Henson Mine (Joshua Tree National Park)

The Henson Mine (also known as Hansen, Hensen, and Hanson) is one of a few mines on the Pushawalla Plateau in the Little San Bernardino Mountains. It was part of the Pinyon Mining District, one of the earliest districts in what is now Joshua Tree National Park.

The early history of the Henson Mine is unknown, however it may have been part of the operations of the nearby Pinyon Mine. When they Keys family purchased the Pinyon Group of mines in 1960, they stated that “Hansen shaft” was on their Grand View claim.

The Henson Mine consists of a vertical shaft of unknown depth, and several short adits. No production values were ever recorded.

Reaching the Henson Mine requires a 2.5 mile hike up Pushwalla Canyon, along the old Pushawalla Canyon Freight Road, once the main routes between Indio and the mines and ranches of the region.

 

Mill ruins at Henson Mine.

Mill ruins at Henson Mine.

 

Barrier placed in the Pushawalla Canyon Freight Road.

Barrier placed in the Pushawalla Canyon Freight Road.

 

The first half of the hike, the old road is nonexistent with the exception of a section of busted up pavement. For the most part you follow a sandy wash that can be sometimes slow going. Eventually at a cross-road the old road becomes visible and easy to follow as it traverses up to Pushawalla Plateau. You’ll know you are going the right way when you reach a barrier placed in the road, preventing vehicular traffic. The scenery throughout the hike is stunning, with vegetation ranging from Pinyon Pine, Juniper, Joshua Trees, an assortment of cacti, and desert scrub.

At the Henson Mine today there is little that remains. The site of a mill is evident by a twelve foot high stone wall, concrete machine foundations, and a large support beam that is embedded in the ground. The vertical shaft sits behind the stone wall, and is caged off to prevent entry.  Several can dumps, and historic trash can be found scattered across the landscape.

Overall a visit to the Henson Mine alone is far from worthwhile, however the scenery, and the ability to combine several other historic locations into one trip makes up for lack of significance of the Henson Mine ruins.

Combine this trip with: Hensen Well, Pinyon Well, and the Pinyon Mine.

 

An anchored post of some sort.

An anchored post of some sort.

 

Obligatory can dump at Henson Mine.

Obligatory can dump at Henson Mine.

 

View of Coachella Valley from Pushawalla Plateau.

View of Coachella Valley from Pushawalla Plateau.

 

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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