Friday, February 27, 2015

RonnieAdventure #0141 - "Old Ivanpah" (Ghost Town), San Bernardino County,California

Finding old ghost towns in the desert is typically not an easy task because the desert reclaims the land fairly quickly; so, I was really surprised when I found "Old" Ivanpah on the first try. ("Old" Ivanpah is sometimes called Ivanpah I because there is also a "New" Ivanpah ghost town, which is sometimes called Ivanpah II - See RonnieAdventure #0049, April 5, 2013.)

I did not have GPS coordinates for "Old" Ivanpah, but I did cheat a little because I looked at the site on Google Earth before I left home. Actually, because I have such a short memory I printed a picture of the area that helped me weave my way through the maze of old trails and roads around the "Old" Ivanpah site. 

The townsite of "Old" Ivanpah was laid out in a "Y" shape with some of the buildings located on each "arm" of the "Y" and a mountain between the "arms." There is also at least one building site and a water tank on the stem of the "Y." I found the water tank, which is still in use today, but I missed the building ruins.

At the junction of the "arms," I first tried the "left arm" of the "Y" and drove as far as I could before the arroyo became too narrow and rough to go any farther. After hiking up the arroyo a short distance I found the old spring with its enlarged opening and a nearby vertical mine shaft, but I located only one building foundation. I knew that there were other building foundations in the area so I climbed a nearby hill for a better view of the area and much to my surprise, less than 100 feet from where I parked my vehicle were two partial buildings and another vertical mine shaft. There were also several other building foundations and lots of mining debris in the area.  

Once back in the vehicle, we retraced our path back to the junction of the two "arms" of the "Y" and found a large tank, a loading chute, an old mill site foundation and other historic artifacts lying around the ground. Historical documents indicate that there were two mill sites in Ivanpah - a five-stamp mill and a 10-stamp mill. This was apparently the location of the ten-stamp mill because there was a multi-tiered, foundation and lots of steel embedded in the ground.  

Traveling up the right "arm" of the "Y," we discovered the site of what was apparently the 5-stamp mill location and a number of buildings remnants that were adjacent to the trail that we were following. The rock steps were still in place so that you could walk up the top of the mill foundation. Just to verify that we were at the correct location, I climbed another hill to view the surrounding area and I could see that there were no other obvious building locations. 


Historical documents indicate that "Old" Ivanpah was founded in 1869 and occupied for about 30 years. There were reported to be in "Old" Ivanpah a number of "neat and comfortable" houses, two hotels, two stores, two saloons, two blacksmith shops, two shoemakers' shops, two hay yards, a butcher shop, a post office, and the office headquarters for Piute Mining Company. The Green-Eyed Monster newspaper was founded in 1880, but went out of business after a few issues. By 1899 the post office had closed and most of the miners had moved on to more prosperous areas. 

Today, "Old" Ivanpah waits for the desert to reclaim the land. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

RonnieAdventure #0140 - Colosseum Mine, San Bernardino County, California

(Source: Google Earth)

"The Colosseum" is a 284-acre open-pit gold and Silver mine in the Mojave Desert that is located within the old Clark Mountain Mining District. Mining has been prevalent in the Clark Mountain area since the 1860s, but open-pit production at The Colosseum was fairly recent and ran from 1988 until July 10, 1992, with milling operations continuing until May 1993. There are two patented mining claims in the main pit, but the remainder of the disturbed area consists of unpatented mining claims on Federal land. 

Construction of the ore processing mill started in 1987 and had a peak employment of 300 people. During the mine operating period, the open pit was mined 9 hours per day, 5 days per week, but the mill ran seven days a week, 24 hours per day.  When the mine was in operation, the average employment was approximately 110 people. 

In 1990 test borings indicated total reserves of 3.9 million tons of ore, with an average grade of 0.040 troy ounces of gold per ton. In the first 2.5 years of operation, the mine produced 170,000 troy ounces of gold. (At today's prices, that equates to about $255,000,000.)

A 1992 EPA report indicates that the mill used a cyanide leaching process, which unfortunately left some nasty residuals that are now leaching out of the mine tailings. A series of plastic-lined holding dams have been constructed at the base of the tailings to contain hazardous materials.  

All of the buildings have been removed from the mine site and there are no plans to ever reopen the mine.  

 (Picture by Kolohe)

(Picture by Kolohe)

Friday, February 13, 2015

RonnieAdventure #0139 - The "Extraterrestrial Highway," Lincoln County, Nevada

Traveling westward on the “Extraterrestrial Highway” was a nice, quiet trip with almost no other traffic in either direction. The pavement was in good condition and the road ran in a straight line for miles-and-miles. This is open range country, so we saw range cattle along the road and a few large birds flying overhead. With the exception of some Joshua Trees in various locations along the road, the area is similar to other northern Nevada locations.

After about 40 miles we came to the small community of Rachel, which consists of a few mobile homes, a bar/restaurant, and the Little A’Le’Inn. The bar is famous and has been featured in a number of movies, but I can’t say the same for the Inn. (Just outside of the bar is a time capsule that was encapsulated to commemorate filming of the movie Independence Day.) 

Even though they did not have valet parking, there was a nice welcome mat at the front door of the bar and a large locator beacon in the front yard that was so bright you could not look directly at the structure. They also had some fossils on display that were discovered just a few miles down the road.

The area around Rachel is restricted air space because the community of Rachel is located just north of the Federal Government's Top Secret facility known as Area 51. (Until 2013 the US Government denied that there was such a facility named Area 51, but then the Russians published satellite photographs of the facility which proved otherwise.) 

(Source: Google Earth)

There have been a number of plane crashes in this area, including a military F-16 that crashed less than 100 feet from one of the mobile homes in Rachel. There is some speculation that some of the sophisticated equipment used at Area 51 has something to do with the crashes. 

Just before we arrived, a small craft crashed outside of Rachel and the tow truck had just carried the wreckage back to town for repairs. The pilot and his family were in the bar/restaurant, but they were not very talkative. I think they were still in shock because they just kept standing against the wall staring at the floor. One of the older individuals that had been on the craft just kept standing at the window looking for someone or something. Apparently, they were on their way home from a family reunion in Wyoming when they crash landed. 

Anyway, we had an uneventful day in Rachel and on the way home we were treated to beautiful golden sunset that was highlighted with some large birds that followed us for a number of miles.