The Golden Cycle Group, or the Great Gold Belt as it is also called, is a collection of mine and mill ruins that now sits in a pocket of BLM land that is partially surrounded by a wilderness area. There's only one open route into the area and it will rattle your bones and give your suspension a good workout. The draw here is history, or rather prehistoric history! When the first miners came into this area they were amazed to find that the thin gold veins had already been worked. In fact, they found the remains of ancient arrastras and surmised that Indians and/or Spanish miners had been the first to feel the excitement of the dull gleam of gold. The remains of these first arrastras, reported to have been located in a wash, have apparently been swept away by the passage of both water and time. What we're looking for are the remains of the subsequent mining operations. Vredenburgh, in his book Desert Fever, recounts that the rediscovery of these old workings took place in 1907. By 1910 the newly developed mining company had located and developed a water source and by 1911 had a mill working to process the ore. It's evidence of these workings that we hope to find today. Supposedly, a force of from 25 to 100 men worked at that location until around 1914 when the operation was shut down. In addition to this early activity, there should also be evidence of the last flurry of mining which took place there from 1923 to 1930. During this period the name was changed to the Camp Castle Mine and a larger and more modern mill was installed.
Not knowing what will turn up always makes a trip exciting. So it's with a feeling of hopeful expectation that we've set off this morning along a deteriorating two track edged with flowering creosote bushes and topped by a dome of clear blue sky edged with cotton-ball clouds. Howard Brown, geologist extraordinaire, who you might remember from the Mailbox Cabin to the White Cap Quarry trip, will be joining us again today. If you'd like to join us in our quest to locate and explore the remains of this old mining site, then slap some long travel shocks on that recliner and click on the photo link below!