This arrastra is located deep within the China Lake Naval Weapon Center. We had permission to be on the base. I couldn’t find too much information on it other than the cabin was once the assay office over at Millspaugh. It had been moved to Coso Hot Springs, then in 1930, it was moved again to its present location in Cole’s Flat and used as a cowboy’s line camp there.
It is a bit of a hike to reach this old arrastra site and camp. Looks like it was used mainly during the 1930s Great Depression, but the tin cans suggest it was used earlier than that. We found a small mine nearby.
We were lucky enough to be invited on to China Lake Naval Weapon Center to do some volunteer restoration work on the historic Coso ghost town site. After work, we checked out a few other sites and spend the night here. What an awesome time we had! Everyone had a great time!
When Alysia and I found this triple arrastra site, we didn’t know it’s history. I had guessed that it was built by early Mexican prospectors around 1860s or 1870s. Since then, I did some research and come across a few references and pieced together some history.
Discoveries were first made here in 1863 by Mexican prospectors. This camp never struck it rich even though it had a few revivals over the years. The workings here look pretty poor and I didn’t go underground. One interesting find here was the arrastra, which I haven’t found too many of in Nevada.
An arrastra is a simple and primitive gold milling device. Heavy stones are dragged over gold ore to crush it. Mercury and water is added to the floor of the arrastra to create an amalgam and capture the gold.
We stopped by to check out this little three stamp mill in the western Sierra Nevada. It is a neat find. You don’t see many three stamp mills around. The mill was built around 1900 but never saw much use. It was electric powered and water was brought in on a flume. The Honeycomb mine was discovered in the 1880s and was a lode quartz gold mine. It never amounted to much with only a few thousand feet of workings.