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2020 - Trip Report - Pandemic Break

Pandemic Break

By Bob Jaussaud

Recently a small group of Desert Explorers decided to take a pandemic break. We observed the Covid-19 guidelines and kept our participant number low. We headed into Gold Butte National Monument and worked our way south to what remains of the Lakeside Mine: four cabins, an outhouse and some rusting mining equipment. This copper mine worked from about 1937 until the last ore shipment sometime in the mid-1950s. It’s at the end of a rough road with spectacular views of Lake Mead.

We camped our first night at what remains of the town, Gold Butte. Gold was discovered in Gold Butte in 1905 and a tent city quickly sprang up. Supplies were hauled by wagon from St. Thomas on the Virgin River. At its peak, Gold Butte had about 2,000 residents, a post office, a store, a saloon and a brothel, but by 1910 the boom was over and the town almost disappeared.Only a miner (Art Coleman) and a cowboy (Bill Garrett) remained. They stayed for 40 years and their graves are still there along with a few remnants from the past.

The next morning we headed down Grand Wash. Off the road to our left we saw the sad ruins of Seven Springs Ranch. It was evidently occupied until 2019 and has been the site of recent BLM burro roundups.

Our lunch stop was at Tassi Ranch. It was and still is an oasis in the desert. Ed Yates built his home there in the 1930s and stayed until 1947. What remains of his ranch house still reflects his artistry and love. On the hillside above we found a flowing stream. What a beautiful spot! Even so, it was hard to imagine living there in solitude for over 18 years.

From Tassi Ranch we worked our way to the top of the plateau via the Nutter Twist Road. This shelf road was a challenge, even for our well equipped vehicles, but we managed to make it.Then we inched our way through a cattle roundup in Hidden Valley and ended our day camped high amid the pines and unexpected frost that night.

The morning sun was very welcome as we broke camp and headed for Mt. Dellenbaugh. Our goal was to hike to the peak and find the inscription left by William Dunn, one of the three men who left the Powell Expedition to climb out of the Grand Canyon and disappear. We made it to the top, but became separated. Attempting to regroup, most everyone missed seeing Dunn’s inscription. The view from the peak is well worth the climb, though.

For our last night we descended through Coyote Canyon to camp lower and warmer at the Grand Gulch Mine in the Parashant National Monument. NPS claimed on their interpretive sign that this mine had the “richest copper ore ever produced in the Arizona Territory.” Even so, it was not very profitable because of transportation costs. Ore was hauled by horse and wagon to Salt Lake City during World War I but the mine was shut down at the end of the war. It was reopened to supply copper for World War II and they used heavy gasoline powered Euclid trucks to haul the ore out. Mining continued until 1955 when the main buildings burned down.

On this adventure there were some challenging roads and scary situations but we prevailed without incident and were rewarded with delicious camp meals thanks to Ron, Mignon and Sue.

~ Bob