Ghost Towns and Mines


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 the 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!

Posted August 2012.

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Sweed Mine, CA