The Aiken Cinder Mine began operation in 1948. Around this same time, most of the gold mining operations in the area began to fizzle out. The Aiken Mine and the nearby Cima Cinder Mine opened in the same year and both focused on Cinder mining. The Aiken Mine operated until 1990, when the operation and equipment was abandoned.
Aiken Mine was much more well-known for being the location of the Mojave Desert Phone Booth than it ever has been for the mine itself. The phone booth was placed near the Aiken Mine in the 1960’s to provide telephone service to both the Aiken and Cima Cinder mines.
The phone booth became internationally known in 1997 due to becoming an internet sensation. It didn’t take long before people from all over the world would begin calling the number (760) 733-9969. Interestingly enough, sometimes someone would answer as it became a pastime or maybe even an obsession for some people to camp out and answer the phone, even to the point of keeping logs as to where the calls originated from.
On May 17, 2000, Pacific Bell removed the phone booth at the request of the National Park Service. NPS wanted the booth removed due to the increased traffic and environmental impact that the additional traffic was having on the area.
Despite the famous phone booth now being gone, there is plenty left to see at Aiken Mine. Much, if not all, of the mining equipment is still in place. Massive conveyor belts still make their way down the cinder mountain; tractors, trucks, and engines are strung around the property. Inside of the old scale house you will find an old Fairbanks – Morse scale. Many of the housing structures still stand even if only by a string, due to the last two decades of vandalism.
In all, there are hours worth of adventure and discovery to be had here.