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Abandoned Mines Part III: Preserving the "Whispering Ranch" Mine

In Part Two of this series, “Preserving Abandoned Mines – Protective Closures,” I explored some of the methods used to preserve abandoned mines that support wildlife habitats, including fences, gates and cupolas. While simple fences are easily constructed with inexpensive materials, they do not prevent a determined individual from entering an abandoned mine. When it is appropriate to preserve the underground habitats, it becomes necessary to use materials and construction methods that are far more robust.

About fourteen miles south of Wickenburg there is an abandoned mine shaft popularly known as the “Whispering Ranch” Mine. Its real name is lost …

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Abandoned Mines Part II: Protective Closures

Footnotes and References: [1] Access to BLM Abandoned Mine Lands policies and manuals can be reached via these web sites: Abandoned Mine Land Program Policy Manual Section (MS-3720) http://www.blm.gov/nhp/efoia/wo/manual/manuals.html AML National Strategic Plan http://www.blm.gov/nhp/efoia/wo/fy06/im2006-145attach1.pdf AML Website http://www.blm.gov/aml BLM Manual Sections http://www.blm.gov/nhp/efoia/wo/manual/manuals.html [2] Bureau of Land Management H-3720-1 Abandoned Mine Lands Policy Handbook. …

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Abandoned Mines Part I: Preserve or Destroy?

Many stories about abandoned mines in Arizona don’t have happy endings. For example, the Tonopah-Belmont Mine, located about 24 miles southwest of Wickenburg, operated intermittently from the 1860’s until 1942 with a record of no fatalities. This, in spite of having a 500 foot deep shaft with working levels at 100, 250, 400 and 500 feet.

Responsible collectors of mineral specimens regularly (and safely) visited this popular site for 48 years until, in 1990, a young man set out to explore the underground workings on his own. About 100 feet into the McNeil Tunnel, in darkness, he stepped into a …

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Abandoned Mines – Avoiding a Deadly Pursuit

The lead photo in this article (Figure 1) shows a sign that most of you have probably never seen. In the decades that I’ve been hiking around mines in this state, this is the first and only barricade with a State Mine Inspector warning sign that I’ve ever encountered – and I have been to hundreds of mines that are every bit as dangerous as the shaft behind this barricade. The fine print on the sign states that “Entry into these workings is criminal trespass.” Hopefully, the rest of the sign speaks for itself.

Figure 1: Warning!

Interestingly, this …

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The Mines of Constellation Road

Months ago, I talked to Bob Nuth, a neighbor of mine, about ghost towns in the Wickenburg area. Bob told me that out on Constellation Road there were several mining sites with building ruins to explore. On a beautiful March Sunday, Mike and I set out in the Jeep with two bottles of ice water and our GPS to see what we could find.

The Drive

Leaving Wickenburg going toward Phoenix on East Wickenburg Way, we crossed the bridge over the Hassayampa and turned left at Constellation Road. We followed that past the rodeo grounds and beyond. The pavement ends …

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