Nugget Wranglers
Quartzsite, Arizona

MESQUITE MINE
Jane Alene Boyles

 

Not far from the Arizona border on Highway 78 in south eastern California is the second biggest lode gold mine (open pit) in California.  While the buildings and mine itself is closed to the public due to safety standards, there is a half mile trail up the hill to view the operational pit.  Gold was first discovered in the mid 1800’s at the same time as the California Gold Rush. The area has produced over 3 million ounces of gold and is part of a  much larger gold field spilling into Mexico.  Although the mine area has had operations since its discovery, it began commercial production in 1980.  In 2007 Western Goldfields began serious mining operation and in 2009 merged into New Gold Inc.    Production in 2009 exceeded forecasts of 150,000 ounces for the year.  The ore is processed by leaching methods using cyanide. Full certification to the International Cyanide Management code was expected by the end of 2010, but information is not available in their sustainability report published in 2009.

This mine is located just north of the Glammis dunes and is marked by signs and fences.  The hike up the trail is a good diversion after time spent in the sand.     

LaCholla District Mining Activities
Jane Alene Boyles

 

The LaCholla District is one of the most obvious areas with lode mining activities near Quartzsite.  The structural remains are quite accessible to the public by most vehicles.  Along the face of Dome Rock there are scars of mining activity, yet little sign of much production.  It appears most of these holes or shafts were in tracing veins which petered out soon. Often the mineral found was not of significant amounts to pay for a lode operation.  The Dome Rock campground area has been utilized by recreational prospectors for some time for placer operations.  In the 1980’s and 1990’s there were several large dry washing areas and some large holes dug and processed for placer gold.  Some cement platforms remain of the KB Springer mine located along the pipeline corridor near Sugarloaf Mountain.   Proceeding around the corner of the mountains to the southeast you will find more placer claims actively worked, both on the surface and from shallow tunnels by individual prospectors.  Now let us look at some of the bigger structures still standing at lode mining sites.

HEAD FRAME GOLD EYE OVER A 100 FOOT MINESHAFT

Before starting down Cholla Road, it would behoove one to look at the remnants of the Halsey Williams operation and the Settler stamp mill used for pulverizing the ore at the base of Q Mountain.  Usually the concentrates would be shipped off for final processing at another site.


The first real lode mining operation you come to on Cholla Road is on the right hand side against the uplifted  hill is the old Gold Eye Mine and placer operations.  The placers are now utilized by individuals, finding small rice size grains of gold mostly within the bedrock area

THE ERDMAN STONE HOUSE  
GOLD EYE  MINE

Born in 1909 in North Dakota Lecher “Harry” Harold Erdman left to ride the rails through the Midwest and ended up in Quartzsite where he mined for 63 years.  According to some local long time residents, Erdman lived in town with his family and “commuted “each day to his work at the mine.  He certainly is painted as a colorful character by fellow prospectors often in minimal dress as a free spirit.   Apparently a very private man, there is little history of his long life in the area.  There is a small roofless stone cabin dated 1947 with his basic living items displayed in it.  He is said at one time to have owned a gas station in town.  Also in the vicinity of the cabin are other rock ruins of a roofless home like structure where it is rumored he did some auto repairs and a time worn head frame that was part of the old mining operation. The mine shaft goes down over 100 feet.   According to another source, at one time Harry lived in a room underground in the mine. There are several mine shafts in the area with some dangerous conditions that need be taken under consideration for the safety of pets and children. This main claim of the Gold Eye group is being worked at this time by a guy named Scott, as a placer claim.  Please respect his property and rights.

Wilson Mine

Across the road from the Gold Eye is the Wilson Mine, visible by the large conveyor belt high in the air.  It is totally fenced and not accessible and not functioning do to personal reasons.  It may have been on the internet for sale.   On the right at the fork in the road is the Yellow Dog Mine which appears to be abandoned but is still worked as recreational placer claims.

There are other shafts in the area with little written history.  One has a sign on a cable blocking entrance.  The sign says and probably appropriately so,  “HARD TIMES”.

Yum Yum Mine


If you go on the left fork of the road you will come to the Yum Yum operation which is the rounded hill with many tunnels throughout.   It did produce for a long time gold, silver and copper from small stringers and quartz veinlets.  This shaft and tunnel operation produced 176 Tons of ore from 1936 to 1942 with about 1 ounce of gold per ton. 

 

The Copper Bottom Mine up in the hills above the power lines has a recorded history of 100 tons of copper ore from tunnels and shafts which averaged 19% copper and 1.6 ounces of gold and 27 ounces of silver a ton. A lack of Eastern investors was reported to have caused the mine to close.

Much further on down the trail is the Cinnabar Mine which produced approximately 116 flasks of mercury and spotty gold, silver and wulfenite.  This mine is on the military Proving Grounds and is not accessible to civilians.

 

Other smaller shafts and holes along the way indicate a lot of hard working individuals did a lot of work for little results.  When the cost of production exceeds the value of the product it becomes economically unfeasible to continue an operation. Closure of the mine is the only option.  Perhaps with the rising value of precious metals, some of these operations might be able to reopen, baring environmental issues.

Harquahala Mountain Observatory

 Some times it is nice to have a diversion from prospecting every day.  The Nugget Wranglers acquired a mile square in the Harquahalas last year which without a doubt, is one of the prettiest areas to prospect.  Years ago in the 1920’s C G Abbot led his mules up a tortuous five mile trail to the top of Harquhala Mountain.  At 5600 feet it is the highest mountain in the large Harquhala Valley area.  From the top you can see Castle Dome Mountain about 80 miles to the south and the Hualapais to the north.  Being an astrophysicist, he was looking for a clear sky and cloud free mountain peak which would provide the perfect setting for a solar radiation observing station to match the one being constructed on a mountaintop in Chile.  The two observatories would measure the sun’s energy and its influence on plant and animal life on earth.  The Harquala observatory was sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute and was in operation for about five years.  The sight is protected by the BLM, but is accessible by the trail off Eagle Eye Road, which can be traversed by the brave in a 4x4 pickup or SUV or better still a quad.  The solar panels currently on top provide radio transmitters with power for various DPS and other commication stations.  A sign tells the story of the historical place.   From our camping spot near the Salome claims after dark, we have watched vehicle lights wend their way slowly down the rough and crooked trail, convincing us we would enjoy the ride more from our quads.  Joyce and Dwayne have made this trek several times and it would not be too hard to convince them to go up there again.   This would be a good days outing for your city visitors or for the Grandkids who will think Grandpa and Grandma are two awesome adventurers.

Jane Alene Boyles

Cibola National Wildlife Refuge

A little known Wild Bird Sanctuary exists down in Cibola that is one of the most amazing field trips I have ever taken.  If you want to impress those Eastern visitors, take them to Cibola between Thanksgiving and Valentines Day to view the wild migratory birds.  A left turn off the freeway at Blythe onto Neighbor Rd. (Rte 78) and go south to Cibola Rd and cross the farm bridge back into Arizona following the signs through the village of Cibola.  Best time to go is early in the day when the sanctuary opens at 8 am as the large flocks of birds are coming in for breakfast.  The small visitor center, manned by volunteers, who get to park their RV’s there all winter, features a large diorama of all the birds that winter in the area.  A self guided tour from your automobile takes you through the large fields of alfalfa, wheat and other grains favored by the wild birds.  The wintering Canadian geese arrive as if the alarm went off from their roosting places along the Colorado River and Cibola Lake.  The beautiful snow geese have their own preferred pond and the sand hill cranes, various ducks and other migratory birds feast wherever they take a notion.  There is one area where you can get out of your vehicle and take a short walk behind the fence and watch the action from blinds.  Deer and other animals abound in the picturesque farm woods setting.  There are two ways to leave the area for a scenic loop.  Take Baseline Rd. west right in Cibola across the river to Rte 78 and go North to the small town of Palo Verde.  There is a very interesting rock shop on the west side of the road right in town run by Dale Shutte, a native “colorful character” who is both an expert in rocks and prospecting. He is often featured in stories in prospecting magazines.  Or you can go east right at the farm bridge and drive up the gravel road to Ehrenburg.  Most of this road runs right along the river.  Watch closely for wild burros and wild horses.  Whichever way you go it is really a fun trip that your visitors and grandkids will enjoy.

Jane Alene Boyles 

Hauser Geode Beds

    The Hauser Geode Beds are located south west of Blythe off of Interstate 10 and then Wiley's Well Road South.  It takes about 1 hour from Blythe to get there.  About 30 minutes on paved road and then 30 minutes on dirt road.

    Known to rock hounds for many years, the Hauser geode beds have produced some very beautiful geodes of varied types.  Some geodes are lined with amethyst crystals, others have white or black calcite crystals . A geode is a sphere shaped rock which contains a hollow cavity lined with crystals. A geode which is completely filled with small compact crystal formations such as agate or jasper is called a nodule or Thunder Egg.

    The Hauser Geode Beds were discovered in 1937 by Joel Hauser, a Blythe Native. As there were no roads in the Black Hills area, Mr. Hauser used his Model A Ford that he paid $37.50 for to explore this region.  One day while trying to drive around the Black Hills the Hauser Beds were discovered. 

Directions from Blythe

    Take Interstate 10 west to Wiley's Well Road. Go South on the Wiley Well Road (paved road but turns into a nice graded dirt road) and go past the Wiley Well camp ground. Continue South go past Coon Hollow campground, and past the Bradshaw trail. You will see a sign marked Hauser Geode Beds turn right on this dirt road. (this road is rough in spots,4 wheel drive vehicle suggested, but a 2 wheel drive truck or high ground clearance SUV may make it).

Continue on the more defined road. At 4.4 miles from Hauser Geode bed sign there will be a fork in the road and a sign for Ashley Flats, turn left for the Hauser beds and Potato Patch, right for the Straw beds. On the left fork at 5.4 miles you will reach another fork in the road, left will take you to the potato patch, right will take you to the Hauser Geode beds. At 6.2 miles there is another fork, left to potato patch, right to Hauser bed. For Straw beds continue on Right fork for .7mile take left on next fork, and continue about 3.4 miles to Straw bed. Look for diggings in the side of the hills, you can dig into the green ash and find geodes. Or you can walk around and pick up geodes that other miners missed or didn’t want.




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