Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mines of Central Utah and You, Part I

Well, it looks like someone else started to follow this blog while I was away. That means we are up to 24 people in total who follow this blog, only half of which are family members. Not bad. I'm guessing that means that some folks find some value in these oft ill-researched and poorly spelled posts. Either that or you are my enemy, and are searching these posts in hope that they will in some way reveal a weakness that you could exploit in order to destroy me. That seems the more likely scenario.

And where have I been? A journey of personal improvement? Far off lands filled with exotic treasures? A community college typing class? All possibilities. But my personal achievements and sizable collection of personal failures take a backseat to the mines of central Utah. That's what so great about life. No matter how many engineering exams you fail, you can always sit back and realize that they pale in importance compared to filthy holes dug in the middle of a sparsely-populated state by poorly-washed people who are now long dead and forgotten.

And so, with that introduction, let's look at some mines. Today's adventures take us all the way to Beaver (grow up) County Utah. You remember the ghost town of Frisco? What a post that was! Filled with inaccurate data and poorly shot photos, it really opened our eyes to my version of history. Well, these mines are kinda close to that place. But not really. They are here-ish.

There's not a whole lot out there. There's a town named Milford nearby, but it has always made me feel sad. Like a little puppy that was promised this great future, but then all the mines went out of business and now most of the puppy is empty and deserted. It's like a deserted puppy. I've never actually stopped to take a picture of Milford, so you are just going to have to imagine it. A quick Google search revealed this little factoid...

So, I guess to be accurate, it's a deserted puppy covered in white people. The surrounding landscape hasn't fared much better.

Look at that! So much open land! One day that will make a fine parking lot, or perhaps even a contaminated soil storage facility! Options abound. But this post isn't about Milford (which I actually like) or contaminated soil facilities (to which I am indifferent), it is about mines. There's a reason I've virtually dragged you all the way out here. The hills around Milford are pot-marked with mines! And while there are many mines (and therefore many mine districts) around Milford, I've decided to just focus on one district for now. No need to overdue it on your first Milford experience. You're young, and I've seen strong men piddle themselves at the mere concept of a mining district. Anyway, let's take a look at the Bradshaw Mining District.

The Bradshaw Mining District is one of the older districts in Utah. Older than most people. Well, I guess all people at this point. People born in 1875 are probably dead by now. Anyway, during the 1870's a lot of people loved Beaver County. Mining districts were all the rage, and all the cool kids had mining districts. They were the iphones of the coal era (until 1895, when they were unseated on the coolness scale by the early steam-powered iphones). The Bradshaw district is located on the southwestern slope of the beautiful Mineral Mountains.

For some reason this lady showed up when I googled Mineral Mountains. For some reason I feel compelled to include her.

I'm guessing that the Mineral Mountains were named after minerals were found there, but I don't know that for sure. And I'm not in the mood to research it at all, so yeah.

The Bradshaw District was named after a young gentleman named John Bradshaw. Mr. Bradshaw had a dream. A dream to be very very rich. A lot of people had this dream in fact, so Mr. Bradshaw was hardly alone. The problem was that Mr. Bradshaw was a pretty cruddy prospector, and had to give up on the mining game and become a shop-keep. Then one night in 1859, Mr. Bradshaw had a dream in the more literal sense.

In this dream, he saw a small cave located on the side of a mountain. Looking in, he found a rats nest filled with gold nuggets! This is far better than the usual things a person finds in a rats nest! The next morning John ran off to the nearby mountains and after a long day of searching he found the very cave in his dream. Looking in, he found a rats nest filled with gold nuggets! Real ones! Not the dream kind that so many of us have found! Further inside the cave he found stalactites covered with silver and gold! Remember, while messing around in rats nests worked out for John Bradshaw, it is probably still a good idea to avoid the temptation. Gold nuggets are probably not as common in a rats nest as the plague. Which is the opposite of gold. Anyway, this was the beginnings of the Cave Mine, of which we will hear more about later.

In honor of Mr. Bradshaw, the inevitable rush of prospectors created a little town at the mouth of the mine named Bradshaw City, as well as naming a spring after him. For all I know this could be Bradshaw Springs...

And none of you can prove to me that ISN'T Bradshaw Springs because I took such a horrible pictures, so I win.

Despite the account given above, most of the mines in this district featured veins on the order of 2 to 6 feet thick that contained our old friend Galena, which we've already covered in a well thought-out and colorfully illustrated post a few months back. In addition to ol' Gal, (which is what I'm calling Galena now), they found some copper and gold and other stuff like that. Prospectors love all those things.

Which isn't to say that if they wouldn't mind mining prostitutes if the opportunity presented itself. I just noticed that Mr. Prospector there is holding a piece. Huh. Sometimes prospectors would get in fights and kill each other. It's time I'm stopped shielding you from the ugly parts of the prospectors world. It wasn't all not-bathing and STD's. There were some bad aspects of being a prospector too.

So here we are, sitting in the middle of 1870 with a pick in our hands and the majestic hills of Beaver County at our backs. Where do we go? Well, we have a couple of options. The Cave Mine is the biggest producer, so we could probably go poke around there for a little while. Or we could go to the Summit Mine. I don't know where this mine is, but I'm guessing we would have to climb up to it, and I'm not willing to do that. Other options are the Houdoo, Cyprus, Sherman, or Triangle mines. I bet the Houdoo mine is haunted. Let's not go there.

To be honest, the only mine on that list I could find is the Cave Mine. And the only reason I could find it was because it's up on a hill with a bunch of rocks piled all over the place. It's like a chubby kid trying to hide behind a two-by-four, or perhaps like a plump turkey attempting to avoid the farmers axe by hiding behind an NRA pamphlet. It really stands out is what I'm saying here. See?

Whenever you see a pile of rocks like that, chances are you are in an area that is mine-rich. But just because you've found a pile of rocks that CAME from a mine, it doesn't mean that you are any closer to finding the mine itself. For example, this is all that remains of the entrance to the Cave Mine.

A few more years and nature will have reclaimed her own, and the Cave Mine will be nothing but a crappy blog post. Not a bad run actually. As mentioned above, the Cave Mine was first discovered in 1859 which predates the formation of the Bradshaw District by nearly 20 years. That means that this mine has been open for over 150 years. I doubt that any of us will have an opening that looks this good in 150 years, so who are we to judge?

In it's day, the Cave Mine was the largest producer in the area. This little hole spat out ore that was 27% lead, and contained 408 oz. of silver per ton. A tidy little $16 worth of gold per ton was just icing on the cake. All in all, 15,000 tons of rocky goodness came out of this place, which makes it far more valuable to mankind than any of us. Sorry to be a downer. Its run as a producer was short however, and after a few years the natural cave that once housed a museum of amazing earthy artifacts was stripped of its beauty and abandoned.

So, let's get in there. It's cold out and the sweet breath of adventure is upon us! Once you wiggle in a good 15 feet, you start to think this was probably a bad idea. And you're right. It WAS a bad idea. But we've gone this far, and you couldn't turn around if you wanted to, so let's push on. Except for all the rocks gouging into your soft, pink flesh, it's like getting birthed again.

Soon enough, things open up.

Like you would expect, it's pretty dusty in there. Look! A railroad! Let it be our guide to adventure and likely-doom!

Keep following the tracks! It's like a game, except with more lung-destroying particles!

This part caved in. That may be why they called it the Cave Mine. Either way, um, that's not too great of a sign. Let's keep going. (The Cave Mine actually contained several natural caves, which lead to the name).

This is what it looks like if you stare up an ore chute. What's great is that there's still a chance that ore will come crashing down on you if you stand there long enough. Mines are like that sometimes.

See that stuff on the walls? That's Aurichalcite!

It's a blue mineral that's really purdy, but impossible to collect because it falls part all the time and makes you swear. I tried to collect it anyway. Here's a list of all the things you can find if you have a low enough value on your life to risk wiggling into the Cave Mine.


That's a pretty good list. I didn't see any gold, but to be fair I didn't really see much of anything. I think I may have accidentally made that some sort of link to mindat. Mindat is a webpage that is covered in minerals and stuff. Go read it if you want. But not until you are done here. I'm very insecure.

Understandably, I didn't really want to hang out all that long in this mine, and neither should you. So let's leave that place for now.

So there you go. A mine that is really far away and pretty collapsey. Seems like that was a pretty interesting post. I'm pretty great and stuff. In the interest of wrapping up all the lose ends, Mr. Bradshaw never got much money out of his mine. Once he told folks about his magical dream-turned-reality mine it pretty much was taken away from him. So, once again we learn that everyone else are jerks.

The End