Barry Storm and the Storm Jade Mine (Joshua Tree National Park)

Storm Jade Mine
Barry Storm

Barry Storm

The desert has had many characters, some good, some bad, and others just plain odd. Barry Storm tends to fit the latter of three. Storm was born, John G. Climenson in 1910, in the state of Washington. He moved to Arizona in the 1930s, and worked odd jobs and as a part-time reporter.

During his time in the Phoenix area he found that he enjoyed exploring the desert, particularly the Superstition Mountains, and became fixated on the early mining stories of the area. It was at this time that he created the pen name Barry Storm, and wrote the book, “Trail of the Lost Dutchman,” which was published in 1939.

Storm spent a majority of his time in the Superstitions on expeditions looking for lost treasure and mines, even learning to translate symbols left by Spanish miners years prior. This aspect of his life made him the first author of lost treasure stories to actually spend time doing what he was writing about.

Storm took a break from his desert adventures and treasure-seeking in 1943, he joined the Army to help fight World War II. Despite his absence, he continued to do research.

In 1945, Storm published the book, “Thunder Gods Gold”. This became the most important book of his career.  “Thunder Gods Gold” would be adapted in 1949 to a major motion picture titled, “Lust for Gold”, starring Glenn Ford. This movie would go on to make Storm famous, but he was not pleased with his portrayal in it, and sued the movie company claimed that it damaged his reputation, and he won.

While tracking down a lost gold mine, Storm would eventually find himself in the area that is now known as Joshua Tree National Park. But instead of gold, he found a jade deposit that he believed had been pointed out to him by aliens. The strange story as retold to me is that Storm had seen numerous flying saucers in the sky, one of them shined a light beam down to the ground. Storm believing that it was a sign that he was supposed to dig where the light was shining, so he did, and that is where he found the jade deposit.

Storm would spend from 1956 – 1968 living and working at his jade mine. He built a small cabin for $150, and would later bring in a small mobile trailer for his home.

Storm found what he had believed to have been Mayan jade beads while mining his claim, this lead to Storm believing that the Mayan people traveling to this area to extract jade for their masks and other jewelry.  The authenticity of the beads were never verified, but Archaeologist after Storm’s death had found ancient jade mines in Motagua River Valley in Guatemala, which is likely enough evidence that the Mayans never traveled this far to obtain jade.

Barry Storm died on May 18, 1971, at the Long Beach VA hospital. Many people who knew Storm, believed that the isolation that he put himself through those last years of his life may have resulted in his odd claims. One thing is for sure, Storm lived a life of adventure and excitement.

 

Storm Jade Mine - The entrance to Barry Storm's mine as it appears today

Storm Jade Mine – The entrance to Barry Storm’s mine as it appears today

 

Fast forward to current day:

The Storm Jade Mine site has seen better days.  The cabin, and trailer that Storm had lived in are both gone. All that is left of the cabin is a broken concrete foundation, the trailer appears to have been burnt down, a pile of rusty scrap metal sits in its place.  For living and working here, alone for ten years, in a modern time, you really have to wonder how he did it. The sacrifices that he had to make to live this lifestyle would devastate most people today, maybe he saw the world around him and felt more comfortable alone, in nature; with himself and only himself.

The entrance to the mine is open, a rusty old hand painted “Keep Out” sign hangs before the opening. The tunnel only reaches back about 50-feet, which brings to light even more questions about how Storm utilized his time in the ten years that he spent here.

Above the mine entrance is another dug out hole, this one is sealed with a heavy metal door. A faded warning, “Danger Explosives” is painted on the outside; this was likely Storm’s explosive bunker, but it seems odd that he would store explosives directly above the mine. Then again, this was Barry Storm, the same man that said UFOs had pointed out this site to him.  Despite not being able to enter the above shaft, there is an opening that allows you the opportunity to peek inside, it only goes back about fifteen feet, and is filled with old wooden boards.

 

Storm Jade Mine - "Danger Explosives" painted on the metal door to what was likely Storm's explosive bunker.

Storm Jade Mine – “Danger Explosives” painted on the metal door to what was likely Storm’s explosive bunker.

 

Storm Jade Mine - The concrete foundation to Barry Storm's cabin.

Storm Jade Mine – The concrete foundation to Barry Storm’s cabin.

 

We’ll never know what really lead Barry Storm to this site in the Colorado Desert; aliens with flying saucers, or more likely wanting to escape from being the celebrity that he had become but didn’t want to be. Whatever it was, this was his home, and where he wanted to be.

 

 

About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.

3 Comments

  • Great story, Jim. I love stories that inform and interest me at the same time, and somewhat eccentric characters will do it every time! :)

  • Some people see the desert as hot, dry, dead land. Others see it and it calls to them. Clearly when he first saw the desert, he heard the calling.

  • Classic hermit! Desert calls to me, the aliens never get involved but the ancestors do often enough. For now I still like some people :

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