We had purchased a complete set of Desert magazines from creative_wisdom through eBay and needed to pick them up in Jacumba. Jacumba is about 65 miles east of San Diego and just south of Interstate 8. Our plan was to pick up the magazines in the morning, and then have the afternoon to explore. This is an area with a tremendous history. Jacumba is a Kumeyaay word for "hut by the water." During the summer the Indians moved their camps from the shores of ancient Lake Cahuilla into the Jacumba Mountains. Old agave roasting pits can still be found. Table Mountain, a weathered remnant of a prehistoric volcano, was the home, gathering area, and ceremonial site for these Indians. There are over 200 prehistoric sites linked to the ancestors of today's Kumeyaay. More recent history is also present. In the mid 1800's the Overland Stage route passed through Mountain Springs and Jacumba on the way to San Diego. In 1912 the first road was constructed, and by 1916 the San Diego and Arizona Railway had completed its tortuous route through these rugged mountains. Jacumba and its hot springs later became a fashionable resort as it catered to the Hollywood movie stars.
Today, this historical, rugged and sensitive area was our goal. Just east of Jacumba is an old mining road that passes under Interstate 8 and provides access to the area around Table Mountain. Since time would be at a premium, we decided to explore three mines. The first would be the Mica Gem mill site. Although technically this wasn't the mine proper, the mill site is littered with mica "books" of muscovite mica that was, when processed into "isinglass," used in high temperature applications such as ovens and lanterns. The Little Randsburg would be the second stop. It produced tungsten and scheelite. Finally, we hoped to locate the Circle Group deposit of vermiculite. This is a shiny, green, fibrous mineral used as a soil additive. The site was originally an asbestos mine and we hoped to find evidence of that earlier time also. The real draw to this last site is the fact that there is supposed to be "an ornate stone cabin with a corrugated iron roof" in the area. So hold on tight! This is going to be an adventure up some muddy roads to an incredibly scenic and incredibly rocky area! Click on the link below to check it out.