In The Desert
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Barry Goldwater Range, Yuma, Arizona
This is an inter-active Wikimapia Arizona Map. You can zoom in / out and drag the map to scroll. Mouse over the map. Try it!
Getting here from the Yuma Foothills can be tricky if you don't follow the map that you'll be given when you get your pass at the Marine Base on Ave. 3E in Yuma. You have to acquire a pass - they're free. When you get near the mine you'll start to see glory holes like this one to the right. Most don't go very far into the hills and some like this one aren't safe. If your not sure, then don't enter them!
Looking east toward the main milling site for the Fortuna Mine. The main shaft was covered over long ago and was just to the right of the milling site up on the hill shown here. Their secondary shaft (still open) is behind this hill and is fenced off for safety reasons. Although most people think this was the biggest mining operation with the majority of claims, it was not. Keep reading.
While your here, you should really drive or hike up to the milling site. You'll get an idea of how vast this mine was. It was worked back in the early 1900's and then off and on till 1942 when the military took over this section in the desert and closed all the mines. The mine was not producing anything at the time it was shut down by the military. Read below.
Another view of the mill site on the hill. The miners here were following a quartz vein down into the ground. The vein had a large percentage of gold associated with it. It stopped abruptly at a slip fault. When this happens they usally keep digging in different directions to find where the vein moved to. In this case they never found it. Apparently this fault has moved a considerable distance making locating it impossible.
Looking west from the mill site you can see vast areas of light gray to white material on the ground. These are the tailings, crushed quartz ground into a fine powder. This particular area of the Gila Mountains are full of quartz veins. However very few of them carry gold to any degree, and thus aren't workable. This small area was rich in gold ore, and produced a huge amount of gold back in it's hay day.
Linda is on the west side of the mill site hill now. The foundation shown here was for a winch that lowered miners down into a shaft. This area was accessible by vehicle at the time these photos were taken. The military has closed access to many areas on the Barry Goldwater Bombing Range, your map will tell you if the road to the back of the mine is still open. Keep it with you as they do have rangers patrolling the range.
One of the two producing shafts on the Mutt Claim. Nobody has heard of this group of claims in this area. They are real and they did produce a lot of gold. They also kept the Fortuna Mine officers from extending their own claims to the south. There are actually more claims here belonging to Mr. Mutt then there were at the Fortuna Mine. The rich 6 inch wide vein Mutt was following is visible here.
None of these shafts or tunnels can be worked today even if you found a fortune in them. The military stopped the mining and there is no way to continue. All the claims in the Bombing range are now invalid and basically worthless. Knowing the location of the above shaft is worthless information at this point and time. It's interesting to note however that Mr. Mutt worked his claims only in the winter and died before he could return on his last year. His tools are said to still be at the bottom of the shaft.
Here's a mine inspector looking for rotting supports in a mine tunnel? Not really, this is a friend who went down with us to find the Mutt Claims. We did find them. Before we were given this informtion by a relative of Mr. Mutt we had always thought the shafts we found there were part of the Fotuna Mine. However we're priviledged to have copies of the Mutt claim topos and drawings. We were asked not to show them here.
Here you see a road going up a hill, and if you look closely on the right side of the hill you'll see what appears to be a building or foundation for a rather large building built right into the side of the hill. You should investigate this yourself. You can drive to the top of the road. The mine tunnel pictured above is part way up that road to the saddle between the two hills.
A closer look from the road at the saddle between the hills. You can see the walk path up to the foundation. It must have taken a considerable amount of time to cut those large blocks of stone and fit them into place to make such a large structure. If you look closely you can see Linda standing to the left of the building wearing a white blouse. Surprise, this was a water storage tank lined with cement and originally piped down to the mine. See the photo below.
Looking back toward the mine and the milling site from the saddle up at the water storage building. You can see why they chose this spot to get a good flow of water to the mine.
On the main road coming into the mine are old stone foundations. What purpose did they serve? Here you'll find a lot of artifacts. Old cans, bottles, tools, old car parts, etc. Along the hills on both sides are a lot of these old remnants of buildings. Maybe store rooms? More likely from the trash found here it was living quarters
Here's one of the better preserved walls of an old building. One thing you should look for -- old Spam cans. The ones you find here will have a circular metal seal on the top that has been soldered to seal the can. This is a sure sign of a can made back in the late 1920's to the early 1940's. This is the time period when they used to seal the cans with a soldered seal.
This is the type of building they used back then to store either the dynamite or blasting caps for the mine. This building is right in amongst the buildings where the miners lived. It's the only concrete building there.
We found this pack filled with gallon water jugs and other sized water bottles. A sure sign that illegals use this as a main route into the US. You can see all the foot prints in the wash behind Linda.
Another sure sign of illegals traveling through this area are these Help Stations erected by the Border Patrol. There is one south of the mine and one just to the north of the Fortuna mine. They are solar powered and if you push the red button it tells you on the sign that it will take one hour for help to arrive. It also says that you cannot walk to safety from here. The sign is in English and Spanish.
This has been an interesting destination for off-roaders for years and some intersting finds can still be made. Check with the Military Base about roads and areas that are accessible.