My friend Micah and his family joined us for a fun little trip to the great Sonoran desert at the start of 2016. Winter is a great time to be in the southern deserts and this time we had our sights set on the Big Eye Mine which is down in the south end of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge and the Castle Dome Mountains. The mine is reached by fifteen miles of 4wd roads.
Deep in the wilderness of Joshua Tree National Park is a site that I call the “Sky Cross” Pictographs. This is a rather large rock shelter with unusual red lines painted across a domed ceiling. The lines form arches across the ceiling and remind me of the night sky. There is even a small sun glyph on the eastern wall. I think a few of the other small designs could also be stellar constellations. Near the rear of the room, a small tunnel leads into another chamber with only a couple of very faint pictographs. This is Serrano and Cahuilla territory and I wonder if any other similar panels of broad bands of pictographs exist?
Last autumn, we hiked cross-country over a mountain to a seldom visited mine and cabin along a stream in central Nevada. It is a quiet and peaceful spot among the aspen trees.
The mine is caved-in but once consisted of an open stope with an adit leading deeper into the mountain. Some nice looking gold ore sits on the mine dump just outside the adit. Down below, there is a small mine camp with an empty cabin and outhouse. Ruins of what appear to be an older make-shift blacksmith shop stand nearby. I found some tin cans and broken wooden pieces of a bellows hidden in the sagebrush. All waiting patiently for some forgotten prospector to return.
High on top of a mountain in central Nevada is the Senator quicksilver mine. The history of the mine is a little hard to follow as the property changed hands a few times and recorded owners and production are missing, but from what I can tell, the mine was first operated in 1925 and ran until WWII.
Last summer, we visited a pair of petroglyph sites out in central Nevada collectively called Honeymoon Hill. They are close together on nearby hills and have fantastic views of the areas they overlook, which is probably why people were here; hunting and keeping watch over the surrounding terrain.
Tucked away in the backcountry wilderness of Joshua Tree National Park is a hidden gem called Cary’s Castle. In 1935, and at the tender age of 24, a young man named Arthur L. Cary (often misspelled “Carey”) moved from Colorado to the Coachella Valley. Besides starting a small family, he almost immediately became involved in mining. He staked a few claims, along with his father, in their spare time. This one was called the “Welcome Stranger” but seems to have been owned by Arthur alone. He spent much of his time out here from 1938 to 1941 developing the mine and enjoying the remote country. He probably built the Castle at that time.