After visiting the Yankee Fork dredge, I was really interested to see if I could find an abandoned dredge out in the wild. Were there any left? I started to do some research to see what I could find.
There aren’t many gold dredges left surviving in the lower 48 states, and even fewer that are intact. This is one of the few. When I first heard about it, I had to go see it. I was not disappointed.
An old mill, lurking in the hills above Virginia City, has almost completely fallen into ruin. Years of harsh winters and neglect have left hardly anything left standing to explore.
The mine, now collapsed, was active intermittently from 1918 to 1940 and once had a 900 foot long adit. Besides the mill building, the camp consisted of a sawmill, blacksmith shop, assay office, cookhouse, bunkhouse and cabins. The mill was once equipped with a jaw crusher, Marcy ball mill, classifier, flotation and cyanide tanks. Almost all are gone now.
Over the summer, we were exploring in the Ponderosa pine forests of northern Arizona. One of the spots we visited was Law’s Spring. It’s an old campsite along the historic Beale Wagon Road.
The Beale Road was born from a need to travel over newly won territory from Mexico after the the Mexican-American War (1848) and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. In 1857, President Buchanan and the US Congress commissioned Navy Lt. Edward Beale to find a route from Ft. Smith, Arkansas to the Colorado River (in what would become Arizona). Beale brought in twenty-five camels, from the Camel Corps (imported from Tunis in Africa), to trek across the desert. The animals were well-suited to the dry climate but rocks injured their feet and muleskinners (mule wranglers) generally found them smelly, ugly and ill-tempered.
A few weeks ago, we packed our daypacks full of water and took a long hike traversing a mountain range. We stopped by a few interesting mines and cabins along the way. This was one of the more unique ones.
It is rare to find a Chilean mill out in the wild, not to mention one that is ten feet in diameter! The original 10 stamp mill was built on the site sometime before 1910. The mine was already doing well by then and making shipments to the Anaconda smelter in Butte, Montana. It remained a good producer until 1927 when the mill burnt down and the mine closed.
Out in central Nevada, we found a small cave inside of a larger, abandoned mine. The miners probably broke into the cave in the 1880s or thereabouts.
It was interesting to see a barrel set in the mine to catch dripping water. I’m guessing the miners were using it to collect drinking water.