It is sometimes shocking the things that you can find in an area that you have scoured over time and time again, proving just how massive and vast our desert is. When you think you’ve seen it all, you find new clues leading to places or things that you had no inkling existed. For whatever reason the western portion of the Pinto Mountains has largely gone undocumented, possibly because the mining operations were small in comparison to the kings of the Dale Mining District, like the Supply Mine, Gold Crown, Virginia Dale, along with several other “big dogs” that are in the northern and eastern portion of the mountain range.
Programs like Google Earth have become a big help in tracking down old mining ruins, often old roads and walking trails are visible in the satellite images, which can then be followed to structures, foundations, and disturbed earth. Of course the computerized version can only tell you so much, and putting boots to the dirt is the next step in finding if you’ve found something interesting, or just plain lame. Unfortunately a lot of hard work and wasted hours go into finding far more lame places than actually something worth writing about.
I found “The Ghost Flower” Mine by following the above recipe, along with cross referencing the location with topographical maps of the region. There were no names associated with the mine in any published source, and the topographical maps simply showed an “x” at the locations of the various adits and shafts that dot the canyon. The obvious next step was getting out there to see what, if anything remained.
The canyon wash containing the mine is boulder strung, making it a bit of a pain in the ass to traverse, but an old road follows a ridge line above the canyon. The road had not been driven in eons, the desert has considerably taken it back, with cactus and creosote growing up the middle of the two-track. The hike is short at about two miles in each direction, the scenery stunning with an array of desert vegetation being located in the Mojave/Sonoran transition zone. The Ghost Flower, a stunningly beautiful green flower that is often rare to see is very prominent in the wash and surrounding hill sides, prompting me to bestow the flower’s name upon the long forgotten mine.
Suddenly there are multiple foot paths that veer off from the road, leading to different vertical shafts, and shallow adits. In the wash was what appeared to be the crown jewel. A large tailing pile of iron ore filled the wash, with rails leading into an adit. From across the wash it appeared that the adit had been sealed closed, but upon closer inspection, the mine simply had an old door installed ten feet or so inside of the opening. The old door creaked as I entered, and slammed closed behind me. The adit was dug short, forcing me to walk hunched over for a considerable distance. The rails continued the length of the adit, coming to an end at roughly 150-200 feet inside, where it opened up into a stope with a vertical shaft entering from above. Another tunnel continued to the left, and has began to crumble and collapse, it continued for an additional fifty feet or so before coming to an end.
Back outside of the adit, on a bench behind the mine was the location of a small camp. A very sturdy stone building continues to stand, only missing the roof, which the old weathered wood can be found scattered about the site. A large collection of rusty can, and the shell of an old camp cook stove is found behind the building.
Just as I thought that I had seen everything that there was to be seen, I found a foot trail leading east, and up and over the mountain. I followed it for roughly a half-mile, when I ran into evidence of placer mining in the wash. Trenches had been dug to catch mineral deposits as they flowed down the wash after a significant rainfall. Further scouring of the area revealed a half-dozen more shafts in the region, some relatives short, while others appeared to be very deep.
The trail continued up and over additional hills, then turned toward the north. Another half a mile along and there was yet another intact stone building, like the other, missing its roof. An old wooden ladder sat behind the behind the building, probably at one time it was used for accessing one or multiple of the shallow shafts. Broken glass, and rusty cans littered the hillside below the cabin.
All in all, “The Ghost Flower” Mine is an interesting location, and far better preserved than most of the mines in the Pinto Mountains. It is unfortunate that any history surrounding the mine hasn’t been recorded, or if it has, hasn’t been made public.