Ubehebe Talc Mine aka. The Stone Pencil Mine (Death Valley National Park)

Ubehebe Talc Mine - Ore bins, can be beautiful.
Ubehebe Talc Mine - Mine Hazard Area

Ubehebe Talc Mine – Mine Hazard Area

 

The Ubehebe Talc Mine, along with the Keeler Talc Mine are located, in the hills east of Ulida Flat. A spur road branches off of Hidden Valley Road, which accesses Ubehebe Talc. But be aware, the road doesn’t see much traffic, and is prone to wash outs. During a recent visit, the road leaving Hidden Valley Road, had no tire tracks, and was built up-on from the last grading of Hidden Valley. My best estimate, places the last visitor, several months prior.

Consisting of four load claims – Ubehebe Talc was located in January of 1945. The mine was worked on a small-scale during the World War II era – for high-grade and steatite-grade talc. Steastite-grade talc was used in the production of high-frequency radio electrical insulator; while high-grade was used in cosmetics.

During the 1960s and into the early 70s, the mine was operated by Sierra Talc Company. They developed the mine, measuring to 500 feet long by 20 feet wide, and had developed the underground working about 15 to 25 feet vertically.

 

Ubehebe Talc Mine - The talc Gods await!

Ubehebe Talc Mine – The talc Gods await!

 

Ubehebe Talc Mine - Ore bins, can be beautiful.

Ubehebe Talc Mine – Ore bins, can be beautiful.

 

Ubehebe Talc Mine - ...as well as their surroundings.

Ubehebe Talc Mine – …as well as their surroundings.

 

Ubehebe Talc Mine - Let's go inside!

Ubehebe Talc Mine – Let’s go inside!

 

In the mid-1970s, Cyprus Industrial Minerals Company, purchased the mine. Their workings were limited, due to the inaccessibility and narrowness of the road. Cyprus, proposed a widening of the road – but were denied by the National Park Service, which already controlled the surrounding lands.

Actions like this are common with the National Park Service, when it comes to private lands in the parks – hoping that the land will be abandoned, so that a land grab can transpire. Eventually it worked.

Today, the mining ruins at Ubehebe Talc are plentiful – ore bins, ore cart tracks, and an assortment of other goodies. The main tunnel remains open, but like many mines, the timbering is questionable, and there have been cave-ins.

 

Ubehebe Talc Mine - Well, that isn't a good sign.

Ubehebe Talc Mine – Well, that isn’t a good sign.

 

Ubehebe Talc Mine - Jim poses with a big ole' surveyors stick.

Ubehebe Talc Mine – Jim poses with a big ole’ surveyors stick.

 

Ubehebe Talc Mine - Always a good sign, that it is time to go.

Ubehebe Talc Mine – Always a good sign, that it is time to go.

 

A residential area, situated below the mines, contains a standing ransacked corrugated-metal house. The lumber from at least a couple additional structures, lie collapsed on the ground nearby.

The surrounding washes, provide for a scavenger hunt of old rusty vehicles, bottles, cans, and other signs of a time when humans once worked this powdery hole in the ground.

 

Ubehebe Talc Mine - A corrugated-metal house, the only housing structure to remain standing.

Ubehebe Talc Mine – A corrugated-metal house, the only housing structure to remain standing.

 

Ubehebe Talc Mine - The inside, is like something straight of our a horror film.

Ubehebe Talc Mine – The inside, is like something straight of our a horror film.

 

Was one of the Saw movies filmed here?

Was one of the Saw movies filmed here?

 

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.

2 Comments

Leave a Comment