Our sandy campsite in the Algodones Dunes near Glamis was perfectly located for a day trip over to the Cargo Muchacho Mountains. These mountains are small and have a distinctive dark brown coloration. They stood out clearly against a blue February sky as we approached Gold Rock Ranch, a spot replete with local history and character. After checking out their extensive collection of desert memorabilia and rock samples, we headed up the road to our first mine, the Bluebird Kyanite Mine. This deposit of kyanite is spread around the locale of Vitrefax Hill. Kyanite is used in the manufacture of spark plugs, among other things. It is an attractive mineral with a near sapphire like blue color. We prowled around the area, which proved to be quite photogenic, and found several nice samples.
From that location it was a short drive to the American Girl Mine. This is an old gold mine that just keeps on going. Modern technology has dispensed with shafts and tunnels, and the whole area has been turned into a giant open pit strip mine. Still, it was an awesome sight to see. The old mines in the Cargo Muchachos date from around 1862. They had the reputation of being quite dangerous due to the deep shafts, around 1,000 feet, and the constant danger of cave-ins and fires. I guess it's a lot easier now. You just remove the whole mountain, crush it, and extract the ore. Somehow it just doesn't have the same romance as the old fashioned way!
Our last stop of the day was out on the Indian Pass road. This area has a sprinkling of petrified palm that has nice color to it. There are also deposits of dumortierite. We found a little of each, but it was the scenery that captured our fancy. The jagged peaks near Picacho and the distant Cargo Muchacho Mountains made a perfect backdrop to the rugged desert washes with their thorny inhabitants. We stayed in the area until sunset before we finally headed back to our campsite. If you click on the photo link below you can see some of the sights, too!