Iron Age Mine (Dale Mining District)

I will begin by saying that I loathe strip mining, and the only reason for inclusion of the Iron Age Mine on this website is for completeness. Strip Mines leave a terrible scar on the landscape, obliterating entire mountains, animal habitats, and vegetation. I’d much rather see an adit on the side of a mountain, at least the mountain still stands in place, and the damage is far minimal.

The Iron Age Mine is located in the northeastern Pinto Mountains, the initial discovery of iron ore deposits was made around 1904 by Marcus Pluth and Tom Scofield. Many of the claims were patented between 1904 and 1908, and remain patented to this day.  In total there are 60 acres of patented (private) claims, with 330 acres of unpatented (public land) claims making up the Iron Age Mine. A majority of the mining took place in the 1930s and the 1960s.

 

Iron Age Strip Mine

Iron Age Strip Mine

 

THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY report entitled, “MINERAL RESOURCE POTENTIAL OF THE COXCOMB MOUNTAINS WILDERNESS STUDY AREA (CDCA-328), SAN BERNARDINO AND RIVERSIDE COUNTIES, CALIFORNIA,” states the following about iron bodies at both the Iron Age and nearby Snowflakes mines:

 

Little is known about these large iron ore bodies. They are associated with the metamorphic assemblage actinolite+chlorite+serpentine in quartz monzonite. Relict textures in the quartz monzonite, primarily orthoclase phenocrysts and rounded quartz grains, as well as the metamorphic assemblage suggest that the iron ore is associated with skarn deposits. No carbonate deposits, however, are known near the mines. High-angle reverse faults further confuse the geologic setting of these mines.

The ore mineral at the Iron Age and Snowflake mines is hematite (Fe2Oo) replacing magnetite (FeO Fe2O3). Wright and others (1953, p. 95) report that assays of 20 samples from the Iron Age mine average 67.27 percent iron, 3.32 percent silica, 0.032 percent sulfur, and 0.6 percent phosphorous. Production at the Iron Age and Snowflake mines exceeded 1.3 million tons from 1964 to 1969.

 

Concrete Mill foundation at the Iron Age Mine.

Concrete Mill foundation at the Iron Age Mine.

 

The body of an abandoned pick-up truck.

The body of an abandoned pick-up truck.

 

 

Reports as recent as January of 2015, from San Bernardino County indicate that Iron Age Mine, LLC of Miramar Beach, FL are in the process of trying to reopen the Iron Age. Environmental studies have been completed, and it is probably only a short time now before work begins.

In the meantime the public still has access to the mine and the surrounding area, but little remains aside from the hideous scars, concrete slabs, and a few old cars discarded over the side of a canyon.

 

Iron Age Mine

Iron Age Mine

 

Secret Places in the Mojave Desert Vol. 7

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.