Thursday, February 13, 2014

Found a Mica Mine

Thursday, February 13, 2014

As I stood just beyond the gate into the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, a white truck with two wildlife rangers came up to where I was standing.  I asked if it was okay for me to enter the park and they said “no problem, but I need to see your permit.”  I had no permit.  They were very nice and told me I could pick one up for free at their park headquarters in Ajo, at my convenience. 

What a bummer, I had driven almost an hour to get to the gate, just to have to go back to Ajo to get a permit.  Of course, they followed me out and since there is only one main road out, I decided to just go into town and pick up a permit.

Went into town and as I was completing the paperwork, the two rangers walked in.  We said “hi” and had a nice talk about the area and places of interest.  It was worth the time as it turned out, because now I have maps of the area and places to go see.

Sun coming up over the eastern mountains.

This morning, I headed back down the road and this time took a better look at the cactus I had picked up in my photo of the white streaked mountain and sure enough it is a crested Saguaro CactusCrested Saguaro Crested Saguaro

I was soon back at the gate and ready to head in.Refuge sign

I am now legal to enter the refuge.  Here is a typical looking Saguaro you see in the comics or on TV.Typical Saguaro

It was at least a mile by foot, Long walk toward the mine. and as I was heading up the last hill, Getting close. I looked up and right in front of me was a house. 

Looked up and there was a house. Rear of house.

Front looking from mining area.
I had arrived at my destination.  As I looked around the deserted area, I could see the house from the mining area and the bull dozer between them. Bull dozer. Looking from front door. 

The house looked to have been built in the 50’s and showed extreme signs of ravaging by the elements and vandals.  There was still a lot of furnishings in the home.  Several mattresses, a stove, a couch, table and an old TV.  It has a front room with a kitchen off to one corner, a small hall with two bedrooms and a bathroom between them.

Kitchen area
Front room.
Front room.
Hall w/bathroom door.
Hall w/bathroom door

Bedroom 1
Bedroom 2

Living area 
Living area.

Ole Two Fingers in the background.
Ole Two Fingers in the background.

I believe this is the mine entrance.The mine entrance. Concrete wall with vent.

If there had been a mine that went underground, the entrance was completely filled except for a ventilation pipe sticking out of the concrete.  There was evidence of strip mining on the hill and rocks with mica were everywhere.  Flakes of mica looked like small mirror reflections as the sunlight bounced off them.Hill has been stripped mined.
Much of the machinery used in the mining operation were still in place, but severely rusted.Looking at machinery from above. 

Walked around the area, taking in the extreme solitude and thinking of the time when men worked the mine, dropping rocks filled with mica down the chute and running that bull dozer to collect more rock.  It was evident that at one time, this was an active mine located miles from Ajo, the nearest town.  It makes you wonder, was the payout worth the effort.

After about an hour, the battery in my camera gave up the ghost and it was time to walk the mile back to the jeep.  Made it home, but was tired from the hike, so laid around the motorhome and watched the Olympics this afternoon and evening.

See you later.


  1. Doesn't look like that house has changed much since we were there about 3 years ago. You were close to the Growler Mountains out there & that is where famed desert writer Edward Abbey is somewhere buried they say. He wrote Desert Solitaire. We did a long drive out on the Cabeza Prieta as well after obtaining permits & watching the video. Long bumpy drive & a long walk at the end. Might want to take some extra water along. We saw some Border Patrol stuff going on way back there & steered clear of it...............

    1. It was a long hot walk to the mine for sure. It is getting hotter each day and will be close to 90 this weekend. Talking about record heat. I talked to an old gentleman at the mine overlook in Ajo today and he told me about several mines along the scenic loop here at Darby Well Road. Will check out tomorrow. Hope you enjoy the Sedona area.