2012 Nevada-Mojave Trip


Part FIVE: From nevada to the mojave!

Skip to:   Part One   Part Two   Part Three   Part Four   Part Five

Bellehelen District, NV

Mining began in this part of the Kawich Range in 1904 and continued off and on until 1929. A small town formed, originally named “Henry” but later the town was renamed “Bellehelen”. The are many mines in this area, most of them small with few ruins or structures.

In the morning I headed down the nearest trail until I came to the Merger Mine at the upper end of Neversweat Canyon. (Yes, that’s really the name of the canyon!)

On the slope near the mine is the remains of a 100-stamp mill. Not much left, just some crumbling foundations, scraps of rotting lumber, and piles of tailings.

The main adit of the mine is a long tunnel reaching far into the mountain, with an unlocked wooden door a the entrance.

Going up the mountain, I came to the upper reaches of the mine, where the miners followed a vein of ore deep into the ground via an open stope and some vertical shafts.

Here’s a short video looking down a mineshaft at the Merger Mine. You can see a rock dropped into the shaft and listen to hear how long it takes to reach bottom:

Right: A zoom lens provides a safe view down into the stope.

Next I came to the Ben Hur Mine. This old mine has been reworked at some point in the recent past. The rotting wooden headframe has been torn down and replaced with a small frame of welded tubular steel. A heavy grate over the shaft prevents falls and keeps out intruders.

It’s possible this mine may still be worked on an occasional basis, either by a single miner or a small team.

I had a long way to go on this day so I had to move on before fully exploring the area. As I left I passed the ruins of a small stone cabin. This was at or near the site of Bellehelen, a former mining town.  I could not see any sign that there had ever been a town here -- no ruins, no foundations -- so I’m not sure if this was the townsite or not. I’ll have to look around some more next year. There are more mines in the area I’d like to look for next time, too.

Above: Wild horses in the southern Stone Cabin Valley, west of Bellehelen, NV.

Left: I shot this crude self-portrait in the passenger side mirror while driving to my next destination.

Golden Arrow, NV

Located in the south end of Stone Cabin Valley. Gold ore was found here in 1905 and a town was formed the following year. Population soon reached 200, but there wasn’t enough profitable ore and the town was a ghost by 1909. Occasional activity took place over the next few decades. In the 1970’s a large scale leaching operation destroyed most of the town ruins.

Currently there is little remaining here. Just a lot of old boards, the ruins of a concrete building, some stone walls, and several mine shafts. Up until the late 1990’s the was still a large headframe over one of the mine shafts, but now there is no trace of it.

Curiously, I found two pallets of drilling chemicals here, along with some threaded pipes that might be used in drilling. They looked almost new but had been there at least a few weeks or months. When I got home, a quick Google search showed that the company which owns all the claims in the area has been doing exploratory drilling over the past two years or more.

Above: I spotted these antelope on my way back to Tonopah after leaving Golden Arrow.

Tule Corral, NV

By the time I returned to Tonopah it was late afternoon. I had to be home in San Diego in just under 24 hours. The only way to achieve this was to camp in the Mojave desert of southern California, so I had a lot of driving ahead of me.

Still, I had time to take the scenic route and visit a few small sites along the way. The first was an old corral and cabin in Tule Canyon, southwest of Gold Point, NV. This surprisingly photogenic corral is mostly made of old, spiral-wound, riveted pipe. Most likely, this pipe once carried water from a distant spring to a ranch or mine, and was put to new use as fencing when it became too rusted to hold water.

Roosevelt Well, NV

This site a few miles down the canyon from Tule Corral was once a mining camp. Currently there is another corral made of riveted pipe, a windmill, the ruins of a five-stamp mill, a few fallen cabins, and one cabin which is still standing. There are some small mines up in the hills behind the townsite.

(Note: The ghosttowns.com website calls this place “Roosevelt City”, but the historical photos they show are actually of Roosevelt, Arizona -- a town that was created to support the construction of the Roosevelt Dam on the Salt River.)

Right: The cabin at Roosevelt Well.

Below: Stone ruins at the Lower Tule Canyon site.

Lower Tule Canyon, NV

At the lower end of Tule Canyon is the site of another former mining camp (above). So far I’ve been unable to find out anything about this site, not even its name. There are several low, stone ruins on both sides of the canyon. On the east side there are at least three adits. One of these had a small colony of bats nesting just inside the entrance. There are some mines and prospects on the west side too, including a more recent open cut mine.

Left: A bat flutters through the mine.

Right: This rusting, beat-up old Caterpillar tractor sits just outside the adit. Across the canyon is the open cut mine where the tractor was formerly used. I have detailed photos of this tractor on my Vintage Machinery page.

Below: Leaving Tule Canyon and heading into Death Valley as day fades away.

Sweed Mine, CA

This is one of many mines in the Silurian Hills, north of Baker, CA. This particular mine has no name listed on the topographic maps, and I haven’t found any history of it online. But there is a foundation inscribed with the name “Sweed”, dated 1931, so I’m calling it the Sweed Mine.

At the foot of the mountain is a well-preserved cabin which apparently is maintained by a group of desert enthusiasts. The interior of the cabin is rather boring, but is neat and reasonably clean, and would provide a good place to sleep in cold weather. In August, the cabin’s interior was unbearably hot at night, and I didn’t even try to enter it during the day.

There is a large, level clearing in front of the cabin, which is where I camped. The clearing is surrounded on three sides by a tidy ring of stones, with a small ditch to provide drainage in wet weather. Intricate stone stairs and walkways provide access to three sides of the cabin, and another stone pathway runs from the cabin to a small viewpoint nearby. Whoever put these stone pathways together did a masterful job, especially considering they are laid “dry”, without mortar.

Around the hill to the northwest, is a small mining area, with some old foundations and other remnants of earlier mining activity. This is also a large stone tank set into the hill, which was probably used to hold water for the mine and cabin.

Much higher up the hill is a large, graded clearing which is accessed via a trail behind the cabin. There is a rusty tank lying on the ground. In photos I’ve seen online, just a few years ago this tank was on the back of a 1958 International Harvester truck. There was a WWII era truck abandoned there too, with a portably drilling rig on the back. The older truck with the drilling rig is now missing. The cab of the tank truck is now at the bottom of the hill near the cabin, badly damaged, with a smashed transmission and no rear frame or axel.

At the very top of this hill, north of the cabin, is a wooden structure which at first I thought was a collapsed headframe. I hiked up there and found that it’s actually the remains of an aerial tram tower. Far across the canyon, way up the side of the mountain, there is a series of mines. The tram was used to bring ore from those mines down the base of the foothills.

I made the climb up to the tram terminal at the mines, and explored a bit of the tunnel nearest to the tram terminal. Altogether, this was a very interesting site, and a fitting end to my 2012 adventure!

Left: Inside the mine behind the tram terminal.

Below: My last shot of the trip - a panoramic view of the Silurian Hills, location of the Sweed Mine. The Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad used to pass right by this very spot.

That concludes my 2012 Nevada-Mojave trip. Thanks for following along, I hope you enjoyed it!

Go Back To Part Four


Return to Ghost Towns Page

Return to Photography and Graphics page