In The Desert
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Red Cloud Mine
Trigo Mountains, Arizona
This mine has been here in the desert for a long time. The Red Cloud Mine is only one of several places in the world that produces gem quality Wulfenite. The Red Cloud Mine Road (shown here) is not a bad road and is passable MOST of the time by 2 wheel drive vehicles. The first part of the trip takes you right past the Painted Desert in the Imperial Wildlife Refuge. They have a nice short hiking trail that's worth seeing. The hills here are very colorful and there's a lot of wildlife so stay alert.
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One of the many Wulfenite mines along the way. This one is just a short distance before you get to the Red Cloud mine. Be careful in these old mines -- we don't recommend you enter any of them. We did find some nice sample specimens in the tailings pile here.
This is really interesting! I don't remember who told us this, but upon further inspection on our part we found their story to be true. These holes along the wash banks (there is quite a few of them) were miners homes back when the mine was going gang busters. You can see the chimney pipe stuck up out of the ceiling of the tunnel for the stove. Old artifacts were found here also.
Looking at the main buildings and water tower for the Red Cloud Mine. On the left side is the main tailings pile. This is a patented mining claim so it's just like owned property, so respect their privacy and rights.
Looking at it from a different angle you can see the main mine shaft head frame. There is also a very large open pit with a lot of tunnels entering the pit. The mountain behind the building is also full of mine shafts. This is all private property! Last time we were there, they were working the mine. Altogether there is 16 claims involving this mine and they are spread out in different areas.
This is what they were looking for. Only they were looking for bigger crystals. However this is a nice specimen and gives you a good idea of what to look for. This specimen was given to us by the old caretaker right before he died on the job at the mine site. He was an older gentleman and very nice. He lived there alone with his dog. Shame, his body wasn't found for weeks after his death.
Make the women work too! They're breaking up rock and panning the small amount of gold we got here. We wish! We did get a little color out of one mines, and it was a fun day. We also found quite a few nice small specimens of Wulfenite. We were outside of the claims.
Here's me and friend checking the wall of a mine shaft. We had to wear something over our mouth and nose because of all the bat guano (dust) on the floor of the mine shaft. Interesting area. There are a lot of old mines in the area; to enter them is dangerous, unless you have a good knowledge of mining and know what to look for. If you're not sure then stick to the tailings piles outside.
Here's another mine we went into. There were a lot of side tunnels and shafts and the mineral content was varied. In this mine we did find a nice pocket of gold in the ceiling. We were surprised that no one noticed it before. Here are two friends down in a shaft headed into one of the tunnels. Having a good light is a necessity.
This is one of the mine shafts on the Red Cloud Mine property. When we were there 5 years ago; we ran into a caretaker (a younger guy) working in this shaft and he had quite a collection of specimens of Wulfenite. This shaft is about 60 ft. deep and branches off into several tunnels.
Just North of the Red Cloud Mine you'll find several abandoned mines. Some of them may be claimed and people may be working on them so check first. This is an old winch for the Dives Mine. The mine has several different levels and it may no longer be possible to get to all the levels in the mine. There used to be ladders down to the different levels.
The road continues North and if you keep going you can go all the way to Blythe, Ca. This used to be the main miners road from Yuma up along the Colorado River. In places it gets really rough just above out final destination -- The Silver Clip Mine. We made the trip up to Cibola Lake on this road and it was a challenge, especially at a section called the Waterfall. And that what it is and you have to drive down it to keep going.
Silver Clip Mine
This was an old Silver mine and it was quite extensive. Shafts and tunnels all over and a lot of the old foundations still remaining. One word of caution here -- there are many old roads in the area; some of them go back to the Dives Mine via the back route, and they are for serious 4 wheel drive people only! High clearance is a necessity and an ability to handle bad situations is a must.
This is an old wood stove laying next to the walls of the old powder room. That is the place where they kept the dynamite and caps (we found a bunch of old blasting caps here). A lot of old relics still can be found here This mine is not well known although people do venture out here now and again.
This is part of the old mining foundations. In the beginning they worked all the ore right here, and this is what's left of the old milling machines. Also found here is what's left of the wooden water tanks (15 ft. across) with steel straps around the tops of them. As the mine grew it became clear that it was too much trouble hauling water to the operation; so they built a mill next to the Colorado River about 8 miles North of the mine; near Cibola Lake. To get there they had navigate that horrible section of road I explained above.
This is a look at the main; and original mine shafts. There is more than one shaft here. There is also a least 20 tunnels running off of this big hole. This hole is not visible from the mine but is only a short distance up the mountain from where the old mine buildings are located. There is a road up here, but it's washed out -- we made it; but it's not for the un-experienced or faint hearted.
Believe it or not there is an abundance of silver ore samples laying around. I'm guessing that this old mine was large producer of silver back in it's day. This sample specimen we found was too big to lift, even with the help of friends. The reason I took this macro shot of it is because of the square crystals in the rock. Very unusual to say the least. This was the only sample we found up there that looked like that. Most of the samples we found (and like the lower portion of this rock were almost black -- tarnished silver. We also found several short shafts up here that had been lived in. They were just adjacent to the mine area.
This is an inter-active Maps.google Map. You can zoom in / out and change the format to Street Map, Terrain, or Earth; drag the map to scroll.
In the bottom center of the map where all the roads come together is the location of the Red Cloud Mine.
If you continue up the Red Cloud Mine road toward Cibola Lake then east on to Rt. 95, be prepared for rough terrain just above the Silver Clip Mine and also be prepared to turn this into an 11 hour round trip adventure.
Have fun ---------