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Lost Mine - Mystery

Lamp Shade Lady Mine

   This story was told to us by a now deceased miner who worked at the Kokoweef Mine near Mountain Pass, Ca. This is near the big mine in the desert called the Molycorp Minerals where they mine rare earth minerals. It is in fact one of the only mines in the Western Hemisphere that can produce these rare earth minerals that are used in tv's, hybrid  vehicles and military electrical devices. Right now we are dependent on China for their production of rare earth minerals, and Molycorp is planning on returning to full production soon. This whole area is highly mineralized.      Joe Kelly told me this story -- here's how it went.

   "Joe" While prospecting and traveling in the mountains near the Kokoweef Mine I ran across this long tunnel back into the mountain. It was tall enough to stand up in and walk upright. It was a long tunnel though and took a while to get to the back of it. There was an old railroad track laid in the tunnel. There was one main tunnel and that was the one I followed. When I finally got to the back of the tunnel there was a large stope (miners term for a large room at the end of the tunnel) where there was at least 300 - 55 gal drums. All of them had lids with a seal ring which I took off of several of them. I was really surprised to see that they mostly held lamp shade parts! Now Joe never elaborated any more on what was in them except to say that there was some clothes in them also; but mostly lamp shade parts and complete lamp shades.
   He also gave us very brief directions to get us to the mine. We went and looked for the mine and never found it. While doing research on the Kokoweef mine story I was fortunate enough to get a hold of Ralph Lewis, and Ralph as it turns out, was the original locator of the Lamp Shade Lady Mine. The name has a kind or ring to it so we decided to keep it. We met up with Ralph and he rode with us and gave us directions to the mine. So here we go to solve an old mystery -- HOW, WHY, AND WHEN?  Wouldn't you be curious if it really was as described?

Outside the Mine

Dynamite Shack
Mine Shack
Mine Shaft
Mine Explorers

Inside the Mine

Mine Tunnel Collapse
5 Gal Buckets
Lamp Shades in Mine
55 Galon Barrels
Lamp Shade Parts
Lamp Shade Parts
Gray Fox
Seth Jones
Mine Tunnel

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   Getting to the mine was fairly easy if you know how. The first thing we noticed was this old dynamite shack built into the ground and piled up on top was a lot of dirt and rocks. The interior was too low to stand in. It reminded me of a bunker -- which it was but just for the safe storage of explosives.
   Standing right in front of the mine you can see this shack which was probably to house their blasting caps which they usually kept separated from their dynamite. Interesting the way they built these little shacks and what they used them for.
   There was a deep vertical shaft on a tailings pile above the mine. At one time this was all timbered with supports. It has been completely burned out. This shaft goes straight down and intersects the tunnel we'll be going into. We haven't been able to substantiate this, but rumor has it that the Sheriff removed a body from the mine. Maybe the fire was to destroy evidence?
   Here we are ready to head into the LONG tunnel. Ralph has a 15 million candlepower light - can you see it?  Linda was to stay outside just in case we got in trouble and needed someone to go for help. Now after the fact, I wish she'd gone into the mine with us, for 2 reasons -- keep reading. Left to right. --  Ralph -- Charlie -- Don
   After a short 100 ft. walk from the entrance -- over some boards covering a shaft! -- we came to this section that must have collapsed. Good sign? But Ralph went on to explore up farther. We had to crawl (or stoop) under that angled support to keep going.
   There was load of 5 gal. buckets - our guess was that someone had plans to remove a lot of stuff from the back of the tunnel, but didn't do it. This is the first reason I wished Linda had come in with us (not to see the buckets)! Right here, just past where the vertical shaft met this tunnel the temperature in the tunnel soared. Outside it was 50 deg. and just past the shaft it jumped to at least 80 deg. or more. Really strange. We were sweating; Charlie said he wished he hadn't worn his coat.

   As you can see - at one time they had an ore car track laid in the tunnel. Now as we continued into the tunnel it kept getting warmer. I was kidding and told them that pretty soon we should be at the opening to the volcano. This tunnel just seemed to keep going and going.

   Here's one of the long stretches with Ralph in the lead with his big light. He said this was all solid limestone and of course not being a miner that didn't make me feel safe -- but what did make me feel safe was knowing that he knew. If we'd been on our own, we'd have never come this far.
   Apparently some of the mine ceiling wasn't stable. But the supports looked good. This sure was a long tunnel. I was beginning to wonder if maybe the 55 gal. drums were all gone?
   Finally; we got to the first part of the mystery. This area was a mess and of course others have been in the barrels. Looking for what? Maybe the same thing we were - the answer to the mystery - why would someone put them in here off the beaten track? As you'll see this was a lot of work -- and for what?
   Ralph went farther back and brought out these two items; one a complete lampshade, and a lampshade frame. The mystery gets deeper. We're still not to the main horde, that is where it started to get interesting.
   There was another pile of junk next to some hardboard barrels. Although this was quite a pile it didn't look especially interesting. so we kept going. There was one thing here that I should have taken -- an old tape recorder with a tape  still in it. Maybe it would have revealed some answers.
   This is what the last 60 ft. or so of the tunnel looked like. Barrels stacked upon each other and this made it hard to maneuver or even keep going. You can see (Ralph is a thin person) how tight it was in there. And the number of barrels is just overwhelming. This was truly a lot of work getting them in here.
  And here is the reason for the moniker given to the mine. Now it's real name will remain anonymous for now. We'd like to see it remain intact, even though it's already been ransacked. So here's the big mystery -- why would a person or persons put all those lamp shade parts in the back of this tunnel. Of course there was at one time a lot of clothes, and other belongings in here in the barrels too. We did come up with one name while in there (see below) but it's too common of a name. It almost looks like a lamp shade factory stored this here?  Any one have any information or clues to help with this mystery
                  Please  E-MAIL me.
   As it turns out we were just intruders! Ralph yelled we've got an animal here in the very back of the tunnel behind some barrels. He wasn't sure what it was but it was headed our way! So we squeezed up against the barrels to give him some room to get by. Always have your camera ready! Chance encounters like this are a perfect example. This is the second reason I wish Linda had come into the mine!
  See an ENLARGEMENT  of the Gray Fox 
   On the way back out several of the side tunnels got explored; only to no avail. This one did several buckets of with cartons of milk and juice in them, almost like someone was temporarily living here. This was right next to the vertical shaft in the mine.
   The guys went thru some of the papers found in the mine looking for a reason, name, address, or anything that could tell us the prupose behind storing all those barrels here. They are sitting right next to the verticle shaft shown on the surface in the beginning of the story. It continued down past this level for quite a distance.
   This may or may not have any bearing on this mystery. The Name is Seth Jones and this was what looked like a lesson paper for working with decimels. It was dated 1982. Now this could have showed up later or it may have been part of the original mystery.
Information?  Please   E-MAIL  us.
   For anyone who's never gone into a mine like this. It's really dark! Photo taken as we were approaching the mine entrance just to show how dark it really was. We had a total of 8 lights with us and a lot of extra batteries just in case we were forced to spend some time in there. Thanks to the other two guys this was almost like a walk in the park, but if your unsure and don't have the help of experienced people, then it's probably a good idea to stay clear of mine tunnels like this.
   Linda and I would like to thank Ralph and Charlie for making this possible. They're both experienced at this kind of exploration and Ralph knew about the mine and how to get there. Both were nice enough to come along with us and make it a very rewarding trip. We had long conversations with them about things that go on in the desert that are mutually interesting to all of us. Great Guys.
   Now as you can tell the original story we heard doesn't match what we found - there was no stope and the numbers of barrels was slightly exaggerated. Or was it? There was one other tunnel (and maybe more) off the vertical shaft that might have been accessible before the fire burned out the timbers. So maybe there's more to be seen?
Desert Photo
New Evidence found!
Easter Card
Pearl Sindelar
   Nevada Charlie found this Easter Card on our trip to the Lamp Shade Lady Mine and offered it up for another clue to the mystery. Now the card itself is pretty un-important but the copyright a the bottom right is something! Seems normal enough until you look into the name - (see the enlargement below) and do a little research into the name Pearl Sindelar. Who was she? Well Nevada Charlie found a good lead there. She apparently was a silver screen actress back in the early 1900's. Now this doesn't date the mine or the barrels but it does tell us that it may be older than we thought. Now what I would really like to know; there has to be someone out there that can date this for us and help with the mystery. How long ago did they make 55 gallon drums like the ones pictured above? They had steel snap closed straps the held the lids on -- does this help? 

<--- Enlargement of the above copyright.

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Anyone that has any information on the barrels or the actress mentioned here -- please don't hesitate to
E-mail us.

Update - 1 / 17 / 2014

UPDATE - See below

   A gentleman named Paul Waterman contacted me a month ago and was interested is seeing this mine for himself. After talking to Paul for a short time thru several emails I decided it would be okay to tell him where this mine was located and supply a map. The name of this mine according to a mine locations map is the "Budget Mine".  Which you should be able to find on the above linked mining map. Paul sent us photos of the what California did to close the mine. This was probably closed for two reasons. One there was a body found in the vertical shaft, and two they are closing a lot of mines because of the ailment that bats are likely to get because of people spreading the ailment by walking into the mines. Thanks for the photos Paul.
   These closures are becoming a normal thing in a lot of states in the desert southwest. This ailment was discovered in mines/caves on the East Coast.

Sign from a mine in Arizona