Sunday, March 22, 2020

Tonopah-Belmont Mine - Social Distancing - March 22, 2020

Belmont Mountain

So we decided it was time to get the kids out of the house.  They've been practicing social distancing and online school for a week, and they are going stir crazy!  So we decided to head out towards Tonopah and see what we could find.  It was a beautifully overcast day and nice and cool!

Our first stop was an attempt at the Aguila crystal fields.  Too much mud - we've had so much rain that everything is very green, and very muddy.  We were in my FJ, so we decided not to chance it and wait until things dry out before we go up there again.

We then decided to go to one of Bailey and my favorite haunts - the Tonopah-Belmont Mine.  Bales and I have been here several times - we love coming at dusk to watch the bats leave the cave - but today we got there earlier, and we just explored.  

Mill workings below one of the horizontal shafts
The Tonopah-Belmont mine is a former silver and lead mine where workings began around 1860.  No claims were official filed, however, until after World War I.  The Belmont Mine has a 600 foot shaft with workings at 100', 250' and 400'.  Each level had a 400 foot horizontal shaft.  The mine ceased working after the Great Depression, and remained open for explorers until 1990.  At that time, a man who entered the mine fell 350 feet to his death.  The Arizona Department of Mines & Mineral Resources then placed steel grates across all the entrances.  Unfortunately, in 2002, another man pried open the steel grates and fell to his death as well.  In all the years the Belmont Mine worked as a mine, they never had a single death.  Many mines around Belmont have been filled by the Dept of Mines & Mineral Resources due to careless and unwary explorers.    

Belmont Dynamite Shed
As we bounced down the road from Vulture Mine, we passed lots of other families just trying to get out - everyone keeping their distance, but enjoying being outside.  We passed the old Dynamite Shed (shown here from above), and rounded around to the parking area beneath the old building foundations.  

We parked the truck and jumped out for some lunch.  The adults and the kids all downed some Gatorade, ate some veggies, and decide to hike up to the horizontal shaft (you cannot drive up there - it's blocked off).  As we hiked up there, the kids took off ahead and Paul and I sauntered up enjoying the view and talking about the trail and all the other mines in the area.  I've been here many times, and have spent a great deal of time exploring the area on quads.  I've seen many open mines around the area - I know there are plenty still out there.  We didn't, however, run in to any today!

The kids found the horizontal shaft and waited for us to arrive so we could all go in and take a look.  About 20 feet inside the shaft is a huge steel grate - and just beyond that you can see holes in the floor of the shaft.

Bailey at an upper vertical shaft
Bailey and Paul coming
back down
We came out and I pointed out the upper vertical shaft that has been fenced off.  This shaft is a serious scramble up the side of Belmont Mountain, and Bailey and Paul decided they were going to do it!  So like a couple of mountain goats, up they went.  

And then they had to scramble back down again.  They decided to take a different path down.  Watching them go up, then back down again, I was so glad I didn't go up (I've been up there before).  

We left the mine area, and went back down to let the kids go up to the old building foundations.  Bailey always remembers this area fondly because we found an old railroad spike here once.  And some square nails.  But nothing was found today - although they searched.  

Mill ruins from the road below
Then it was back in the truck and start the drive home - we headed out to the South - towards I-10.  It's an easy ride - easier than the road in from Vulture Mine.  We saw lots of things we were interested in exploring, but we will save those for a later time.

Stay safe my exploring friends - wash your hands - and stay socially distant.  These are stressful and strange times.  But we don't have to be stressed or strange - for some of us - this makes for glorious outings!

Leaving the Big Horn Mountain Range

No comments:

Post a Comment