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Report - Lost Burro Mine, Death Valley, California, USA – March 2012

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by 747_kirki, Mar 2, 2012.

  1. 747_kirki

    747_kirki Death Valley is Mine
    28DL Full Member

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    It’s that time of the year again, and I’m off for a four day trip to Death Valley in California to do some more back country exploring in search of ghost towns and abandoned mines.

    We flew into Vegas, via LAX, on Wednesday night, before driving the 2.5 hours to Death Valley – by which time we’ve been travelling for 24 hours and are dog-tired. The last 10 miles are a killer trying to keep awake. Bedded down at the Furnace Creek Ranch in the centre of the Valley.

    Thursday morning and we’re up at the crack of dawn. Rather than taking the Avis rental SUV we got at the airport, this time we’re swapping cars for a more rugged modified Jeep Rubicon, which can take us to some of the remoter places thanks to a raised suspension and big chunky off-road rubber. You can hire them from Farrabees Jeep Hire in Furnace Creek.

    First port of call is to get to Lost Burro Mine – which is off in the north west part of the Park, en route to a place called The Racetrack (where rocks move mysteriously by themselves along the dry lake bed, and via the aptly named Teakettle Junction:

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    It’s graded dirt road most of the way, except the last couple of miles, where the road narrows and gets pretty bumpy. Certainly glad we’re doing this in the Jeep, and not one of Avis’ finest.

    Great to be in Death Valley at this time of year as the temperature are reasonable – no burning heat. But it’s also very quiet – we didn’t see a single other car on the way to the mine, and expect we were the only people to make it to this place for a good few days at least.

    On the approach to Lost Burro Mine, the first thing you see is old rusted cans and drums strewn about the place, and then the actual camp site comes into view. The first claims were staked here in 1907 – between then and 1912 it’s said to have produced $85,000 of Gold. And I believe they kept on working here on and off until at least the 1940s or 1950s.

    The main building at the camp is still weather-tight, but you need to be careful in these buildings of the mice and packrats. It’s not that they’ll attack you (I don’t think) – more that in this part of the world, their faeces, urine and saliva can spread the Hantavirus (which can be deadly to us mere mortals). So you must not come into contact with their droppings, or stir up dust in the buildings and then breathe it in.

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    Inside the building are lots of old remnants:

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    Adjacent is a wooden shack which was used for stores and further beds:

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    And next door is the toilet – just about still standing:

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    Slightly further up the track is the entrance to the mine, and if you stoop down and walk inside then you don’t have to go too deep before you come to an area of old shelves, plus some stores remaining. The mine continues further on and the ceiling height gets pretty low; I didn’t go any further, but still saw plenty! Was great fun in there.

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    And up on the hill behind is the old mill, which was built in 1917. A lot of its parts were later salvaged and moved to another mine, but the timber frame is still there.

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    Looking back down to the mine camp and my four wheels out of here:

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    And from up here, you can see the road out. And no guys, I still haven’t watched “The Hills Have Eyesâ€; maybe I better had!!!

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    I will put up another report from Thursday afternoon’s backcountry adventures soon. And still got another full day of exploring to come on Friday before its time to fly back across the pond and get back to work. :tumbleweed
     

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