Sunday, April 13, 2014

Stonewall Mine (abandoned) and Cuyamaca City (less than a ghost town) - Cuyamaca Mountains

On this day (last August), my goal was to hike to the long abandoned Stonewall gold mine and the remains of Cuyamaca City. We were camped about seven miles from the mine.

The Hike

Instead of taking the road that led directly to the mine, I wanted to approach the area from the backside and only drove my car part way. That left me with about a four-mile round trip hike.


While there, I decided to hike around beautiful Lake Cuyamaca. That added a a couple of miles to my jaunt. I have no idea how much more was added during my search, for any remains of the mining camp (Cuyamaca City). In the background are Stonewall Peak and Little Stonewall Peak.


 Sometimes there were trails and sometimes there weren't







A gorgeous mountain meadow


The Mine

The Stonewall Jackson mine was established in 1870. For post-civil war political reasons, the Jackson portion of the name was dropped.  It is said to have been the most lucrative gold mine in Southern California history and started a local gold rush.


THEN (circa 1889)
The main shaft and much of the mine equipment was housed in these buildings.





 NOW
A few random pieces of mine equipment 


The collapsed main vertical shaft

The tall main building (the hoist house) was directly over this shaft. Not a trace of it remains. There is nothing left of any of the other buildings either.  The mine ceased operations in 1890. In many places, mines are simply abandoned; that isn't exactly the case here. It is said that most of the lumber was reused in the town of Julian.

The Town
The town (or mining camp) was first called Stonewall, then Stratton and eventually Cuyamaca City. At one point Cuyamaca City had a population of about 500 people.  There was a post office, housing for mine workers and their families, a school and a boarding house/hotel.  I'd been to the mine before (by car) and knew what to expect there. This hike was to see what remained of the town. I had heard there were foundations and even a couple of old structures still there. What I found was just about nothing. All of it had been damaged in past wildfires and then totally destroyed in the massive Cedar Fire of 2003. I SURE WISH SOMEBODY HAD TOLD ME ABOUT THAT AHEAD OF TIME!
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We were in this area again for the last several days. I will do another post with some better photos and a surprise find very soon. 


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Monday, March 31, 2014

Sheep Springs Petroglyphs - El Paso Mountains Wilderness

Not long ago (yes, I'm way behind) I visited the Sheep Springs Petroglyph site, located in the El Paso Mountains Wilderness Area. A beautiful, rugged and isolated area that is chock full of history. I had never been to this site before. The details of how that happened are located after the last photo.

We had already been to a few stops this day. We are are now headed toward those mountains. Big beautiful and wide open. 


It looks pretty far, but the road is looking pretty good. You've heard that from me before, right?


 Still pretty darn good!

 Here comes the fun part. For those of you that haven't done this, it really is fun.



Somehow, I have no photos of the transition from vehicles to rock art. There are a lot of petroglyphs here and this is one of my favorites.


This one also

Human form (Anthropomorphic) petroglyph

Animal form (Zoomorphic) petroglyphs (mountain sheep)

Anthropomorphic/Zoomorphic hybrid (left side of rock)

Close up of the part man, part animal petroglyph

Here is another example of the hybrid. I know there is a better word for that, but I can't think of it just now.





Many designs are made of four parts. I've read several explanations relating to them. The four seasons, four main directions, four phases of life, etc. I also read that it is just a shield....



 A very old milling or grinding stone. Usually referred to as a "metate" or "slick."

I have no idea what kind of creature this represents, but it is very cool  Maybe a centipede? 



There is a lot more information available about these petroglyphs, but I'm not going to include much. Some of you will remember when my blog posts were mostly words with a few photos. Too much info isn't necessarily a good thing for a blog. However, I will tell you that these petroglyphs are thought to be at least a couple thousand years old. 
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This FWD expedition was organized by Death Valley Jim. In addition to being a good guy, Jim is an explorer, scout, wilderness guide, writer, photographer and master of all things desert related. I've been around the desert a lot more than most folks and I know where a lot of great "non-tourist" places are located, but I have to admit that I'm not in the same class as Jim. I'm trying though...



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Monday, March 24, 2014

The Drive Home - Photo Mix

These are random drive-by photos taken on our last trip. Not from the jeep this time, but from our RV (mostly on our drive home). I'm very happy that my wife loves to drive and splits the time with me. I took some of these while I was the passenger and some while I was driving. It's pretty easy to tell the difference. Anyway, no real theme today. I have a ton of posts in draft form; mines, ghost towns, rock art sites, trails, scenery, stories, etc., but I really like to do posts like this once in a while.

This is Newman. As you can see, he really hates it in our RV and just can't seem to relax. I know what you're thinking, "Gee Pat, that is one fat cat!"  He could stand to lose a couple of pounds (who among us is any different?), but even the vet says he is really healthy. Healthy, hungry and humongous! Newman carries his weight well. He is just a HUGE cat! That is a large dinette he has taken over. Four people can sit there comfortably. He is so big that when he is standing up, he can see on our dining room table (at home). He is the size of a medium dog. In fact, he acts like a dog. He wags his tail like a dog and it thwacks against things. He growls like a dog. He's a gentle giant and we love traveling with him. Okay, let's get on with the drive-by photos.

What is wrong with this scene? I assume you've noticed the semi-truck and trailer driving right at us. It's not like he's supposed to be in the other lane, this highway is two lanes in each direction! The desert is starting to bloom like crazy and that was intended subject of the photo.  I don't remember a head-on collision, but I have had a headache for a few days...

The last time we drove by this 40-foot trailer, it was sitting right side up, with advertisements on the side. It gets a bit windy in the Mojave.

 It's for sale, if anybody is interested...

Not now, not back in the day, not ever...  

With all that room, I never understood why people settle so close to the highway.

 To me, this scenery is just as beautiful as the mountains or coast. 

Why does there always seem to be a train visible in the desert? I'll tell you! The train routes were here long before any roads were. When the federal government started building highways, they took advantage of the route planning that the railroads had already done. They always take the easiest and flattest route possible.


 Sometimes they play chicken! 

Now, I'll shut my face and let you enjoy the Mojave


 No train here, but I loved the sky. The wind blowing in two different directions.


My favorite



Monday, March 17, 2014

Boriana Mine (abandoned) - Hualapai Mountains - Yucca, Arizona

First off, I apologize in advance for my TERRIBLE proof reading. I just now corrected a ton of errors in this post. 
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Last week we were once again in the (Ghost) town of Yucca, Arizona (more on that in a later post).

A very nice young lady working at the little market on the Golf Ball House property told us about an old abandoned mine up in the mountains. Not too many minutes later, we were headed there. I have to admit that it was pretty hairy in parts and we weren't sure if we were going to make it without breaking something. The only way to make it up that road is to have high clearance and four-wheel drive. If we had broken down, we had everything we needed for the long hike out of there. You should always have a second vehicle on a trek like this. Of course we didn't, but as mom and dad always said, "do as I say, not as I do...

The primary production years of the mine were from 1915 to 1943. The mine produced Tungsten, Copper and Gold (in that order). It seems to have been quite an operation in it's day and there were at least a dozen out-buildings in the area. 
Then
 (photo courtesy of: Library of Congress and Wikipedia)

NOW
Our little trek originated pretty close to the base of that far mountain range. As you can see, the mine is in ruins. When I took this photo, I was standing on a HUGE mound of mine tailings.  


We are just a couple of miles off the I-40 here and were pretty happy to see what a great dirt road this was. 


 As usual, that nice road didn't last long.

 The road was deteriorating rapidly.


 This was not a very reassuring sight.


Yep, there are people actually living out there. "There" is in the middle of nowhere. I think this stuff belongs to some miners. That little blue trailer is an old classic. 


 Not much of a road anymore


You can tell by the wildly swinging "no headache" charm hanging from the rear view mirror, that this is not a smooth ride.

This is where we considered getting out of the jeep and hiking the rest of the way. We didn't, but only because we thought we were pretty close by then.

At last! After about 14 miles of that road we spotted our destination. All of that orange/yellow and grayish material is mine tailings.



 The obligatory abandoned vehicles


 A lot of old equipment was just left here to deteriorate.

 One of the few, still standing (sort of) structures around the mine.



 This was on the drive in. Some folks really want to get away from it all. 






A stove and oven, now in it's second career as a target.
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While I was looking for info on this mine, I saw an article from the Kingman newspaper advising people to stay off the Boriana Road. Apparently, rescuing people off this road (especially in winter) is a normal occurrence. If we had known about this first, I'm sure we'd have done it anyway.


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