2013 Nevada-Mojave Trip



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Click on any of the photos or links in the article to see more photos of each site...

Moho, NV

Mining was begun here after silver and gold ore was discovered in 1903. A small town sprang up around several mines. Little remains today -- just several mine shafts, piles of rotting boards and timbers, rusting steel tanks, fallen cabins, and a small steel headframe from a later period.

My next stop was Marietta, in the valley west of Moho...

Marietta, NV

Marietta started out as a borax mining settlement, after the discovery of borax deposits on the nearby dry lake. Francis Marion Smith, aka Borax Smith, made the first claim, and also owned a general store in Marietta.

Later, other ores were discovered in the Excelsior Mountains north of Marietta, providing new sources of jobs and revenue for the town.

Right: A wrought iron strap hinge on the remains of the corral gate.

Below: This small building was still standing when I first visited Marietta back in 1988.

Above: This large stone structure was a general store owned by Borax Smith, of Death Valley fame.

Left: Stone ruins of a mill.

Below: A lizard sunning himself on a wooden post near the mill ruins.

Marietta Mines, NV

There are many mines in the foothills above Marietta, NV. On maps, these are all simply listed as “Marietta Mines”, without individual names. Most are fairly small. I only had time to check out a couple of them and this one was the only one that had standing buildings.

Right: This tri-colored tailings pile reminds me of Neapolitan ice cream!

I wanted to spend more time checking out some of the other mines in the Marietta area, but I really needed to get into Mina for gas and ice. From there I headed east, in search of the Pine Tree Mine...

Pine Tree Mine, NV

The only structures at this mine were a shack of unknown vintage and several modern racks for storing trays of ore samples. There were two adits here. One was piled with sacks of ore. The other had a locked gate. I shot a photo through the gap at the side of the gate. It should the tunnel stacked with empty (?) explosives boxes and other material.

The only evidence of earlier structures was a

small pile of bulldozed debris farther up the


On each day of the trip I encountered scattered thunderstorms in the afternoons and evenings. Usually I just got hit with a few sprinkles or brief rain, and some rumbles of thunder. This day brought something more...

Shortly after leaving the Pine Tree Mine, it began to pour -- a mix of heavy rain and pea-sized hail. Soon the dry washes were turning into torrents. My plan had been to go around to the east side of Pilot Mountain and explore some mines in that area. But the road was already becoming an obstacle course of flooding, mud and debris -- and I could see that the core of the storm was directly over the area I was trying to reach.

So I turned north, intending to head over to another old mining camp called Simon. Although this area had only been hit by the edge of the storm, it was in the path of the runoff. The flood was crisscrossing the road, and every side trail I came to. The wide, shallow currents could be negotiated in four-wheel drive, but then I’d come a place where the water was narrow, fast and deep. It was clear that I couldn’t get far in this direction either.

I decided to give up on these sites and save them for another trip. Instead I headed back to Mina and the highway, then turned north away from the storms.

Luning, NV

Luning was a stop on the old Carson & Colorado Railroad, north of Mina. It is not a ghost town but it does have a few interesting old buildings.

The abandoned industrial building shown here was once served by the railroad. I’m not sure what kind of industry this was, perhaps something to do with mining. It had a truck scale, and a place where trucks dumps their load (ore? rock?) into a bin, where it was moved by conveyor into the main building.

The other side of the building faced a railroad siding and had facilities for loading material into hoppers. The

railroad tracks are long gone now.

A short distance to the east is a building that might have

been a warehouse or freight depot.

Left: The freight depot.

Right: The truck scale and scale house.

A few miles north of Luning, I stopped to have a quick bite to eat as the setting sun cast a warm glow on these rugged mountains. I then left the highway and took a trail that cuts through the Gillis Range.

Just then I discovered that my instrument panel was no longer working! I had no speedometer, no temperature or oil pressure gauges, and worst of all, no gas gauge. For the remainder of the trip I would have to top off the tank at every opportunity. And without being able to tell precisely how much gas I had, I would need to avoid any routes that might take me overly far from a gas station.

Gillis Camp, NV

Just before dark, I came to a place called Gillis Camp. I had only been here once before, way back in 1988, so I was delighted to find that everything was still almost exactly as it was then.

This is a “cowboy camp” rather than a mining camp. It would have been used by ranchers at roundup time (and perhaps still is). It consists of a corral, a cabin, a small shack, and an outhouse.

The cabin is in good shape, and furnished with a bed and mattress, a table and chair, stove and other items. Anyone who wishes to could camp in the cabin. (However, I don’t trust old mattresses in unattended cabins.)

Go to Page 5 to read about the Poinsettia Mine, the Blue Sphinx, and a brush with disaster:

Nevada Trip 2013 Part Five

More great stuff ahead!

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Note to modelers:

Many of the structures I’ve photographed would make great additions to your model railroad. It is my hope that these photos can be a useful reference resource. If you need larger, higher resolution images, just let me know. Also, in some cases I have additional detail photos that have not been posted online.

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