Even though we visited the southern California desert last month, there were still locations I wanted to visit so I embarked on a solo trip to the Mojave National Preserve. In my research with Google Earth I had located a number of mines and mine cabins.
The Evening Star mine was the first one I stopped at and I was amazed at how good a condition it was in. I suppose this is due to the mine being active during 1939—1944. It was the only producer of tin ore in the Mojave Desert.
J. Riley Bembry filed a claim on the site as a copper prospect but sold it before developing it. My next stop was at the Riley cabin. Riley Bembry was a long-time resident in the area.
There are several mining cabins in the area. Riley’s has been refurbished and is available for overnight stays. While I was looking around a couple of park service folks stopped by for a sort of inspection. One of them was the guy who did much of the refurbishment. I followed them around as they visited other cabins in the area. It was interesting to hear them talk about what has been done and what is yet planned to be done.
Below is a photo of a cabin that will be refurbished to give an indication of how much work it will be. The site has already had most of the trash removed, but there are certainly a lot of structural repairs required.
Out by Ivanpah I stopped at the Goldome Mining complex which shut down less than 40 years ago. It’s a fairly modern gold ore processing facility that seems to have been systematically stripped of anything small enough to carry away. It’s also a superfund site—I assume because of cyanide contamination.
I stayed in Barstow so I went out Mule Canyon in the Calico Mountains. I again tried to find some nodules that might contain fossilized insects. I did find some concretion-like nodules, but it remains to be seen (after some lengthy acid dissolving) if they contain any fossilized insects. I also checked out the old Borax mining area (Borate) and hiked along the old railroad grade. The trestles would have been impressive, but when they stopped mining in the area they disassembled everything and took it to a new area in Death Valley.
The Harvey House (Casa del Desierto) is a nicely restored remnant of the bygone era of rail-travel.
I also did a short hike in Rainbow Basin and tagged along with a small group of college students on a geology field trip. The colorful rock layers are tilted and in some places jumbled. The photogenic syncline (a V shaped structure) was clearly revealed.
I have researched a few aircraft crash sites, and so far haven’t been able to reach any of them. A Piper Navajo (twin-engine) near the abandoned Hart airstrip was easy to get to. It’s not the first crash site I have visited, but it is the first I found just by perusing Google Earth.
After that I explored around the Hart site and saw a few more interesting things before calling it a day.
— Mojave Desert, March 2017 gallery