Gold Rose Well and Mill (Joshua Tree National Park)

So much for the concept that there is no water in Joshua Tree National Park’s, Pinto Basin. Sure, it doesn’t flow above ground like it once did thousands of years ago, it now sits deep down in the earth and must be extracted by drilling, and pumping the water to the surface. Three such wells are situated along the northern edge of the basin, below the Pinto Mountains. These are the Mission, Sunrise, and the Gold Rose Wells, none of which are active.

The Gold Rose is the most isolated of the three wells, located roughly a mile from the Old Dale Road dirt track that crosses the basin from northeast to southwest, or southwest to northeast, depending on how you look at it. Because the Gold Rose Well sits within a Wilderness Boundary, there is no longer an open driving route that reaches the site. Hiking to the Gold Rose is a simple one mile hike east across open desert from the Mission Well (located directly along Old Dale Road), you can also follow Pinto Wash for the duration.

The late 1930’s – 1940’s era well site is in shambles, however enough rusty gold is laying around to keep the guys from American Pickers in hog heaven. While the well was in operation, a caretaker lived on site, maintaining the operation. The well provided water for other nearby residents, and in later years the Gold Rose Mill, located less than a quarter of a mile northeast of the well. The well was dug to 450 feet, or nearly 42 stories!

 

Welcome to the Gold Rose Well and Mill.

Welcome to the Gold Rose Well and Mill.

 

Gold Rose Well

Gold Rose Well

 

I'm not sure if it still works.

I’m not sure if it still works.

 

All that it needs is a new door!

All that it needs is a new door!

 

Santa's sand sleigh?

Santa’s sand sleigh?

 

Car parts and miscellaneous rusty gold.

Car parts and miscellaneous rusty gold.

 

It is quite apparent by the amassment of vehicle parts and tires around the property, and nearby wash that the caretaker also dabbled in vehicle mechanics.  There are no longer any structures standing at Gold Rose Well, however the concrete foundation that was built around the well remains in tact, along with some of the pumping mechanisms, a water tank, and several outdoor storage facilities. Along with the collection of vehicle parts, there are household appliances such a stove, and refrigerator, all left as a reminder of what once was.

The Gold Rose Mill was built in 1949 by Dale Holmes and Herbert Oehls to support their Gold Rose Mine, located five miles away in the Pinto Mountains. The mill was a flotation concentration operation consisted of a Black crusher, Wheeler ball mill,¬†amalgamation jig, amalgamation plates, a cone tank, and two settling tanks. While the machinery was removed in the early 1960’s, the settling tanks, and cone tank remain on site along with a truck ramp, large concrete foundations, and miscellaneous odds and ends.

While some would consider these sites nothing more than trash dumps, I found them both intriguing based on that very same reasoning.

 

Foundation of the Gold Rose Mill.

Foundation of the Gold Rose Mill.

 

Leaching tanks.

Leaching tanks.

 

A big ass funnel.

A big ass funnel.

 

Truck ramp, leading up to the mill site.

Truck ramp, leading up to the mill site.

 

Obligatory old vehicle porn.

Obligatory old vehicle porn.

 

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.