Snow White Mine (Red Rock Canyon State Park)

The Snow White Mine in the El Paso Mountains is probably a mine that you are not familiar with. I came across it several years ago, but the photographs have sat in my archives ever since. I never really giving it much thought again until I recently began combing through these old images.

The mine is situated at the end of a box canyon on the east border of Red Rock Canyon State Park. Based on the white powdery consistency of the minerals at this mine my initial impression was that the Snow White Mine was a talc or pumicite mine. That would make sense with the larger Old Dutch Cleanser and Holly Ash Mines (both pumicite mines) being in the vicinity, but that is not the case. The Snow White was a claystone mine. The claystone, which consists of altered rhyolite mixed with opal was blasted out of the cut than mucked into trucks with a bulldozer. It was then trucked to Cantil, where it was loaded onto the Southern Pacific Railroad, and delivered to a mill in Los Angeles.

 

One shoddy looking adit.

One shoddy looking adit.

 

A quick look inside shows that the ceiling has begun collapsing.

A quick look inside shows that the ceiling has begun collapsing.

 

The mill processed ninety to one hundred and twenty tons of clay per day, with a value of $25 – $35 per ton. The clay was sold primarily around Southern California for use in dinnerware, tile, and filler in rubber.

The mine was operated by O.J. Salisbury of Cantil for an unknown length of time prior to World War II. Currently an environmental assessment is being completed by the BLM, with plans to reopen the mine in the near future.

For the time being there isn’t much to look at. There is significant scaring from roads that were built around the mine. There are also several mine openings, each of which are boarded up, and appear from the outside to be unstable.

 

From the Snow White Mine there are fantastic views overlooking Red Rock Canyon State Park.

From the Snow White Mine there are fantastic views overlooking Red Rock Canyon State Park.

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.