Hensen Well (Joshua Tree National Park)

Hensen Well - One of four stone buildings ruins that are on site.


Hensen Well was a small mining site located in the vicinity of Pushwalla Plateau, and Pleasant Valley. In the late 1890s or early 1900s, a Chilean mill, and four stone structures were constructed.

Chilean mills were used during the earliest days of gold mining, usually consisting of two large stones which rotated as it was pulled by a horse. The heavy stone would crush the ore, allowing one to see if the quartz was gold-bearing.

The mill at Hensen Well is no longer standing, but the large crushing wheels that were used are still on site. Unlike the traditional stone wheels, the Hensen Mill utilized two iron wheels that were filled with stone and concrete. You may have to look closely around the site to find the wheels, they are pretty well hidden among the thick vegetation.

The mill was popular among nearby miners (likely the Pinyon Mine, Hansen Mine and the Bonanza Lode) in the early 1900s to bring their ore to be crushed.


Hensen Well - Grinding wheel from the Chilean Mill that once stood here.

Hensen Well – Grinding wheel from the Chilean Mill that once stood here.


When hiking the area many of the old mining roads are still visible in sections, including the road leading to the Hensen Well Mill site. Along with the stone structures, a lot of rusty gold remains, in the form of sardine cans, oil cans, canned goods, and broken glass bottles.


Hensen Well - Rusty gold!

Hensen Well – Rusty gold!



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.