I enjoy wandering, I prefer it over walking the same old trail that thousands of people have walked before me. The reward in not taking the beaten path sometimes comes in finding interesting places or things that are not common knowledge.
I’ve scoured around Queen Mountain and Valley at various times over the past year. The area has kind of become my go to place when I’m feeling too lazy to plan anything else. Don’t take that the wrong way, I do thoroughly enjoy the area. Along the base of Queen Mountain there are stacks of boulders, a variety of flora and fauna, and even some Native American archaeological sites.
On this particular “wander” I parked at the loop on Queen Valley Road, and hiked west toward the Wall Street Mill. I had yet to meander through the boulder stacks west of the loop, and had wanted to check them for any rock shelters.
I came up empty-handed in the rock shelter department – but was surprised when I came upon a fireplace, can dump, and several mines with tailing piles along the base of Queen Mountain. There are no mention of these mines on any modern-day maps, it took going back to a topographic map pre-National Park status to even find an acknowledgement of their existence; which only showed an “x” at their general location, but no camp or mine names.
The fireplace was peculiar, there is literally just a fireplace – no foundation, no fallen stone walls or additional ruins. An outline of what appears to have been a flower bed sits a few feet away, but that is all. My only thought is that there may have been a wooden structure, but that is very uncharacteristic of this area. There are several can dumps in the vicinity of both the mines and the fireplace, inspection of the rusty cans reveal that they date to around 1920.
The mines have decent tailing piles, suggesting that the workings are more significant than just a hole that goes no further than 20 feet. Unfortunately one will never know, despite being unmarked on maps, the NPS has bat caged them closed; which possibly wasn’t a bad idea considering they appear very unstable, and have already succumb to collapse near the entrances.
While not the discovery of the century, this was a cool little find.
Never be afraid to wander.