Joshua Tree National Park is dotted with the remains of many early 1900's mines and camps. Many of these, although mentioned in hiking guides, are far enough off the beaten path to still offer interesting glimpses into the indomitable spirit and resourcefulness of those miners. Today, even though it's January, the weather goddess has graced us with clear skies and spring-like temperatures in the 70's. This is the perfect day to explore four of these sites that we've been wanting to visit.
Our first hike will be to a site that has the most potential. It is, in fact, almost a lost mine in the sense that it's not mentioned in any of the guides. Although the name and operating dates of the mine are unknown, Greene, in her Historic Resource Study of Joshua Tree National Park, feels that from her on-site evaluation it dates from the late 1800's to about 1915. This makes it the oldest site that we'll visit today. She also feels, based on the remains of a labor intensive rock shored wagon road which turns into a similarly constructed pack trail, that this was a prosperous mine. Artifact remains, as well as a long tunnel and impressive tailings pile, all seem to convince her of the importance of this now forgotten spot. Obviously, we're anxious to check it out ourselves and find out what's left!
The next two spots that we'll visit, John's Camp and the Ming Mine, appear to have been active in the 1920's to 1930's. John's Camp, as the name implies, was a habitation site for prospectors and miners working the adjacent hills. The Ming Mine was the most prosperous of the nearby mines and is located within sight of the camp.
We've saved the puzzle for last. Although mention is made of this spot in one of the hiking guides, there are no clear cut directions. We've narrowed down the area, though, and hope that we'll be able to locate the remains of the old miner's cabin built up against a large boulder and the nearby skeleton of a model T pickup truck. This spot sounds quite interesting so we really hope that we'll have enough daylight to check it out.
Doesn't all this sound like fun? We've got our daypacks stocked with food and water, our camera batteries charged, and the beautiful scenery of Joshua Tree unfolding before us. Grab that mouse and click on the photo link below for your very own virtual tour!