Rodman Mountains Exploration
Saturday, February 20, 2016
By: Nelson Miller
This Saturday was overcrowded with trips and activities, with a Museum trip, another DE trip by Bill Gossett, and construction of another water guzzler at 29 Palms by the Sheep Society with Steve Marschke. So only six people: Jerry and Dolly Dupree, Bob Jacoby, Nan Savage Healy, Barbara Midlikowski, and Nelson Miller set out to explore the Rodman Mountains. Before we left the Museum we had a nice visit with the folks going on the Museum trip lead by Richard Shappell. Cliff Walker provided us some refreshments.
As we started into the Rodman Mountains we crossed over a lava flow that originated from the volcano on the other side of the mountains, by the Rodman Mountain petroglyphs. This lava flow stretches 8.5 miles and is about 20,000 years old. We crossed the lava flow and turned up into a box canyon formed by the lava flow, which is a branch of the Grand Canyon of the Rodmans. You can see where the lava flowed over the underlying rock formations. After the box canyon we continued on to Kane Springs, which still flows into two troughs. However, we did not see any sign of big horn sheep. Just north of Kane Springs is a little mill site with the remains of a double arrastre. However, this probably dates from the early 1900’s as it was apparently driven by a motor.
From Kane Springs we crossed the pipeline road and headed up a pretty canyon that lead us to a mine with about a 200-foot long tunnel and a small rock house and with considerable rock walls built in the area. Continuing up the canyon we topped out at a saddle that gave us a nice view of the snow–capped San Bernardino Mountains.
We drove along Camp Rock Road and around the corner to approach the still active cinder mine at the volcano where the lava flow originated. Driving on, past the mine we came to the Rodman Mountain petroglyphs, but since we had all visited them before, we focused on the cliff face along the road before entering the canyon and found a number of nice petroglyphs, mostly of geometric design.
The route then took us out to the powerline road and around to the east end of Rodman Mountains where we followed the last canyon to the north to explore the Silver Cliffs and Silver Bell Mine. On the way we passed a rock shelter built on the side of the canyon. The Museum has an ore bucket from the Silver Cliffs mine, where there are a couple of 200-foot deep, vertical shafts right next to a rather large mill site. Unfortunately, all that is left are foundations and the open shafts, as well as some foundations of a couple of buildings which may have been a bunkhouse and mine office. Pat Schoffstall reports in the Mojave Desert Dictionary, that this mine was owned by a Mr. Legg in 1908. The ruins appear to be consistent with that time period. The Silver Bell Mine is about two miles west of the Silver Cliffs Mine and appears to be a similar, although perhaps more recent and a somewhat smaller operation, also with a small mill site, some rock foundations, and a rusted car.
We headed back toward the freeway, where we had exited, at Fort Cady Road. The weather had cooperated wonderfully and we had a beautiful trip through an interesting, but often overlooked area.