated Fluoride water, pumped by yourself from a well. Fluoride water is great for fighting cavities but if you want drinking water for an entire weekend, you’ll have to bring your own. Which basically renders those campgrounds useless. You can camp anywhere in the area here, just as long as your not more than a couple hundred feet from the road. I suggest hunting for a very small sign on the right side of Wiley Well Road which indicates a path to “Ashley Flats”. That’s probably some of the best & most secluded camping in the area. The mines in the area are off of The Bradshaw Trail.
The end of the road to the Hauser Geode Beds. There are trails going all over the place from here and they all seem to lead to good rockhounding spots. High up on a ridge near the Geode Beds. Good view from here. The same ridge looking north toward the Orocopia Mountains.
Lots of Ocotillo on the way to the Geode Beds. Here the road is going through Ashley Flats. It’s FLAT here & the ground is all volcanic ash. One of the many wash crossings on the way to the Geode Beds. Luckily none of them required 4 wheel drive.
This is the turn-off to get to the Opal Hill Mine. We haven’t seen that place yet. On location at one of the mines along the Bradshaw Trail. This was the only one I was able to check out on this trip due to a dead battery – long story. The main adit was in front of my car about 75 yards. The main adit. It looked very unstable inside & the tunnel didn’t look like it went very far so I backed out. You can’t tell from the photo but just above me at this point, there was a vertical shaft that was half-way filled up with fallen debris. It looked like it could go at any time.
The hillside above the main adit was all dug out, connecting to the tunnel below & was kept stable by wooden supports. This shaft connected to the adit as well. It might actually make for interesting rappel. Yet another shaft that looked like it connected with the main adit. This mine was mostly vertical shafts, connecting to unknown levels of the mine. I’m going to have to come back to this area again & finish up what I started…
Silver Lake Talc Mines
The almost non-existant ghost town of Silver Lake is about 8 miles north of Baker, CA on Highway 127. The only thing left of this townsite is a few building foundations and a small fenced in cemetery. Neither of which I have pictures of. Silver Lake was situated right on the old Tidewater & Tonopah Railroad; a major railroad a century ago which serviced a lot of different mines from Soda Lake, thru Death Valley & on to Nevada. Silver Lake was somewhere in the middle. The actual mine site of Silver Lake, a rather large one by the way, was about 3 miles north-east of the town up in the Silurian Hills. When we made the trip up to the Silver Lake Mines in January of 2003, there was a massive desert construction project in the area which was burying a large pipe of some kind all the way through the desert towards Vegas. The construction made it completely impossible to continue on the road to the mines so when we arrived at the area at around midnight, we could not find an alternate road for the life of us. We just knew that if it were daytime, we not only would probably be able to SEE the mines, but we would surely be able to find a side road that by-passed the construction. Unfortunately it being midnight, it was obviously not day time & very dark out so we spontaneously decided to up & go to Las Vegas! Hey, we were only 90 miles from Las Vegas already….why not?!
While coming back from LV the next day however, I looked at all the sleeping faces in my car & decided to let them sleep in peace while I go search for a way to the mines again! Just as long as I made it to the mine site before they woke up, everything would be OK. Otherwise, I’m sure they would have yelled & beaten me for waking them up the rest of the way to the mines. To my discomfort, I noticed that my good buddy, the one who likes to sleep the most, was starting to wake up by the time I got halfway to the mines. I did not dare look at him & invite a critique of the situation! All of a sudden he spoke up, “Are we going back to the mines?” “YUP” I said. “Awesome.”, he replied!! Great! Now it was only a matter of time & it was looking like I wouldn’t have to make this adventure alone…
“This isn’t really what I had in mind for this trip, guys!” I was right, you could easily see the large mining operation up on the hillside by the time you got to the construction area. After easily by-passing that, this large ore-hopper was visible at the base of the Silurian Hills. So I had to jump into it for a photo op.
Just above where we parked, this large glory hole gave treacherous access to several entrances to what looked like the same tunnel. After looking at this feature for a while it became apparent that this probably was never a glory hole at all…it looks to me like a massive cave-in that revealed the network of underground tunnels. Just on the other side of that ore hopper, this shaft went straight down for about 60 feet. The ladder that I’m standing on wouldn’t even be stable enough for a kitten to climb down. It’s been out in the open & exposed to the desert environment for the last hundred or so years so I’m surprised it’s even still there. Another entrance into the Silver Lake Mines. Unfortunately, this one was all caved in. No access here…
Finally, an entrance. This was the only tunnel in the area that we saw that was not caved in. There wasn’t a single tailing pile around here either so it was very hard to find. We were actually about to leave, disappointed that we hadn’t found much when we almost walked right past this tunnel. Silver lake mine was an interesting one. Not just a long tunnel that went straight back. Here was a side room with braces all over the place and a platform in the middle of the room that led to another small tunnel. A dead-end at the end of the tunnel. Notice the ore cart tracks on the floor, they lead straight into another cave-in. I guess you can’t expect a talc mine to be very stable.
Another reason why this mine is an interesting one. I think I’m climbing up into some kind of ore-hopping station that shot off from the main tunnel. To tell you the truth, I don’t even remember this part of the mine! I had to cross-reference with the clothes I am wearing in the pic just to verify that this is inside the Silver Lake! Looking down into an incline shaft. It is an easy slope to climb down but it ends within a few yards of it’s start. For this shot I got to crawl up into a stope that looked like it had been used for sleeping quarters. But that couldn’t have been it’s use; I sure as hell wouldn’t sleep in a mine after working all day in it.
Cetopa, CA – Death valley NP
This was my very first trip up into DVNP and it was all that I imagined it could be! We camped out at the Midnight Mine the first night & woke up to a great view of the Midnight & its furnicular, the canyon we were in, the talc mine across the valley & the vastness of DV in the far background. This place is great. There are about 6 different mines in this general area, all of which have multiple entrances & many underground workings to explore. I was in mine-exploring heaven by about 7am the first morning! The Midnight, #2, #3, & Peace Dove mines are all within walking distance of each other & from certain vantage points in the valley, you can snap a good photo with all of them in the picture. You know how I said we camped out at the Midnight Mine the first night? Well somehow, while driving up to it at 1am the night before, I missed a BLM marker that identifies the spot as being in a Wilderness Area (no motorized vehicular travel of any kind whatsoever, may God have mercy on your soul if the rangers find you). The Midnight actually sits just inside this boundary so we promptly moved our camp to the base of the tailings pile at #2 which is just outside of the boundary. It was a much better campsite anyway! Although, come to find out later on, that marker is falsely placed & no existing road can be added into any Wilderness Area anywhere – so camping at the Midnight is just fine.The great thing about this place is that, most likely, you won’t see another soul the entire time you are there. You can see the main road in the distance & we saw a total of 3 cars drive through the entire weekend. None of them dared come up the dirt road that leads to the mines. It wasn’t a slow weekend either; only a few miles away, a small town was pretty much packed with sight-seers but none of them made their way towards the Midnight area. We explored the canyons & the mines for 2 days straight & I have yet to explore everything. Someday soon I’ll come back & show the rest of the mine explorers this place.
Deep inside the Midnight. This was the first real sign of life in the mine, all around us here are workings & boarded up areas that used to house a small utility shack & a large winch room that brought ore up from the lower levels. A very nice accent piece was inside the utility room. Here I am making my way down, down, down into the bowels of the mountain. That winch room I was talking about is directly behind the picture taker here & the ore carts it hauled up came up through the open space that is to the left of me.
Here is the utility room itself. You can see shelving on the far right & left in the picture which were basically all cleaned out. I don’t know what I was doing on the ground, maybe scrounging through all the hundred year old trash that was around. This is documentation of a ridiculous little episode I had to go through in the Midnight…..I was up on a platform looking down an ore shoot into an inaccessible room when I bumped my glasses against a low beam, one of the lenses popped out & fell about 15 feet down an ore shoot into this inaccessible room! So here I am at the bottom of this ore shoot performing surgery on my glasses. Half blind. Pitch black around me. In a precarious unstable ore shoot! luvin it. This is the main incline shaft at the #2 Mine. It’s the only way into the main part of the mine so we climbed these ladders about 250 down into the lower tunnels.
A bit blurry but this is actually where the main tunnel in the Midnight exits the other side of the mountain. In the far background that’s me walking out onto an old track tressle that spanned a large wash. A good view of the #3 mine on the other side of the wash. This is one of the most breath taking views I’ve ever seen while mine exploring! You can see the #3 mine in the background…..the tracks that lead to the right go straight into the Midnight tunnel.
Another shot of those tracks heading out over the wash. Ashley sitting on a bench in front of the #3 mine headframe. This is the view that Ashley had while sitting on that bench. Beautiful weather in DV that weekend, eh?!
An ore hopper in front of the #3 mine. You can still see that tressle in the background. The upper “entrance” to the #3 mine. I’m crouching in here looking at a large stope room that dropped dangerously out of site into the mountain. Hard physical evidence of some good clean fun going on. She’s covered from head to toe in powdery mine dirt.
Inside the remains of a cabin, looking up at the tailing pile from the Midnight. That same cabin from the outside.
This view is looking at the exit of the mine from across the wash.
Looking down the wash towards the #3 mine.
This is down inside the main incline shaft. The wall on one side of the shaft has broken through to a large room on the other side. Inside this room, at the far end, you can catch an adit that leads to other side workings…making this just one of the many various sub levels of the Midnight.
Here I am looking out over the tressle.
Climbing up into the winch room at the top of the main incline shaft.
UPDATE!! – 03/29
OH man, this mine is starting to frighten me! From the looks of the pictures from the first trip to this complex, you can probably guess that I couldn’t wait to come back…this time with a different fellow veteran mine explorer. I made this trip for the second time with the most daring, hardcore, stupid mine-exploring friend of mine, Scotty. It wasn’t just my girlfriend & I this time so we were free to explore the most ridiculous of all crawl spaces & we discovered some of the most extreme terrain that we’ve ever encountered underground. So incredibly extreme, in fact that ONE of us ended up vomiting profusely towards the end of the experience! ONE of us, I won’t mention who, expedited their trip MUCH too fast through the intense parts of the mine, in hopes that their survival would be that much more preserved and in the end….it ended up getting the best of him. Just one small example that these mines will mess you up if you don’t take it easy, go slow, & use extreme caution in taking care of your body….especially when you’re 600 feet below the surface of Death Valley & your literal survival depends on your well being! On this particular occasion, we explored the lower most levels of the mine via the same incline shaft that was gone over in the first report. We came across sub-levels, several hundred vertical feet down the shaft, that I never even dreamed of. It’s amazing when you’re climbing down, down, down, for hundreds of feet & you keep running across tunnels that run perpendicular to the main incline shaft. These sub levels that we came upon made for about 8 hours of some of the most fun I’ve ever had.
I actually came back AGAIN the weekend after this trip but didn’t have a camera. On that trip, with a different friend, we explored even MORE hidden areas of the lower levels of this mine & I realized, in a very very big way, that I probably haven’t even explored HALF of this 1 single mine!!! (I haven’t even ventured to the upper levels of the Midnight…YET). Absolutely amazing.
Soon after you enter the mine, you’ll come across an intersection….a 5 corner intersection! Adits leading left & right and one big hole right in the middle of the floor leading straight down for a distance so far the flashlights wouldn’t reach the bottom. Luckily there are some nice vintage planks to walk over to get to the other side!
Just past the main shaft in a side adit, there are these random stopes which lead down into the lower workings. About 6 feet in front of where Scotty is standing here, I found a stick of dynamite on ANOTHER later trip to this mine. On the later trip, we ended up exploring even MORE sub levels to the mine, finding more than just dynamite.
This is the site you see when you come upon the main incline shaft. That 45-degree incline you see here is accurate to the shaft & at the top of the photo you can see where the shaft leads up into the winch room.
From the lower depths of the shaft, this view is looking up about 100 feet towards the top. You still have a lot of climbing to do from here!
This is actually a VERY interesting part of the mine. About 150 feet down the shaft, a side adit complete with rails runs perpendicular to the incline.You can barely make out the ladder going up on the right side of the photo, diving beneath this side tunnel & going down for another 100 feet.
Traveling down that side adit a ways, we came across several ladders which led up into some stopes and, you guessed it….more sub levels of the Midnight mine! In the background of the photo you can almost see the shape of an ore cart, standing up on it’s end.
The lower-most levels of the Midnight here. Were so far down the main shaft that the ladder has disappeared& shaft is beginning to level out & into a final dead-end.
About halfway down the shaft in another side adit, you can find this large room which leads down into a stope & back around to the ladder of the main shaft.
At the exit of the mine, looking out over the ravine towards the Grant mine. If you look VERY closely you can see ttrr.org creator John A. McCulloch’s truck resting next to the Grant mine in the far right. It was a nice surprise to meet him there that morning!
UPDATE!! – 05/23-24
Once again we headed out to the Cetopa Consolidated mining district for some good clean adventure. This time we passed the turnoff to the Midnight area & kept going about a mile to the turnoff for the Gunsight mine. This was the very first time we attempted the Gunsight and even though it was 2:00am on a Saturday morning, we accurately navigated our way back to the Gunsight mining camp, back into a canyon from there & up a VERY faint road that led up a small canyon & to the entrance of the “Level 4” in the Gunsight mine. By then it was about 3:00am and a very nice 75 degrees outside. After inspecting the entire Level 4 and also returning to the beginning to Level 3 at the ore hopper, we decided that any extensive workings in the Gunsight were too treacherous for us to climb to so at about 5:00am and the sun just starting to peak over the Nopah Range, we happily headed, once again, a couple miles away to the Midnight area! We decided that we have already conquered the Midnight several times before this trip so we stopped at the Columbia mine. I knew this mine, just like the Gunsight, would get too treacherous for us to navigate to the very bottom of this VERY vertical mine. But I also knew that we could still get in some semi-safe ladder travel & after that we could get to Cetopa & into those hot springs!
The ummm….main incline shaft/entrance around the backside of the hill that the Columbia is in… …luckily there is this nice adit just down the hill from that which accesses the same ladder that we wanted to get to. Just inside that adit, looking toward the incline shaft. Heavy stoping in this area made a member of the group turn around & attempt none of this.
Further in that adit, Gary sits atop the main incline shaft… …this is what he was shining his flashlight down on. A 100 ft shaft sunk at about 45 degrees. Easy climbing. Yeah right! Outside that adit, looking back up the hill towards the main shaft that was in the first picture in this series.
Catching the sunrise from the top of the Columbia hill. This is the only photo from the Gunsight mine. Entering “Level 3” right on top of the main tailing pile.
On this trip to the Cetopa area we had a little unexpected treat wating for us in town …. Cetopa Days! The next morning while enjoying a soak in the nearby hot springs, a local told us of the festivities that were going on in town nonstop, all weekend long. That meant cold drinks! It was great fun while we were there & it’s a great idea that the town of Cetopa would do something like this. Hope to make it to another Cetopa Days someday soon.
Jam session under Rons 50′ rig. Playin some horseshoes & enjoying the nice weather. Scotty bustin a tune on a lazy Saturday morning in Cetopa, CA.
Relaxing…enjoying the view….watching the corn kernals getting pulverized by an antique machine.
And for all you high-bandwidth users out there in webland, or if you just have some time on your hands, check out these 15-second videos we took while on this trip to Cetopa. Most are of Cetopa Days….one is taken outside the entrance of the Columbia mine…
UPDATE – Peace Dove !! – 06/28
OK, this area is too cool & we’re starting to realize more & more just how much time we’ll most likely be spending here in the future. On this particular occasion we were searching for a secluded haulage tunnel for the Peace Dove mine. Well, we found it & explored only a VERY small portion of this mine. I’ve been in the Peace Dove once before but I had no idea of how huge it actually is. I should have know just by looking at that huge tailing pile it has sitting in front of it! Unfortunately the fellow explorer that I decided to bring along with me this time really wasn’t up for such an adventure. As soon as we arrived atop the tailing pile at about 1am this evening & I shined the cars headlights into the large tunnel, he became most apprehensive & all but begged me to take him home! Of course, if you happen to feel like this in any mine the wise thing to do is just succumb to your emotions & follow your instinct. This is supposed to be fun, not torture! So I left him outside to explore the back seat of the car & I warily wandered a good deal of the tunnels by myself. I was bummed though becau se I knew this mine would allow for some good climbing & scampering around but that’s just something I’ll have to wait another time for.
He actually went in a ways with me but this is on the way out! Good size tunnels in this place too. The tunnel goes in a ways before is reaches any workings. In some places along the way there are butresses & beams shoring up the tunnel. These ones weren’t as bad as others. Starting to come upon some signs of activity, a utility room of sorts opens up. Why do I get the feeling this was a ‘mechanics’ station in the mine? If you turn around you see…
…everything in this area seems to have oil smeared all over it.
A yellow arrow on the far wall points the way out. Anybody? Anybody?
I could guess but what’s yours?!
This area was near the last 2 photos. A breaker switch in a drift.
You can put stuff in it. Of all the options I was given, I stumble right up on the main incline shaft! …eep! Another massive black hole plummeting into the earth on a Friday night!
It’s damn big too! I just wish I wasn’t alone or I’d be able to keep pushin on & down. You can see the ladder/plankway that leads you down at just about a 30 degree angle. You can just stroll down…maybe next time.
Outside the Peace Dove haulage tunnel on a Saturday morning. Time for another one of our trademark dips in the hot springs right about now.
UPDATE – Peace Dove !! – 08/08
Made it back out to the Peace Dove to try & explore as much as we could. Of course, Scotty started crying & freaked out again so he’s 86’ed from underground places for life – or at least until he gets a qualified psychotherapist. Luckily we had another friend along with us so we sent Scotty on his merry way and Jeremy & I explored far reaches & many sub-levels of this mine. We followed the main tunnel for about a mile & a half back into the mountain! Along the way there are many stopes, drifts, the main incline shaft, verticle shafts going up & down & even underground access to another area mine – the Grant mine….this place is large. I’d have many great photos of this trip to show you but unfortunately it finally happened on this trip….I left all the photos along with the digital camera at the hot springs…I think. So it’s 35 mm film for a while now! Already planning another trip to seriously explore & map this mine out in the Fall time. Will update then.
Alvord Mine & Coyote Dry Lake
Above Barstow, by Coyote Dry Lake, you can find the Alvord mine. Back up in a canyon, past several intact remains of a once booming mining camp, you’ll come across 3 entrances to the workings of this gold mine. Although it’s not the most extensive of mines, it still has a couple levels that can provide a few hours of fun & it’s relatively close & easy to find. Next to the mountains that the mine is in, there is Coyote Dry Lake. For being just a 10 minute drive behind Barstow, there is usually nobody out there. Nestled snug between the Calico Mountain & the Fort Irwin Armoured Combat Training Centre, the huge dry lake & surrounding mountains are on BLM land so camping, offroading AND really good rock climbing opportunities are okay here. We’ve had the entire area all to ourselves on several different occasions making this place one of the nicest & closest desert locations around.
Here is the non-descript lower-most entrance to the Alvord mine. Posing next to an ore shoot which comes down from the upper levels. Scotty checking out a fenced in shaft.
This is about 60 vertical feet above the last photo, in the upper level. An almost identical scene of a fenced in shaft heading down towards the lower level. Back to the lower level, this small, slightly caved-in area gives access to some pretty amazing stopes that lead way up into the mountain. Just above the area in the last photo, this ladder gives access to the stopes.
Here at the top of the stope, after climbing up several sections & scampering across some rickety boards which had nothing but about a hundred feet of air between them & the ground, I’m looking back to the ladders that got me here.
Looking down into the stope from above. Scotty is down below, getting ready to freak out & turn back!
Ashley on the death cycle out on Coyote Dry Lake. The mountains in the background are the backside of the Calico mountains.
UPDATE – Alvord!! – 02/07
Back to the Alvord on a real nice little day jaunt with some new friends. The main adit is all sealed up now but this mine still makes for a fun 1/2 hour or so of underground exploring. With ropes & such, one could still see the entire mine but for now, a nice collection of photos from 2 different photographers will have to do. Very VERY nice pics by the way!
Afterwards, a quick jump over to the petroglyph site really made for a nice full day out. Snow on the backside of desert mountains was a scene I haven’t been able to enjoy in a long time. Hope to do it all again sometime soon…
Yup, all sealed up. A big ‘ol boulder right inside there too. Slightly better, this one is, yes. And in we jump.
Come on in it’s warmer inside! So we pick up our e-tickets at the front & here we are in line at the first attraction. And it’s gonna be a good one! Of course I’m past the proclaimation wandering down the tunnels.
Just enjoy the money shot while I check up in here for a bit.
Even though we’re in the top level, this ore shoot gave access to some pretty amazing stopes that went way up into the mountain & out into the open.
AHHHH! The reports of evil cave sloths were true. There’s one now!
HEY, how come I can’t see the bottom? Making our way up into some stoping and out into the glory exit. Nice large room here. There’s the exit just ahead.
It won’t be that easy though. To exit this way you’ll have to crawl up a slippery scree slope. The only reason this dangerous slope is even here is because a desert agency has bulldozed a ton of dirt into the exit. The grand exit. I’m already outside pondering my flashlight. Very Zen. Another view of the glory hole exit. Yes, that’s a people standing in there.
From atop the mine is a nice view of the road in. Here is what’s left of a once extensive mining camp…
I pissed Ashley off something good that day.
Not pictured: me high-tailing it down the wash.
Stedman & Ragtown
scroll down to see the original writeup..
An Historic marker next to Ragtown. It speaks of how Juhn Suter found the area back in the late 1800’s. Ended up calling the entire area (over 200 seperate mining claims) the Buckeye Mining District).
The hill on top of the Old Pete Mine. Old Pete aint much, you go in that hole ya see there and…
…you’d see this if you turned around to face the entrance. This comes to a cave-in after some ways but I believe it would go all the way through to the front side of the hill…
…Which is what you see when you first drive up on the place. Several entrances & diggings in the side of a small hill. This is looking out one of them. Just a few hundred yards from the Old Pete is The Red Dog mine. The large metal headframe has a ladder that goes down into the earth. Here’s Ashley climbing back out. Lets go to Stedman. Back up in a canyon next to Stedman there is a really cool little ghost town with several more “modern” structures. You know you’re getting close when you see this “gate”.
The first thing you see in this little community of past is this old beat up pickup. Sexy women posing on decrepid machinery was the norm here. Here is one of the more intact houses in the canyon. Complete with covered porch, rooftop patio, shower facilities & a BBQ!
Up on the nice rooftop patio you can see the Bagdad-Chase mine in the far background. Looking towrd the Bagdad-Chase from the road to that house. The view east from the Bagdad-Chase vicinity.
Out on Broadwell “Dry” Lake. This is the old site
of Broadwell where the TTRR railed through. All
that is left of the site is a couple wooden poles
sticking out of the ground & the grade where once
the railway traveled on.
Back to Ragtown, Ashley is posing on top of the Red Dog mine.
Attempt failed! Couldn’t find an entrance that wasn’t caved in or vertical so we high-tailed it to Death Valley & back to the Nooday mine for some guaranteed adventure! See the Midnight update above for brief mentions of that. The Waterloo will be attempted again soon…
UPDATE!! – 07/11
Went back out to the Calico area on a Friday night with some new friends to try & re-attept the allusive Waterloo. Of course, I got sick for the first time since like Christmas of ’01 so I had to go home first thing in the morning. Check out Mr. Joel Briggs’ website for a good writeup & photos of that trip. Maybe we’ll try it again someday…
Vincent Gap Area – Big Rock Creek Campground & the Bighorn Mine
If you ever find yourself in the Vincent Gap area near Wrightwood on the Angelus Crest Highway, just know that you’re near some great jumping off points for some really cool exploration locations. At the north end of Vincent Gap there is a dirt road leading down the canyon & out towards the desert towards Pearblossom. Taking that road just few miles down, you’ll come to Big Rock Creek Campground. While we were here on this busy summer weekend, there was 1 other campsite taken in the campground. It was a very secluded area with minimal traffic. Big Rock Creek is supposed to be stocked with OK creek fishing but it was dry as a bone when I went!
Stay tuned for some photos of the Bighorn Mine! We forgot to take photos so we’re going back soon this summer…
Relaxing at Big Rock Creek Campground. Another view of our campsite/women. Destroying some tastey BBQ’d chicken.
After camping in the desert for the last year I completely forgot about having to lock up your food while in the mountains! SO…. …we got about 2 hours of total sleep that night. The rest of the time was spent clapping our hands & throwing rocks at bears! This was at about 7am when they were still coming around. Notice I’m valiantly hiding behind the trees throughout this entire ordeal. Here is the South Fork Campground. More water in the stream here came with more campers onsite.
Just outside of South Fork Campground, there were some nice wading ponds & camp spots to chill out at right on the South Fork.
East Mojave National Preserve/Providence & Granite Mountains/Kelso Dunes/
Finally made it out to the East Mojave Preserve. It’s an area that everybody’s driven through a bunch of times before; whether you’re heading to Vegas & beyond or cruising Rt. 66 through the desert for any lenght of time, you’ll drive right past an amazing vast part of the Mojave that goes unseen by millions. I was fortunate enough to have a full 3 days & 3 nights with 3 good friends on this trip.
Showed up at Hole-In-The-Wall campground around midnight on a Friday night. Nice place, cool rock formations & volcanic plateaus all around. We didn’t stay here long as we had a bunch of things we wanted to do & places we wanted to see. I didn’t even get to see the climbing rings that help you up the hole in the wall! I’ll have to go back & check those out.
So we headed out first thing on a chilly January morning in the Preserve. It must have been quail season or something of the sorts…distant reports from shotguns across the valley could be heard every half hour or so. First stop was the Mitchell Caverns. Can’t go all the way out there without seeing the caverns! And of course with my lady being a Doors/Jim Morrison freak, we had to check out the cave they filmed the movie in! The tour was ok, lasted about an hour. The cave is a bit too civilized for me…they got paved sidewalks strolling throughout the entire place. I’ve only been to 1 other touristy cave – Cave of the Winds in central Colorado – and that one was pretty much a grotto expedition! Got way down into the earth there & into these massive underground rooms. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
Next stop was supposed to be Macedonia Canyon & the Columbia mine but after receiving some bunk info from a ranger not to go down that way, we headed for a different route. Straight through Foshay Pass in the Providence Mountains we go. It was supposed to be one of the tamest trails leading from the east side of the Providence range to the west. I doubt it! There had to have been good 40 ft. dips in the road with 45 degree inclines on them! Luckily only the downhills had major ruts in the road. The uphills were real smooth though…well smooth enough for my 2-wheel drive to get up! There would be absolutely no way I could have made it coming from the opposite direction. I would have gotten stuck at the top of the pass somewhere for sure. Guess I got lucky again.
But of course we finally make it over the pass & west toward the Kelso dunes, our next stop. Dunes are awesome! I’d never really gotten out & climbed around on actual dunes before so it was something new for me. These particular dunes are comprised of a fine silicate-glass type of sand, blown in from the Mojave River sink. When moved around in good quantities, the sand will emit a low rumbling (singing, humming, airplane, generator, diesel truck, etc…) sound. It naturally incites mass sillyness & entire groups will pitch themselves, butt first of course, down the steep-side of a dune! Great fun but the sun was going down & I had high expectations for some less-civilized camping amongst massive granite boulders. An awesome landscape occuring not far from the dunes & not unlike what you’re used to in Joshua Tree NP.
Camping on Saturday night did not disapoint! We discoverd another area that will just have to contend with one of the top 5 places I enjoy most in the Mojave! Camped amongst the large outcroppings of particularly gnarly granite. It was a beautiful landscape, dense with pinyon & joshua trees, sand washes & spectacular rock formations. There are a handful of legal campsites in the area & they’re spread out enough to where they can all be inhabited but you’d never ever know it. Tent camping at this elevation in January can prove to be damn cold though so that was it for our stint in the desert!
After breakfast & bouldering on Sunday morning we headed for Baker. We still had Sunday night & Monday before we even had to think about going home. With the 4 of us being sick of sleeping in 30 degree weather & somewhat recently paid, we opted for a shower, TV, bed & 4 walls for Sunday nights accomodations! I figured HEY, we can have a night on the town & whoop it up in Baker on a Sunday evening. After scouring the main stretch in Baker & finding ‘Bun Boy Motel’ being the cleanest joint in town…I said HEY, we’re only 90 miles from Vegas, why not??!!
So early afternoon on Sunday we head for Nevada. Got to watch everybodys favorite commercials on TV that night. Nice showers & fluffy queen size Vegas beds with local ales & buffets spread across the bed spreads that night. Had fun, bought fireworks at the Moapa indian reservation on Monday & returned home Monday night with smiles across the board.
pictures – pictures – where are the pictures….
Shiny Coral Mine, LD Mine & ghost camp, Whiteeagle Mine & mill
Update with photos!
In a land not too far away, and in a part of the desert that sees MUCH use on any given weekend, there is an area that is currently providing us with the unique opportunity to explore a freshly abandoned mining camp. Actually the main limestone quarry in the area was abandoned less than 1 year ago (May ’03). There are many structures, still mostly intact and many artifacts from the various mines in the area still lying around all over the place.While taking the main road into the area, you’ll pass the half-century old remains of the Shiny Coral Mine & its abandoned camp. The Shiny Coral was a smallish silver mine with still-standing buildings being its most extensive features these days. A good place for a couple photos.Taking the main road further back towards a certain range of mountains, dead ahead towards a large abandoned limestone quarry, you’ll stumble upon the LD Mine & Cabins. Once again, the half-dozen or so still standing structures are the main attraction at the LD Mine. But what an attraction they are. Most people, while stumbling upon this place for their 1st time, will assume that there most suredly still must be inhabitants of this camp. It’s just that well preserved. But rest assured…all the houses & chicken coups & mills & garages are all void of any life. Except for that Western Diamondback over there.
A great view of the Mojave Desert from the large cement porch of the main cabin makes for an enjoyable lunch spot, or just to kick back & enjoy it all for a bit. Time stands still on this property so it don’t really matter how you decide to enjoy yourself here.
This place is a desert-destroyers dream. A situation that could lead to any true desert-lover’s nightmare. Most of the structures are already splattered with quite a few different hues of paintballs – a sign that indicates dozens of folks already know of this place. The first few times I came & enjoyed the LD cabins, a natural spring had been flowing – for decades I’m sure – into a little homemade pool & water filling station. PVC pipes brought water from a flooded “adit” several yards down a hillside to the pool. Sadly, on a subsequent visit, a thoughtless vandal had smashed the PVC pipes & re-located them to about 10 yards east of the pool – spilling water uselessly into a wash and ultimately drying up the vintage pool completely. Ruining would could have been countless pleasant soaks in the pool for explorers who might have happened upon this spot in the hot summer months. The situation seems somewhat repairable but it just goes to show you…enjoy all these SoCal Fun Places while you can before they’re gone. And believe me, they’re going…quick.
Contouring west around the mountain will take you to the Whiteeagle Mine. Haven’t conquered the tire-biting roads that lead up to the actual mine & mill site so check back for an update of that! I DO know however that there are things definitely worth seeing up in the canyon that houses the Whiteeagle Mine. Structures & all. So there will be updates someday soon.
Pictures be coming…
…and they’re here!
!!Updated Stuffs!! (4/26/07)
Here begins a new era for the SoCalFunPlaces Desert Exploring writeups. Back by poular demand I am going to start updating this page with photos & stories again. Also by popular demand I am going to make all photos larger this time around! I will continue to censor any location name that cannot easily be found by searching the internet. Any location name that CAN be easily found by exploring Google; I will go ahead & disclose its name as you’ll eventually find the spot anyway if you search well enough. I am not an elitist but I will protect spots that have remained relatively hidden up to this point. So if I mention a fake location name – don’t ask me where it is. If I mention a real location name – don’t ask me where it is…you’ll find it in the search engines.
If you work for the Dept of Mine Reclamation and are concerned that I am depleting the bat population due to my exploring recently man-made sites – please choose another battle and subtract me from your special agenda. This goes for anybody who feels the need to repremand me for my hobby – go somewhere else please.
For those of you who share the same interests as I do – please DO contact me as I love chatting with like-minded friends! You may even want to come along on a trip with us.
And last but not least…again, this page is modified and maintained by a seperate entity other than SoCalFunPlaces.com. If you have any questions, comments, complaints or gripes about this one page, feel free to contact Ryan.
New-Era Jump List:
Bagdad-Chase & Red Dog mines
The Husband Mine
The Bonanza Powder Mine
Owens Valley / Owens River fun
Ocotillo, CA – Anza Borrego Desert State Park
The Impossible Mine
LD Mine & Ghost Camp
Cetopa Mines Revisited!
Vanderbilt area – East Mojave Preserve
Cetopa Mine Revisited Just One More Time!!!!!!!!
I move to Colorado!
Then I move back to California!
Bagdad-Chase & Red Dog mines – 4/14-15/07
After about a half-decade of absence we made it back out to the Bagdad Chase mine / Stedman / Ragtown / Rochester / Red Dog mine / Buckeye Mining District area. This area is extrememly dangerous with its 200+ different mining claims scattered throughout the area. Most are small prospects but others are very deep and very vertical shafts – off-roaders BEWARE!
This time around we came out with some old mine exploring friends and also several San Bernardino County Coroners and Homicide Detectives for a….well….weekend outting.
We rapelled down into a mighty shaft to see what was at the bottom. I figured there’d be nothing, and there wasn’t anything, except for quite a few hundred feet of linear workings…
Standing in the 1st level at about 100′ down – leaning into the shaft and peering up… …peering down another 100′ feet or so. This is supposed to be a 400′ shaft but I’m thinking not!
Mikey tossing excess rope below him Mikey & coroner
After a small breather… …we continue down
still going At the bottom of the shaft, levels drift off in several directions
Powder box remains
Further down the tunnel… …we find a little…
…Raise going up. So Mikey follows it for a bit
Standing at the bottom looking all the way up Back outside, we find a quaint abandoned little community
The kids might get bored here but… …what a nice view
1 cabin has a proch with a gas range on it The main cabin – has a balcony, a front porch and a shower out back!
Crumbly shaft in the area mad man checking it out
Lets head over to the Red Dog!
What I thought was a cool looking shot of… …the entrance
A tiny winze-type area goes down… …for about 20′
A view of the winze-area workings A makeshift wierdo station/living quarters just inside the entrance
Mikey & I find a little side shoot that goes up to an… …underground water tank. Probably used to supply the hydraulic drilling. The breather hole on the right breaks the surface.
Mikeys pics from the weekend:
We pick him up at his house before we head out for the weekend. His living room could use a woman’s touch however.
Our main goal.
Weekend warrior crew signing in.
Steaks, bread, beer, and a camp fire to grill them all over. Well, all except for the beer maybe. Paradise found.
You can rope your horse up right over there.
During a morning hike, I find a friend
Humble living establishment
South of town, back underground.
I love the shots of legs & nothing but hundreds of feet of air between them & the ground!
At the deepest depth of a mine, sometimes you’ll find access to even deeper depths.
The Husband Mine – Summer of ’06
It’s a talc mine. It’s very large and untouched. It’s location is very secret. The weekend we explored this mine, 2 German tourists perished right across the “street” from this location. They were hiking a mere 1/4 mile but with nothing more than the smallest bottle of water you can buy. The air temp was at 105-115 that day. The ground temp was ABOVE 200 degrees – near boiling. So once they succumed to heat stroke, that’d be like passing out on top of your BBQ grill. I’ll leave the moral of this story up to you!
I just love those Bridges of Death! Or is it Bridge of Deaths? Either way, love ’em.
Climbing down a long raise
We run across a real nice, rather large… …squareset-timbered room!
I think he wants up! Climb up the ladder…turn the wheel….the gears open the ore shoot…the carts are waiting for the load at where I’m standing.
Outside the mine, ore shoots from inside broke the surface all over the place.
The Bonanza Powder Mine – Summer of ’06
It’s also a talc mine. It’s also very large and untouched. It’s location, of course, also is very secret.
At the entrance. A deep, near-vertical incline.
Almost to the bottom.
We finally make it… …and come across a very stable looking drift!
So of course we follow it which might not have been the best idea as… …it ends at an even more stable looking cave in.
OH I didn’t mention that “bottom” meant the bottom of that particular shaft only?! Just 2 more to go…
…and it REALLY pays off as we wind our way thru untouched tunnels…
…and the best payoff I think I’ve ever found while underground – a 1000′ elevator shaft!!! The guys checking out the operation…
…This is the view they are seeing. It goes down for who knows how many feet! Mikey spots steel ladders going all the way down next to the shaft…
Se he takes them all the way to the bottom. While we’re waiting for him to survive the climb, we peruse the artifacts.
The shop calendar was left at April ’68. Comic book printed in the ’40s.
Post-research: Carl Anderson’s Henry #3. July-Sept 1948
Shelving in the supply room. While taking a ride on this cart, my helmet smashes & gashes into a 8″ nail sticking out of that wood beam up there. Don’t ever forget your helmets kiddies!!!!
Update on the “Bonanza Powder” mine:
If anybody ever wonders why I hide the names of these mines and refuse to give out location info, above is an updated picture of the entrance to this mine – sombody decided to burn the timbers and completely cave it all in. There are no other entrances to this mine – its interior is hidden behind who knows how many tons of rubble forever. This was a real good one too. PLEASE – enjoy my photos and don’t ask me where I was when I took them.
Owens Valley – Memorial Day Weekend ’07
We had a few days to ourselves for Memorial Day this year so we decided to check out some of the un-developed camping spots along the Owens River. Was really nice – we camped along the River on Saturday night, after that we headed up to Bishop for a hotel room & a shower on Sunday night! The spot on the Owens River was one of the nicest camp spots I have ever found outside of a developed campground. The River flowed right next to a sandy beach which gave way to a grassy meadow – perfect for camping. Only problem was; I didn’t realize how much of a serious cow pasture the meadow was. All night I kept waking up to heavy hoof stompings all around us! I think they wanted their sandy beach river access back.
The next day, in Bishop, we headed over to the Laws Railroad Museum. Real cool place with lots of ghost town-style buildings that you can go into. I dug it! After that we headed over to the Mule Days festival. They had…ummmm…lots of mules on site. Great indian tacos too. After that short visit we headed up Bishop Creek Canyon towards Lake Sabrina, South Lake, etc.. – BEAUTIFUL views all around us! Wish I had photos of that area…
View of our campsite – grassy meadow, sandy beach, meadering Owens River, Eastern Sierras in the background.
Inside the canopy we have a daughter, a wife, and a dog.
Great fishing access all up & down the Owens River
A creek flows into the River at this point
Cutie pie on the beach!
Setting up for our evening camp fire/BBQ on the beach
Where would I sign up for the cutest baby in the world contest?
Had to snap a photo of the morning sun on the Sierras!
She likes morning sun…
…and camping, and climbing, and swimming
Another view of the beach that we had all to ourselves – even on the most busy weekend of the year in these parts
The only photo I have at the Laws Railroad Museum. And it’s a good one!
Reward Mine – October 13th-14th ’07
Went back up to the Reward Mine – 1st time in years for me. I think this is still my favorite area of California! Deserts, mountains, rivers, and mines…what more could you really ask for?! The mines are huge and the camping is great. And unlike some of the other exploring areas we frequent, all the services you would ever need are just a couple miles away. That means breakfast and dinner at tasty restaraunts in Lone Pine! We got to explore quite a few of the various levels of the Reward Mine this time. We found where the lower levels connect with the upper levels and saw so many side tunnles and offshoots that we decided that we just need to come back someday to explore the rest.
The best thing about this mine: you drive in about 1/4 mile before you park & explore on foot!
We finally park & tailgate for a little bit
It doesn’t take long for us to hit the ladders
So we go up & up…
…and up some more
…we find a little side tunnel that leads us to…
…the main raise that connect these lower levels to…
…the upper levels.
And it’s quite extensive up here
I take the easy way back down the mountain…
…and here we are outside
some monkey antics on the hopper
hoists & pullys & gears & such
Our beautiful camp spot for the evening. Eastern Sierras in the background and my back is turned toward the Inyo Mountains. Breathtaking location!
Duck into the bushes and here is what you’ll find – when we showed up Saturday evening, there were dozens of fish jumping all over the place.
Inside the hopper playing with the I-beam chimes!
Commencing landscape/portrait photo separation…
A bit of a hike from the car to the upper levels
posing with our tennis instructor, Chaz.
He loikes tha drinky drinky
underneath the hopper
a very vertical part of the mine…
…not for the faint of heart
riding the ore shoot, looking up toward the
…looking down at the lower hopper
Some good photo ops at the lower hopper
Ocotillo, CA – Anza Borrego Desert State Park – Thanksgiving ’07
This year Thanksgiving found us out in the middle of nowhere. We attended the Annual Family Jeep Trip/Turkey BBQ down in Ocotillo, CA – about 5 miles north of the Border & an hour or so east of San Diego. We camped for 3 days/3 nights and had a blast the whole time! Took a few photos too:
Turkey dinner arrived after we: dug a large pit, lined it with rocks, burnt a fire in it…
…when the coals were ready we just toss the bird on in…
…cover her with the hot rocks…
…fill it back up, leave for 5 hours, set it and forget it.
No after-photos, was too hungry!
So we jump in the 4×4’s and head off into the desert
We stop & check out a water tower used to supply steam engines
Dewd I’m like, totally posing with an alien right here.
Get a load of cool chick over here!
inching our way down rocky hills
looking back up the hill
entering the canyons here
beautiful scenery all around us
other camp sites
taking a little rest stop
the convoy shoves off again
uh ohh…will we get some underground time in?
photo op at the old water tower
oh no, it’s looking promising!
so I take the little’n in for a peek
wooooohooooo underground stuffs!!
nice canyon cruise shot
A little blurry but good shots of the canyon driving in Anza Borrego Desert State Park. A must see for any off-roader!
The Impossible Mine – 2/23/2008
Headed out with the California Mine Explorers to explore this interesting, and very intact, mine. All of the structures & equipment needed for the mine/mill operation are still onsite…and provided lots of scampering-around-time fun! This place was active as early as the late 1800’s and experienced periods of on-again/off-again status continuing to this day. Aparently, very soon this entire area will be scrapped and made into an open pit mine, ultimately destroying all underground workings & vintage above-ground structures. I wish I could have made it to this location only several years back – story goes everything here was still hooked up to the large generators and fired up at the push of a button; steam shovel, mine elevator, mill conveyors & all! Check out our exploration of this fairly large operation…
Here we have a steam shovel which worked off of a compression combustion engine, a hoist tower which sits over the main shaft, and in the far background a power house which contains 2 deisel engines.
Taking in the view here
I climb up on top of the hoist tower for a better view of the diesel shovel
working the controls
The conveyor was fed by a bucket next to the main vertical shaft. It goes up & to the left to spill into ore hoppers next to a full service milling operation.
The same conveyor coming out of the bucket next to the hoist tower
and yet another angle
Powerhouse of energy
Here’s the 2 diesel engines inside the power house
I climbed up on top of the mill for one of those rustic desert scene shots
OKAY – we make our way underground finally
1st guy’s already at the bottom so I snap a shot of 2nd an climbing down…down…down…
I’m 3rd to come in
A view looking up at the alternating-pitch ladders – they make for a much safer climb in & out as any pebbles (or worse) which get kicked down by others land a mere 10′ from their origination – no terminal velocity rocks coming down!
After about 150′ we make it to the “bottom”…
…which consists of a 15′ horzontal drift leading to the next 100′ climb down!
gridlock happens half way down
a dezert rat gets deposited from the ore shoot
The horizontal parts of this mine can be explored within a few minutes. The areas that keep us underground for hours is the plethura of vertical shafts which require white knuckle climbs. NOTICE the seismic activity underground here has contorted the ladders into zig zag shapes!!
Here we are at the bottom at the videographers convention
We come across the main elevator shaft which connects to the hiost tower up above. Notice the ladder on the other side of the chain link…
…we take it down for quite a ways. There is a tape measure running the length of the elevator shaft so we were able to determine that I’m about 15 vertical feet below the last photo, the guy just below me is 20′ under my shoe, and the faint little ball of light you see below is 90′ down. The guy at 90′ says there is another equal distance of ladder climbing to be done from there – making it about a 200′ shaft. Considering the time it will take to get us all down, and then back out….we decide to save this exploration for another day. on a work bench there are protective goggles, work gloves, thermos and a pair of coveralls. YES this mine is still very much intact down here!
Shiny Coral Mine, LD Mine & ghost camp – 3/09/
view the original report/full story
Check out the original report from years back!! I finally brought a camera with me to this spot…here they be:
A panorama shot of what I call the LD ghost camp – sits right at the base of a large limestone mine
front porch of the main building
huge quarry surrounds the entire property
garages or storage sheds or something
view of them from the front porch
everybody checks out the floor plan
even the little’n loves it!
hot tin roofs
another cabin…maybe the guest house
beautiful view of the desert from the front porch
on the property, an ore hopper dumps into a mill
…opposite view of the mill
inside the mill, just under the hopper sits an arastre
a little stucco & it’d be good as new
checking out a small mine nearby
the entrance is fun!
we find what looks like access to lower levels
ladders to the upper levels
Kylee gets to check out a small prospect for the 1st time
and she loves it!
beautiful drive home…with bug juice too
a little spliced-image Photoshop action right here!
Cetopa Mines Camping Trip – 5/16 – 5/18
view original reports/pictures
We were hoping for about 20 people to show up….so we invited about 75! Low & behold, we got about 20!! For those of you who didn’t make it out…”next time”. You’d think by now, after DOZENS of trips out here, we would definitely explored all areas of these mines. NOT the case! I found an area that was right under our nose the entire time – a small shaft that broke the surface & led to a room the size of a high school auditorium tilted on its side. At the bottom of that room was a hole that led to a several hundred foot ladder that directly accessed the main “Peace Dove” haulage tunnel. Others who came along this weekend explored a different local mine that is a MUST SEE!!!! I’ve only seen about 5% of that one…
We find a Chuckwalla lizard before we head into the upper Midnight levels!
The camera didn’t catch it but this tobacco pouch had a seal still on it that said “Series of 1910”
Climbing up into the hoist room for the
Midnight main winze
Back at camp, Kylee had a great time riding the dog around!
Panorama shot of a utility room, under the hoist house, next to the main winze in the Midnight Mine
Vanderbilt – East Mojave Preserve – October 25th, 2008
Here’s a little place that I’ve been wanting to get out to for a while now but still have not had the chance to do so. The photos were shot by a friend, Ron Little, and he’s been gracious enough to allow me to post them here. Taken from a Wikipedia artilce on the area: Vanderbilt was a short-lived gold mining town located in San Bernardino County, California, United States. It existed between 1893 and 1895. At its peak it may have had a population of about 400 people.
This operation is much more recent and operated under a different name of Goldome – perhaps even GoldDome…? One really neat bit of history about Vanderbilt is that Virgil Earp, brother of Wyatt, owned a hotel/saloon right here back in the day. We’re stepping on some real Old West history out here. As far as I know, there isn’t much left to see underground out here but there are some nicely preserved remnants of past operations above ground all over the place – vintage & recent. As you can tell from the photos, this operation was a relatively recent one so the buildings are remarkaby preserved and thier function can be figured out just by taking a look around – let’s take a looksee…
The main buildings here seemed to have housed crushers, concentrators,offices and power generators.
Not even a drop of graffiti on them! Get out here while you can before the idiots paint the walls, break the windows and burn the whole place down. You know it’s only a matter of time.
After the ore had been extraced from the nearby mine, it was dumped onto this classifier and made its way down…
…this conveyor setup. Far background on the left you can see where the provious photo was taken.
Full side view of the conveyors – the process started on the right & made its way to the left.
These tanks, 4 of them, sit right next to one of the main buildings but no photos really show how they’re connected so I’m not sure. Leaching vats I’m guessing.
One of the older buildings remains onsite. Looks like its interior was converted into a storage shed…
Ya got yer spare hoses, tubes, jugs, sand paper, spare tires. etc…even a sink to wash up in!
Let’s get into the larger buildings now. The interior has an extra level built in – I spent quite a bit of time trying to decipher what was going on in there but a lot of the equipment has been removed and again, I wasn’t there to investigate further. Some of you more mining-info-inclined folks may be able to shed some light on the operation.
One of the sairways going up the the 2nd level came right up to a crusher. I’m assuming that the conveyors outside led right into this crusher.
Inside shot of building #2. Almost looks like more of a storage facility.
Little utility room with what could be a real nice camping shower – if only it weren’t caked with chemicals!
More interior shots!
I’d like to get out here one of these days. Up in the hills closeby, there are some old mines with cabins still intact as well. I have a sneaking suspicion that this area could possibly be keeping a few well kept secrets!
Mormon Rocks -January 4th, 2009
We’ve been going up to this place for years & years now – as a kid, as a partying teenager, and now as a family man! The Mormon Rocks are right on the edge of the 15 freeway in the Cajon Pass. If you’ve ever driven from SoCal to Las Vegas; you’ve driven right past this area. It’s very accessible even for small cars. Good rock climbing & bouldering, good day camping and a great place to take day trip.
Here was our camp spot for the day. Brought a little grill, a cooler and some camping chairs. This is always our first choice for a good, cheap, close-by spot to have fun for a day.
Little’n runnin up the wash.
The rocks get a few hundred feet high but there are spots where you can just scamper up without any equipment or much skill.
Looking towards Wrightwood from our camp spot.
Trying the macro settings out on the new digi cam!
Train lovers would like this area too – they roll right thru passes in the rocks.
Shot of the day right here
Sidewinder Mine – January 31st, 2009
Well not really the Sidewinder Mine but close enough! With enough research, you’ll find it if you want to. This mine is amazingly close to town. There are quite a few other tiny to large abandoned mines around here but they are all either caved, on private propert or sealed shut. But it is surprisingly intact and concidering its proximity to the thriving High Desert cities, it has somehow escaped being sealed or blasted shut. Probalby still under somebody’s active mining claim. Great offroading & camping areas abound near here. After we explored the mine, we headed over to nice flat spot under some large granite outcroppings for a little grilling & relaxing. My buddy Tim and his daughter Larrisa came out with us this time and good time were had by all.
Here is your scene when you happen upon the mine. Living quarters on the right, loading station on the left.
Close up of the ore hopper. Ore was conveyed on a belt and came in from the left – dropped down the funnel you see here into a waiting truck.
The ramains of the ore car tracks are still visible and came stright out from the tunnel exit.
Living area has seen better days!
A great view is always very condusive to frequent movements.
Here we are at the entrance
1940 – a bit older than I thought it might be too
Talk about back breaking labor – the tunnel went back about 30 yards at only about 4 ft high.
The tunnels open up into workings that are definitely larger than what we were expecting
Guessing it’s a water tank to supply hydraulic drilling
Checking out one of the several ore hoppers which came down from a level above us
Looking straight up – a ladder started about 15 ft above us. Never heard much about this mine and its stability so we decided to not climb the vintage timber to get up there!
…until we find a ladder that reaches the tunnel floor!
It only goes up for about 40 ft but I was pleased to find a good ladder climb in here anyway.
Afte the mine, we shove off & head out into the valley to a new camp spot that I’ve been scoping out from space.
The kids loved it!
Lots of hiking & climbing here
Our approval rating is skyrocketing!
After we grill some dogs, a camp fire seems in order to finish the day off proper…
…agreed upon by all!
Cetopa Mines – March 6th, 7th, 8th, 2009
So I’m going to be moving to the great State of Colorado next month! SoCal adventures are going to be very few & far between for me after this one. This trip was scheduled to be my last big shindig in the desert for a while and of course Cetopa was the location of choice! What a great choice too – we explored over 500 vertical feet of workings that I had never seen before; in a mine that I went into once years back but I had backed out and never tried it again until this weekend. Ore cars were still running on tracks and thousands of linear feet of still-untouched tunnels littered with artifacts greeted us around ever corner. I wish I started exploring this mine years ago as we passed up many side workings & vast stopes just to try to make it to the very bottom – definitely another Cetopa mine which holds many secrets for those willing to seek them out.
Our camp spot for the weekend was the classic Peace Dove haulage tunnel tailing pile.
Inside the Peace Dove, which I’ve been into dozens of times, we scamper up a stope to a small upper level which I had never seen before!
The infamous main incline, looking up
We drive around to the other side of the mountain to our main goal for the weekend
We locate the easy entrance and begin making our way down…
…down…down for many hundres of feet.
The climb in the previous pic brought us to this interesting feature!
A closer look. Notice gaurd rails are closest and then a shaft on the other side…
…stand on top of the gaurd rails, if you dare, and look a loooog way down
…Look down the shaft and this is what you see – alternating-pitch ladders going down for several hundred more feet.
The ladders dont go too far until they hit the next platform, then alternate to the other side of the shaft and continue down.
Made it to the bottom!
Bottom of one of the raises
Bottom of another raise
beams & buttresses wedged together with logs which still have their bark on them
Slick-N-Slides created by a slip fault
At the very bottom of the mine we come across a large headframe which hoisted ore up from even further down. You can see the angle of the incline going down behind us.
Here is the bottom of that incline, looking up
The very bottom ended in water. We’re thinking it must have kept going down at one point and this is just a cave-in blocking the way…
..which would mean that Brad scampered a across a rubble-choked shaft of unknown depth to get to the other side!
But he lives to tell his story. Here’s a story of an ore car wheel.
Back at the top of the incline we find a great little car that ran for probably a hundred yards along the tracks!
I believe 565 is the number of vertical feet that we have climbed down. Good ‘ol Underground Explorers left a cool little calling card here!
Lets check out some of the artifacts we saw down there (And left them right where we found them by the way). Here’s a couple old torches lying in a wooden powder box
Cardboard explosives box.
Makeshift torch sitting on top of an empty carbide container
Old carbide lamp grafitti.
Let’s get back outside for some grillin & shootin…
Jesse & Peter just relaxing after a good day underground
Check out the video too!!
Quite a few firearms and hundreds of rounds kept us happy until the sun went down!
Great fireworks show that night!
Mortars are difficult to capture!
Roman candle wars!!!
CHEERS to the Cetopa Mines for accomodating years of exploration & dozens of great campouts like this one! Thanks to everybody who came out on this one for my last big hooplah for a while.
Stay tuned for my next round of updates to this site – COLORADO ADVENTURES!!
By the way, click here for an unfortunate update on a nearby mine. Its fate was discovered on this trip.
Update – 7/22/2010 – Colorado!
I’ve been meaning to put these photos up for MONTHS but you know how that goes. I will still be updating it with a couple more pictures & writeups BUT…..we have since moved back to California! Long story. Come along on a trip with us & I’ll tell ya all about it.
In the mean time, I have already gone back out to the desert several times and I need to update this page with those trip reports! I will continue to update this page, right below here, with updates from CA. Stay tuned…
Post-Colorado Trip Reports:
Abandoned Desert Prison
Indpendence, CA – fishing and camping in the Owens Valley
Death Valley Area Mines – Cetopa Revisited – version 786234!
Slurry Hills Cabin and Wilderness Exploring to Abandoned Mining Camp
Abandoned Desert Prison – August 21st, 2011
Yes it has been a long time since updating this site! We’ve been out several times but mostly re-visits to old spots so I figured I would only post updates on new spots. I caught wind of this place recently and I knew I had to check it out before it suffered the same fate as most other cool places in the desert – complete & total destruction by bored idiots. This was a Federal Prison Camp back in the ’90s and apparently shut down & abandoned in 2003.
To try and keep down on the amount of people who could find this location by researching elements in the photos, I will be posting a limited number of photos that we took:
Parking lot for visitors
Waiting & reception area for visitors
They thought of everything
Tennis & basketball courts
Obligatory prison handball court
There were about a dozen 2-story dorm buildings. Let’s go check them out!
For being abandoned, still pretty intact inside
Inside a dorm room, they had nicer closets than me
Looking out a 2nd story dorm room
In the distance you can see a little neighborhood of 3 bedroom homes. I’m thinking it was housing for the workers & their families
Each dorm had a nice tiled bathroom.
This one even had a mural!
Wishful thinking taped to the inside of a closet
Floorplan layouts posted on each level
Anybody ever see that movie CB4? It wasn’t this place.
Found inside an inmates’ room. I wonder what happened on August 3rd of 1999. Either something very good or very bad I would guess.
In one of the offices
We make our way over to a recreation hall where all sorts of fun can be had.
We were able to use these maps of the facility to navigate our way through the rooms and envision what might have taken place inside. We found clay in the kiln room and a cribbage board in the game room.
Taking a break under a staff lounge gazebo
This looked like an outdoor amphitheater and I was standing inside the stage area.
Mural of a 20 mule team wagon
Making our way over to the staff housing…
It was a full-on neighboorhood and all the houses were the same – 3bd, 2ba, 1 car garage with a front porch & decent size backyard.
In the center of the neighboorhood was a playground.
“Department of Justice. Bureau of Federal Prisons.”
Independence, CA & Owens Valley – September 23rd-25th, 2011
Yet another great weekend at Grays Meadows Campground just outside of Independence, CA! This was our first real camping trip as a family – we all slept in a tent and the only means of cooking was over coals from the firewood that I brought from home. REAL camping! I wanted to let the kids get some good fishing in and boy howdy, perfect weekend for it! I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen the fishing so hot up here. And if you’ve read the reports from past trips, that is something to write home about! People were trying different ways to NOT catch so many fish! One guy I talked to shaved the barbs off his hooks just to make things a little more difficult. I threw my line in the water twice during the weekend and both times produced larger-than-usual rainbow trout within about 15 seconds.
We visited the Eastern California Museum in Independence and the kids got to climb on the old mining & aqueduct construction equipment and then learned about the local Native Americans & other local history. Great place. Hasn’t changed one bit since before I was their age.
We finished the weekend off with a mandatory trip to a local sand trap which is where a creek meets the Owens River and forms a pond. Epic weekend and I definitely got the fill of the Eastern Sierras that I was looking for.
First morning we all woke up early to go fishing
Within minutes we have success!
The kids really loved it too. Made daddy proud!
(she has a fish on her line in the lower right corner)
breakfast stuffed with a sprig o sage & a slice o lemon
Don’t reserve camp spot #41! It’s tiny! We had to move the picnic table out of the way just to have a place to put the tent! Luckily the spot that I THOUGHT I reserved was being inhabited by a friendly couple who left early on Saturday so…
…we gladly took it over. MUCH better! This is campsite #42. The best one in the campground is #40 though.
They had play/bear boxes here!
View south from our campsite
Morning hike downstream
Even got a dear sighting
The classic hike route out into the valley
Fall colors were already kicking in
The famous bridge between upper & lower Grays Meadows campgrounds
It’s pizza time
We head on over to the Eastern California Museum on Saturday morning. This bizarre grasshopper looking thing always made cameos in my dreams and nightmares between the ages of 5 to about 10 or so!
Posing next to some hoosits & whatnots at the Eastern California Museum
He learned the cheezball smile this weekend!
After we pack up camp we make a mandatory stop at the Shepherd Creek Sand Trap in Owens Valley.
Great spot to relax in the shade with a beautiful view of the Eastern Sierres on one side of the valley and the Inyo Mountains on the other
Sitting, enjoy the view and the company
We get bored after a while and decide that a dip in the cow runoff pond would be a good idea
After a bit of a think, I jump in briefly
Freezing cold right about now and BJAE knows he’s next!
And he makes it!
He was very proud of himself
Imitating my crouch while trying to get a better angle!
See yall next time!
Midnight Mine – Death Valley Region – November 5th & 6th, 2011
It had been about a year since we had a good, overnight man trip. We were very ready to get back out, anywhere, but naturally we decided on the Cetopa Mines as our weekend destination! We awoke about 4am on Saturday the 5th of November, 2011. This put us on-site at our camp spot by about 9am that morning. We didn’t waste any time getting underground so after a brief pause at our campsite to make sure that the lone, white van just up the road was nothing more than a group of college students on a field trip….if I had to guess they’re probably in a Geology class. After a good preliminary exploring session, we emerged mid-day to begin the grillin & chillin phase of our weekend! New York strips & lamb chops were are choice fare for the evening. We turned in early, don’t even think we made it to sundown. The plan was to wake up early again on Sunday, explore some of the farther reaches of the Midnight Mine, then head out to some other local landmarks like the Amargosa River Gorge and also China Ranch Date Farm. I had been to China Ranch several times but for some reason I never made the 1 mile detour to check out the Amargosa River Gorge. It was pretty cool! Would be a great spot for a hike someday. Perhaps after another 10 years of exploring this area I’ll get a chance to! Until then, enjoy the pics:
The view from camp looking towards the tailing piles of the Midnight Mine Close up of the furnicular coming out of the Midnight Mine
Some of the first signs of workings in underground. The picture on the left is of the 1st “bridge of death” that one must circumnavigate. It’s easy really; you pretty much walk right over it. It’s just the thougth of the 40′ drop into an incline shaft that makes it a hair raising experience.
Further down the tunnel, turn that corner right there and… …you’ll end up at a nice untility room which is right under a hoist room – where a diesel engine use to bring up ore cars from the depths of the main incline shaft
You can climb up into the hoist room -this is looking down Climb down the incline a bit and this is looking up
The ladder next to the hoist room Here I am climbing up a side shoot which leads to the upper levels of the mine
The main tunnel of the mine leads all the way to the backside of the mountain. Tracks lead all the way out to a tressle which used to carry ore cars from the mines on the other side of the canyon, thru the Midnight, and down to a waiting train on the other side! Another shot of the tressle
Scamper down the hill and this is looking back up Hike across the ravine a ways and this is the view looking back. You can still see that tressle in the background. Notice the other ore bins around…
….they are all ore car exits for the other mines An a-frame which stands over a shaft and has an ore bin connected to it
The hoist wheel…used to have cable woulnd around it and pulled up ore cars from the depths of the earth this is what that a-frame sat over…
…just another endless drop into the heart of the mountain which actually accesses many underground workings this guy…always demanding more photo ops…
…cross a bridge into the upper levels of the Midnight Much smaller tunnels up in here
They twist & wind all around Very untouched up here with cool artifacts lying all over
Scamper upthat slope & thru a shoot… …and you get to the famed wall-O-blasting boxes
OKAY now let’s pack up camp on the last day & head over to the Amargosa River Gorge. Very picturesque!
There was some bizzare art installation of sorts here Complete with invisible man pants
and a doorway leading to? okay that stop lasted about 3 minutes, let’s head on down to the world famous China Ranch Date Farm
Blue agave, grown & sold on-site $10-$15 – inquire inside!
Replica of an old miner’s cabin Never saw this type of plant before
Midnight Mine Finale – Death Valley Region – March 10th & 11th, 2012
I know, I know. You’re probably thinking, “Are you serious, another Cetopa trip, REALLY?!” Well, I agree! However, this trip had an important purpose – we recently caught wind that what we thought could only happen in our wildest dreams is, in fact, a reality here. The mountain which holds the Midnight Mine, the Peace Dove, #2 & #3 mines is basically hollow and all the mines are interconnected underground! One can actually enter into the northern-most mine, the Midnight, decend its main incline shaft, hop over to a horizontal drift which leads to a near-vertical stope, decend that and drop down into the far reaches of the Peace Dove haulage tunnel!!!! That’s right; what we once thought were simply 2 separate, non connecting yet both very large mines, do actually connect underground! A supreme understanding of this amazing complex of tunnels is now, after 10 years and probably 40+ trips out there, finally being had. We also grilled some insanely tasty London Broil, hiked around China Ranch with date shakes in hand, and even saw some UFOs over our campsite on Saturday night! Enjoy the video of that at the bottom….
Jae takes a peek at the main hoist room Josh climbing down the main winze
…..same as above….just a bit further down…
Jae & I off in a side drift The very bottom of the main winze
Down in the last levels of the main winze, a yellow nylon rope lead up into an unexplored stope. Considering the rope was tied off to a butress that seemed to be holding the whole room up, it’ll probably remain unexplored for a while! Waiting below….Jae makes sure I don’t do
anything I shouldn’t!
Another shot of that rope hanging down. It’s just begging to be climbed! The 2 guys who made it all the way to the bottom & beyond with me!
Scotty gets a looksee of the hoist room Josh making the long decent down
In the upper levels, find this ore shoot and climb up that. That’ll get you to the famed upper upper levels! Walking all the way through the main level to the backside, the tressle comes into view
Always gotta have the self portraits on the tressle!
One of my favorite parts of these weekends…enjoying the company of good friends and the best london broil I’ve ever had the pleasure of sampling!!
Best washed down with your favorite beverage Some of us had to try extra hard to make it to sunset!
Great bonfire & evening antics! The next morning we do a final run through of the upper levels
The workings are real old up here and rather untouched The “Grand Canyon of Cetopa”
The 1 shot of China Ranch Date Farm. There’s a coyote back in there somewhere… Saturday night, we actually make contact! Or is it just some secret military operation? Click the image to watch the video and you be the judge!
Slurry Hills Cabin and Wilderness Exploring – December 13th – 15th, 2013
Been about a year since our last outting and it was worth every minute of the wait!! This time we decided to see some brand new locations and even some very comfy accomodations too. I had caught wind of a real cool little cabin out in the Mojave Desert – years ago actually – but finally connected the puzzle pieces and figured out its location. Awesome spot! A bit of a drive from the cabin, and a half day hike back into an unnamed canyon, lies an abandoned mining camp that I have never seen any photos of and have found no references to the mine or any claims for it. From the looks of it, nobody had been there in about 30 years since it was last operational. The only way I knew about it was from scouring Google Earth for years and years and just happened upon this spot which is clearly visible from satellite imagery. Scores of artifacts were lying all over the place – it was a picker’s dream – but all was left in place for other adventurers to enjoy….however I don’t think anybody will be back here anytime soon. I’m sure we will be though!
Here’s a peek at our cabin. Front porch and entrance on the left, back porch on the right. Gorgeous location too!
I actually enjoyed sitting at a barstool on the back porch. This pic was from that seat. Inside of the cabin. Nice wood burning stove got the small cabin very warm at night.
Cozyness is approved! We made ourselves very much at home!
A bit of an offroad trip and a 6 mile hike took us back into a very cool canyon – rock walls shot straight up for 1000′ and an abandoned mining camp awaits at the end. Scenic Canyoneering
He finds the ring but was very disapointed that it did not render him invisible. Hiking further back into the canyon
Atrifacts such as wooden treasure boxes were scattered along the way! Quite a few small mines back in the canyon and their claims were mailboxes stuffed with tin canisters stuffed with claim papers. 1 more pic of that later…
Once we make it to the mining camp, modern equipment was lying around just waiting for the price of gold to jump back up. From what we could gather from around the camp, the place dated back to the 1980’s and hand’t seen a soul since.
Bulldozer and mining camp in background
An old Chevy truck was used to haul ore from the mines across the canyon to the mill and processing house A small 1bd, 1ba cabin was onsite.
Large topo map of the area at the entrance to the cabin Inside the workshop. Many modern artifacts lying all over the place. The light coming from the back of the shop is where the shaker tables, classifiers, processing troughs, etc were
Outside the workshop A large Chevy straight 6 engine sat atop a tower which housed shaker tables for separating material – that material was then gravity fed down into the “workshop” which had what looked like a small leaching operation inside. Assaying equipment was also found in there. The whole 9 yards all on-site!
Another shot of the engine tower Very cool old turntable that folded up into a brief case
What looks like an old cave-turned-mine back in the canyon Here’s one of those mailboxes with claim papers taken out for display
Back at camp and time to turn loose! We fire up the grill which is available for use
Brats just got done boiling… ….time to throw them on the grill with some steaks!! Dinners just never taste this good back in the city!
A separate and not-so-fancy cabin sat down the valley from ours View from the front porch of our cabin. Perfect weather and did not see a cloud in the sky the entire time.