Intaglios, Petroglyphs and Coolgardie Mining District
Saturday, June 6
Leader: Nelson Miller
Once again Pat Schoffstall generously opened the Mojave River Valley Museum in Barstow for us as we gathered for our trip on June 6. Ten of us set off, including, Daniel Dick and Bobbie Sanchez, Fredrick Raab, Richard and Jo Pope, Peter and Janet Austin, Mal Roode, and Bernard Masson, who joined us from Meuse, France. Apparently Bernard overheard Allan Wicker and Janet Austin discussing our trips when Janet was conducting a tour at the Homestead Museum in the City of Industry, and was very interested. Janet invited him along. Mal Roode agreed to be sweep and as usual did an excellent job.
We took Highway 58 to Hinkley Road and north on Hinkley Road toward Opal Mountain. The saga told in the film Erin Brockovich regarding the contamination of the local aquifer continues and Hinkley is increasingly abandoned. The elementary school closed last year and the market and gas station closed this Spring. There are fewer and fewer people living in Hinkley, such that is almost deserted.
We first stopped at Opal Mountain Spring which was as constructed like a guzzler for small animals, but was bone dry. We also took a look at one of the over 2800 automated environmental monitoring stations in the western United States. You can download the daily, hourly data from these stations at http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/wrh/faq/mesowestfaq.php.
We moved on to take a look at another one of those mysterious sites described by Bill Mann, the Opal Mountain Circles. We searched for the small triangle he described, but instead found another circle, see photos. As Bill Mann indicates, these are different from “sleeping circles, somewhat larger and enclosed with rocks.
From these circles, we proceeded to Coyote Gulch, another site described by Bill Mann, with a number of very nice petroglyph panels as well as some historical initials from later periods. Coyote Gulch is on the far eastern edge of the Black Mountain area, where over 10,000 petroglyphs have been recorded.
Next stop was the main historical Coolgardie Mining Camp. The Coolgardie District was spread over several square miles. The miners primarily used dry-washing techniques to mine placer gold in this area with the primary activity from 1900 to 1910, however activity continues to this day and we saw a number of people dry washing claims while we drove through this area. Several buildings remain, which appear to date perhaps from the 1950’s. Around Coolgardie Camp are a large number of narrow, vertical shafts going down 75 to 100 feet, in most cases uncovered, or covered with plywood.
From Coolgardie Camp we headed for another Bill Mann site, which has a “Spanish-style double arrastra”. I suspect this dates from the Coolgardie era, but unfortunately it was filled with trash. I have seen a similar, although larger, double arrastra near Kane Springs in the Roman Mountains, south of Newberry Springs.
Continuing our exploration of the Coolgardie District we drove to Noble Well, where there was a windmill over a hand dug well, which still had water at the bottom, nearly 100 feet down. The windmill unfortunately has been pushed over, reportedly by persons scavenging the sheet metal? A half mile west of Noble Well is another strange site. It appears to be fairly modern efforts to recover the placer gold with a variety of large concrete pads and perhaps some sort of very large concrete pads which might have served as some type of washer.
We ended the day visiting the XB-Valkyrie crash site The Valkyrie was an experimental Mach 3 bomber which crashed here on