Joe and Nancy

Joe and Nancy
Our Home on Wheels (Click on image above for our web albums.)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Jeep Ride to Tonapah-Belmont Mine

We drove to Wickenberg once again, but this time we drove through town and turned left (south) onto Vulture Mine Road.  This stretch of road was asphalt all the way to Wickenberg Road/Aguila Road And at the intersection here the road changes to gravel, as shown above.  From this point it is approximately 6.6 miles to the Tonapah-Belmont Mine, referred locally as Belmont Mine.  The first 4 miles was pretty much your average dirt/gravel roads so typical of the secondary county roads throughout Arizona.  However, the last 2.6 miles was quite challenging in our new Jeep.  But first let me tell you a bit about the two mines, Vulture and Belmont. 
 From Wiki:  The Vulture Mine was a gold mine and settlement in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States. The mine began in 1863 and became the most productive gold mine in Arizona history. From 1863 to 1942, the mine produced 340,000 ounces of gold and 260,000 ounces of silver.[1] Historically, the mine attracted more than 5,000 people to the area, and is credited with founding the town of Wickenburg, Arizona.  The Vulture Mine began when a prospector from California's gold rush, Henry Wickenburg, discovered a quartz deposit containing gold and began mining the outcrop himself. The deposit was later sold to Benjamin Phelps, who represented a group of investors that eventually organized under the name of Vulture Mining Company.  The Vulture mine is on this same road, about 6 miles out of Wickenberg (named after Henry) and about 14 miles north of the Belmont Mine.  Belmont too, was owned by Henry.  Both were discovered in the 1860s but the Belmont produced about half of the gold that Vulture did. 
Although the picture doesn't show the real terrain here, I can tell you that we put the Jeep through some pretty rough trials.  Several places we had to literally creep over some huge stones in the washes.  And the ruts were huge.  We barely cleared several deep cuts in the down-and-ups of some of these washes.  One place I thought we were going to turn over.  But we finally made it 6.6m to the mine complex.

Belmont Mountain looking south
A little close view looking south.  Note the concrete structure to the left.  I would guess it held a large shovel crane to move the mined rock clusters to the wagons below.

Another set of foundations across from the other concrete structure.

Some interesting rock colors and formations.

One of the horizontal adits.  As we approached this adit opening, the wind was blowing such that we actually felt cold air and methane comiong from deep (1500') within the mine.  Because there have been two deaths in the early '90s, the state has been forced to seal these off with large iron gates inside.

From just outside the adit opening looking south towards Tonopah
Well, from the guide book we were using, the trail went south for about 20 more miles, now it was just after three in the afternoon.  I had no idea what that 20 miles had in store for us, and we hadn't seen a sole since we got on this trail about noon.  So, we opted to, go back the 6.6 miles to Wickenberg Road and high tail it on back to Goodyear.

Along the way back, we encountered a curious old cow.  She looked at us decided we were harmless and mosied on along.  Get along little doaggie.

Jeeps get very dusty, and they love the dirt.  More dirt the better.

Looking southeast towards Goodyear, about 25 milkes away.

This area was very remote.  No one was around, and it was eerily quiet, except for the sounds of birds and an occasional high flying jet in the sky. Well, better run for now.  I played my second round of golf today, and will play four more in the next four days with my friend from back home, Bill Cochran.  He's visiting us for a week and watching the Reds with us and getting some golf in at some nice courses here in the Goodyear-Avondale area.  So, till next time, Joe & Nancy