Mule Tail Mine (Death Valley National Park)

The Mule Tail Mail - Looking down Marble Canyon
The Mule Tail Mail - Looking down Marble Canyon

The Mule Tail Mail – Looking down Marble Canyon

 

The Mule Tail Mine is located in a remote region of Death Valley National Park – the upper reaches of Marble Canyon.

The discovery of the Mule Tail Mine is credited to Shorty Harris, a legendary Death Valley prospector. Discovered in 1904, it is often cited as his first discovery in the region. Shorty would go on to be credited with the discoveries of Bullfrog in Nevada, and Harrisburg in the Panamint Range.

The Mule Tail discovery was initially located as a talc mine, however there was enough traces of gold and tungsten in the ore, that it set off a rush – and so began the Goldbelt Mining District.  But the Goldbelt district never really took off, despite attempts by several parties. The camp that sprung up near Goldbelt Spring, became a ghost town before those that moved in had the opportunity to unpack.

Shorty’s mine had a short revival in 1916, with $1,500 in ore being removed in March of that year.

The Mule Tail Mine - Inside the lower adit the rail tracks remain intact.

The Mule Tail Mine – Inside the lower adit the rail tracks remain intact.

 

Mule Tail Mine - Discarded ore cart.

Mule Tail Mine – Discarded ore cart.

 

After 1916, the records for the mine are nonexistent until the mine exchanged hands in 1941. The mine’s new owner, William C. Thompson, improved the roads leading to the mine, and purchased new machinery. Despite his efforts, little to no new work was performed during his ownership.

Today the Mule Tail sits in shambles. The adits have collapsed in places, and are very unstable. A discarded rusty ore cart sits near the rail tracks leading out of the lower adit, and rotten lumber from fallen ore bins lies scattered across the landscape.

The view from the mine is breathtaking, in one direction a view straight down Marble Canyon, and in the other, the jagged peaks that surround Hidden Valley.

The Mule Tail Mine - Looking toward the jagged mountains, surrounding Hidden Valley. The old mining road is clearly visible in this photograph.

The Mule Tail Mine – Looking toward the jagged mountains, surrounding Hidden Valley. The old mining road is clearly visible in this photograph.

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.