Owens Valley 3 stamp mill

Owens Valley three stamp mill

Last year, I stopped by a forgotten and overlooked three stamp mill in the backcountry of Owens Valley. Seems like even the locals don’t know it exists.

Besides being off the beaten path, the stamp mill is unusual in that it had only three stamps instead of the typical five. Perhaps each stamp was added one at a time as funds became available for this small operation? The mine the mill served was never very big and reportedly was last active in the 1920s.

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Marble Bath DVNP

Marble Bath, DVNP

There is a place way out in the backcountry of Death Valley National Park called Marble Bath. Actually, it is two places.

Why there are two Marble Baths is a bit of a mystery. The real Marble Bath is a narrow marble canyon that contains some potholes that usually hold water long after it rains (Sometimes these are called tinajas). This is the only semi-reliable source of water in an otherwise very arid stretch of country. They don’t call this Death Valley for nothing, ya’ know.

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Oro Copia Mine

Oro Copia Mine

The Oro Copia (also known as the Dos Palmas) is an old mine in the heart of the Orocopia Mountains. It was discovered in 1892 by Edward Fish, his son G. B. Fish and C. O. Barker (of Joshua Tree dam fame). The ore body was reported to be quite rich with gold and they quickly erected a two-stamp mill down at Dos Palmas Spring.

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Mojave National Preserve

Curtis Canyon Cabin

Over the weekend, I visited the fairly remote Curtis Canyon Cabin. I found Boxcar and Ed already there and were busy cleaning and restoring the cabin to a habitable condition.

The narrow, one man cabin was built by Frank Curtis in 1958 and he used it for nearly 30 years. Up on the hill behind the cabin is a small mine, of which not much remains, except an unstable 40′ inclined shaft. I’m guessing not much ever came of the mine, but Frank chose a beautiful spot to have his cabin. It makes a great place to visit today.

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Mine shaft with rails

“Bernanke Mine”

This site was an amazing find for us and a place I had really been looking forward to explore. I had known about the mine for some time and, as is the usual case lately, and I just needed the time and some people to come with me underground. I was able to talk Bill and Dan into a side trip scouting the area at the end of another long trip in Nevada. Since it was the end of the trip, we didn’t have enough time to explore the whole mine but it looked promising. We also looked at a few other nearby sites on our list that were too close to pass up. I tried to put a return trip together but it took a few months before I could get the guys to come back with me for a full exploration of the mine. I’m glad we did.

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