Cow Bell Mine aka. Joel Mine

Here is yet another virtually unknown mine, this time in the Humbug Mountains. The Humbugs sit north of the Pinto Mountains, and west of the main Dale Mining District. It is unclear which of the mining districts the Cow Bell was a part of, but it very well likely could have been a less known in the Dale District. The Gypsy Mine which is situated just a few miles north, also in the Humbugs, was considered part of the Dale.

There is no recorded history for the Cow Bell, not so much as an owners name or a date. The mine was however cataloged in a 1991 mine survey of Riverside County. The information recorded pertained exclusively to mineralogy, and the technical specifics of the mine.

“Mineralized quartz veins up to 12 inches wide along a series of NW and NE trending shear zones in quart monzonite which is by andesite dikes. The northwest-trending shears strike N8-18°W, are vertical, and are up to 7 feet wide. They have been developed by a shaft reported to be at least 100 feet deep (southernmost working), a 30-foot shaft, a 15-foot shaft, and a few small pits. The southernmost shear can be followed for about 150 feet. The main northeastern shear trends N60° E and dips 60° S. It is reported to be up to 3 feet wide. Development along the shear is a shaft which is at least 50 feet deep. At the time of the site investigation for this report, the shaft had been recently filled. About 1,200 feet northeast of the filled shaft, an 8-foot shaft and a small pit was dug along the shear containing a 12-inch-wide mineralized quart vein. The shear and vein trend about N25° E and are vertical.”

“Mineralogy: quartz, limonite, pyrite, chrysocolla, caliche, hematite, chalcopyrite, chalcedony, malachite, boxwork.

– MINERAL LAND CLASSIFICATION OF THE EASTERN HALF OF RIVERSIDE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA (1994)

 

Stone structure at the Cow Bell Mine.

Stone structure at the Cow Bell Mine.

 

With the boring stuff out-of-the-way, let’s get down to what remains on site. Sitting along the banks of the wash are the ruins of a large well constructed stone structure, probably the home of the miner that at one time worked the old mine. The walls of the cabin have begun to crumble, but for the most part what remains in tact appears sturdy, and will likely stand long into the future. Beside the stone structure is what appears to be a decimated trolley car.  What on earth a trolley car was doing out in this remote setting is beyond me, I can only figure that it was purchased and moved on site as a cheap option for storage. Beyond that theory, I’m clueless. This is the desert after all, and weird out-of-place things are not that uncommon to come along.

 

A decimated trolley car in the desert?

A decimated trolley car in the desert?

 

The smallest arrastra that I've ever seen, at just a few feet wide on all sides.

The smallest arrastra that I’ve ever seen, at just a few feet wide on all sides.

 

Just beyond the stone building is the smallest arrastra that I’ve ever come across, at just a few feet wide on all sides. Arrastras are primitive mills utilized for crushing ore. A drag stone was dragged along a circular stone pit, which crushed ore that was placed inside. Usually the drag stone was pulled by a horse or burro, but sometimes an engine was utilized. Because of the small size, in the case of this particular arrastra, I would assume that a burro was utilized.

The mines are situated on top of the mountain, a good 4×4 road is easily followed from the camp. The mines are nothing spectacular to look at, as stated in the report above, one of the main shafts is filled in. The other is very shady looking, with the surrounding ground being poorly reinforced with corrugated metal. The tops of the mountain does however provide spectacular views of the surrounding valley.

All in all, the Cow Bell Mine is an interesting foray into the more obscure locations in the area.

 

The shady shaft. Best best is to give it a wide berth.

The shady shaft. Best best is to give it a wide berth.

 

Breathtaking view of the surrounding valley.

Breathtaking view of the surrounding valley.

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.

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