Wednesday, February 05, 2014

WE FOUND ‘ANTARES’ CABIN, NORTH STAR GOLD MINE, & A BIGHORN SHEEP DOING BATTLE WITH A BARREL CACTUS

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(This is Tuesday’s post)

No wind this morning when Pheebs & I stepped out into the pre-dawn darkness.  Beaming stars from mountain top to mountain top told me we were in for a clear sunny day.  But I could see my breath in our coach’s amber outdoor light.  A bit on the cool side but knew by mid morning we’d once again be in short sleeves.

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We had some general directions on where to find the Antares (an-tar-ees) cabin but nothing specific.  Knew it was somewhere near the NORTH STAR GOLD MINE site on the southeast corner of the Kofa Mountains up King Valley Road.  With turkey salad sandwiches made up we swung the Jeep left out of our campsite & headed ourselves in an easterly direction.  At marker 00 we again swung left & headed north straight for the Kofa Mountain range.

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HEADING FOR THE KOFA MOUNTAIN RANGE

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CAME ACROSS THIS UNUSUAL FORMATION WHICH WE KNEW NOT TO BE NATURAL

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WE SUSPECT IT HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH MINING & WAS DUMPED HERE

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GOT THEM A ‘KING OF THE CASTLE’ GAME GOING

It was a sunny morning again but we did have the Jeep’s heater snapped on for about half an hour until things warmed up outside.  The road we were on was not new to us.  We had been up this road & into this neck of the desert once before back in February of 2010.  Had our little 2 wheel drive Hyundai Santa Fe at the time & it handled a lot of these roads just fine & especially King Valley Road which is reasonably smooth in spots.

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JUST A LITTLE DESERT & MOUNTAIN SCENERY ALONG THE WAY

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We spotted mine tailings on the mountainside ahead & knew from our map this was likely the site of North Star Mine.  Turns out it was.  Turned left off King Valley onto a narrow rocky road which led us maybe a quarter to half a mile in toward & almost right to the mountain base where we could see evidence of once upon a time mine buildings & workings.  Old iron pipe gate with a wire across so parked the Jeep & we were off on foot the last few hundred yards or so.  Spotted an intact building ahead & as we made our way closer we began to suspect this just might be the Antares Mine Cabin. 

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LOOKING CLOSELY YOU CAN SEE MINE TAILINGS & CONCRETE FOUNDATIONS

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A plaque out front confirmed it was indeed the cabin.  Not a little cabin like I had expected but a substantial intact building.  And surprisingly enough it has not been trashed like we so often see with other old buildings out in remote areas.  No broken windows or doors.  How nice to see the rabble rousers have left this cabin alone.  Even a bench on the porch.

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Doors were locked of course but I was able to take some flash photos through the windows.  If only these old places could talk oh the stories they could tell.  The North Star Mine operation itself was only another few hundred yards beginning on a gentle slope & then crawling right up the steep mountain base.

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THAT OLD WITH STEEL SINK IS THE EXACT SAME TYPE OF SINK WE HAVE IN CONGRESS

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BUNK BEDS & NOTICE ALL THE NATURAL WOOD FLOORS & WALLS

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EVEN SKY LIGHTS

We had walked about half way from the cabin to the mine site when I noticed Pheebs had stopped in her tracks staring straight ahead & up.  I followed her site line & sure enough she had spotted a Bighorn Sheep making it’s way up the steep rocks heading away from the mine.  Over the next 40 minutes while exploring around the mine we kept an eye on that Bighorn & he in turn kept an eye on us.  We later saw him doing something rather strange. 

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In the meantime we spotted a mine shaft going straight into the mountain & it was easily accessible.  Kelly sat on a rock watching the Bighorn while I slipped through the entrance into the horizontal shaft.  I was right away surprised by the warm air coming out of the darkness ahead & stacks of crumbling cardboard cartons containing rock core samples piled on the ground.  There were hundreds of them stacked along the mine shaft floor stretching far back into the tunnel.  I ventured in about a hundred feet or so & the shaft just kept going & going & of course getting darker & darker the further I went from the entrance.  With only my camera flash to light the way I decided I had better not go any further.

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MINE SHAFT ENTRANCE AT LOWER LEFT

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PHEEBS STAYED AT THE ENTRANCE WHILE I HAD A LOOK AROUND INSIDE

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PRETTY DARK INSIDE & WARM

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DOGGY WAS WAITING FOR ME BACK AT THE ENTRANCE

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THIS IS A PIECE OF ONE OF THOSE CORE SAMPLES

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KELLY WAITED OUTSIDE THE MINE ENTRANCE KEEPING AN EYE ON THE BIGHORN HIGHER UP

We continued our exploring around the site & I would say this was the best old mine site we have ever seen simply because much of what was there maybe 50 or a hundred years ago is still there.  Especially old weather beaten lumber.  An old wooden sluice box running down hill.  Numerous old wooden ladders lying about.

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THIS WASHED OUT AREA WOULD HAVE ONCE BEEN FILLED WITH BUSY MINE WORKERS

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REMAINS OF EITHER A WATER OR CYANIDE TANK

Climbed up onto some thick reinforced concrete foundations where once heavy mining equipment had once been installed.  Probably a stamp mill.  This was obviously a fair sized operation at one time.

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A HEAVY EQUIPMENT STAMP MILL MAY HAVE STOOD ATOP THIS STONE & CONCRETE WALL

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I’M GUESSING A HEAVY FLYWHEEL ONCE TURNED IN THIS CONCRETE CHANNEL & AM GUESSING THAT WIDE STRAP OR STROP WAS ON THAT FLYWHEEL

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ALL THIS SURE STIRS ONE’S IMAGINATION AS TO WHAT WAS HERE & HOW IT ALL WORKED

I was able to make my along a rough foot path to a section of the mine which I assume was the main pit.  A wooden ladder went straight down into the inky darkness of a black hole & I could not see the bottom.  Lot of old heavy lumber lying about here with a reinforced wooden girder which was probably used with some kind of block & tackle affair to bucket out the mine’s diggings.  The vertical shaft was all boarded off with old lumber but if someone wanted to go down that old ladder into the shaft they could.  That someone would not be me!!  What an amazing place this was.  One could almost hear the noisy clanking heavy mining equipment working away grinding heavy boulders down .  Miners & workers shouting back & forth over the din.  Shift changes as men came & went.  What a history this place must have had.

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Meanwhile the Bighorn sheep had moved a bit farther up the mountain but Kelly was still keeping an eye on him because he was up to something. 

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YOU CAN SEE HIS WHITE RUMP IN THE VERY CENTER OF THE PHOTO

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He had stopped at a Barrel Cactus & was butting it with his head & pawing at it with his legs.  This went on for a long time & every time he butted it the Cactus waivered back & forth.  He reached his head up to the Cactus & was maybe eating parts of it.  Unfortunately our binoculars were back in the Jeep.

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HE REPEATEDLY HEAD BUTTED THIS BARREL CACTUS

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HERE HE PAWS AT THE CACTUS WITH HIS HOOF

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IN BOTH THESE PHOTOS THE BIGHORN & THE CACTUS ARE IN THE CENTER…RIGHT PHOTO SHOWS ABOUT HOW FAR AWAY HE WAS & IF IT HADN’T BEEN FOR PHEEBS SPOTTING HIM EARLIER WE NEVER WOULD HAVE SEEN HIM…AND IF KELLY HADN’T KEPT AN EYE ON HIM WE WOULDN’T HAVE SEEN HIM AT THE CACTUS BUT WE MIGHT HAVE HEARD HIM……….

We probably spent an hour at the site just looking around at everything, taking photos, & watching that Bighorn.  Took a few last photos of the Antares Cabin below & that was about it.

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KELLY SPOTTED THIS ROCK WITH A BUNCH OF GOLD FLECKS IN IT:))

We could tell Pheebs was thirsty so we made our way back down past the Antares cabin in the direction of the Jeep.  We couldn’t help but notice the heaping amounts of broken green glass.  Not just the usual stuff left by uncaring people.  No, this was much more than that & the types of broken bottles all seemed the same.  Beer bottle size.  We’re guessing this may have been the dump site for the mine plus the nearby long gone mining town of Polaris.

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Back at the Jeep Pheebs had a big drink & we all got right into our turkey salad sandwiches with chips.  No pickles this time, too messy.  For Kelly & I this is our kind of favorite day.  Out exploring, seeing & finding things we had never seen before.  Historical old places & events.  And all the time surrounded by clean fresh air & some of the most magnificent natural scenery Mother Nature has to offer anywhere.  How could we be any more fortunate.

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Another desert road led off towards the southwestern side of the Kofas & we knew it to be a dead end road.  Slipped on down it anyway to see if there was anything at the end.  Just more beautiful scenery just as we expected.

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CLOUD SHADOWS ON FLOATING ACROSS THE MOUNTAIN TOPS

Followed the road back & turned in the direction of another old historical mine about a mile & a half away called the KING OF ARIZONA GOLD MINE.  There are a few people living out here close to that mine so we didn’t venture up to it.  Prospectors can be a little unpredictable when it comes to Gold claims.  Just some telephoto shots of what I think were King of Arizona Mine buildings.  And a few shots of some dwellings we think people lived at.  I had taken similar photos here back in 2010.

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I’M GUESSING THESE ARE THE MINE BUILDINGS AT THE ‘KING OF ARIZONA MINE’

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WE THINK PEOPLE LIVE HERE

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It was a dust filled bumpy drive back across the green desert floor to our rig.  Stepped on it a bit on our return & made it in about half an hour.  It was going on 3 o’clock so our great exploring day had lasted about 5 hours.  Again, it was our kind of day here at the Bayfield Bunch.

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ANOTHER SHOOT-OUT WITH OUR CAMERAS ON THE WAY BACK TO THE RIG

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Our fresh water tank is low so we made the decision to head for home in the morning.  We have water jugs here to pick us up more water but we both agreed it was time to head home for a rest anyway.  Again it is what’s so great about having a sticks & bricks base right here in the middle of Arizona.  Just as we so much enjoy getting away on our boondocking adventures we also so much enjoy returning to our Congress home base.  As has been said so many times, ‘the best of both worlds’.   

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<<< PUTTING THE SOLAR PANEL DOWN IN PREPARATION FOR LEAVING IN THE MORNING

Deciding on an RV lifestyle is a major decision in anybody’s life made even bigger if one decides to sell everything they own & hit the road traveling full time in their RV.  Probably the biggest hurdle after a decision has been made to do that is selling one’s house.  This can go well or it can turn into a bit of a nightmare for many.  Case in point is MERIKAY'S recent post.  Stress is an everyday factor at the moment as she & husband Craig deal with the frustrations & disappointments of trying to sell their house.  This is an honest from the heart post & Merikay pulls no punches about how she & Craig are feeling about this & what has been happening because of it in their lives.  I always appreciate & respect people who are honest enough with their feelings, themselves, & others to write posts like this………………

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GROANER’S CORNER:((  I think most everybody has required the services of a Lawyer at some point in their lives & have no doubt come away with some of the following feelings………………

  • Why is it that many lawyers have broken noses?
    From chasing parked ambulances.
  • What do you call a lawyer with an I.Q. of 50?
    Your honor.
  • What do you call a lawyer whose gone bad?
    Senator.
  • What's the difference between a lawyer and a trampoline?
    You take off your shoes to jump on a trampoline!
  • How can you tell when a lawyer is lying?
    His lips are moving.
  • What's the difference between a dead dog in the road and a dead lawyer in the road?
    There are skid marks in front of the dog.
  • How many lawyers does it take to roof a house?
    Depends on how thin you slice them.
  • What do lawyers do when they die ?
    Lie still.

23 comments:

KarenInTheWoods Karen Pfundtner said...

A wonderful day out and about for the Bayfield Bunch! But I think i would have stuck with Pheebs at the opening of the mine and not went inside. I am a chicken.



~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Karen and Steve
(Blog) RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard
http://kareninthewoods-kareninthewoods.blogspot.com
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

John and Pam (ohtheplacestheygo.wordpress.com) said...

Another jackpot day! I can't believe that building is in such great shape. Must be hidden just enough to keep other away.

Sue Malone said...

Great sunny day in the gorgeous desert, Al. I, too, read about Craig and Merikay's troubles with their house sale. Merikay has always been forthcoming in how things are going and I love that about her stories. Still hard to hear how hard things are for her right now. On the other hand, your choice to keep a couple of home bases fits well with others of us who are willing to give up the sticks and bricks

Sue Malone said...

Oh crumb. I meant Aren't willing etc. The blogger comment form keeps giving me trouble for some reason...or maybe it's my typing skills!

Judith Bell said...

Now that bighorn would have been the highlight of the day for me!

George Yates said...

Some great discoveries you made and the big horn sheep a bonus too.
Now back to Congress and get ready for the next adventure.

Janna and Mike said...

Great photos from your little jaunt Al!! Wonder what that sheep was doing with the cactus?? We can't wait to get back down there, leaving MT on Feb. 18.

Jerry C said...

Another awesome post, as usual. Made me feel like I was right there with you. Like you, I love old sites such as that, and also find myself picturing such places in their heyday. I've noticed the long strap you use on your camera for long hikes. Would you mind mentioning something about it in a future post? I'm looking for something similar, and would prefer an experienced opinion. Thanks in advance..jc

Lisa said...

Now that is one absolutely fabulous day in the desert! From the very intact mine to the awesome bighorn sheep you had me hooked! Kofa is definitely on our to-do list. Thanks for bringing this place to our attention.

Metamorphosis Lisa

Nan Talley said...

I believe that the Big Horn is thirsty. Our California daughter says that they only remain near humans is when they are thirsty. The thirst overrides their fear and flight behavior.

Great tour, Al! Loved every minute of it.

Lynda Bogart Stilley said...

Wow, this is really calling to me! It is so green compared to here in Borrego. Your bighorn photos are fantastic! Thanks...

Jean and Skip said...


wonderful photos as usual, and another great day doing what you love best.

Doug Laning said...

Had a great day exploring. Looked those Big Horn sheep shots. Pheebs has sharp eyes to spot him.

LenSatic said...

Al, the mine you identified as the King of Arizona mine is the Rob Roy mine. KOFA is on the east side of the mountain. There is a cemetery over there as well.

Pat

Donna Cave said...

Just seeing that Bighorn would have made me giddy! I may have missed it, but do you know about what vintage that old mine is??..and for God's sake, don't climb anymore ladders..up..or down!

SallyB said...


Oh what a sweeeeet, sweeeeeeeet day......and to think you three are always so generous about sharing so we can all come along and enjoy !!!!
A great big special WOOOOOOF, WOOOOOOOF to The Pheebs for zeroing in on the Big Horn !!!!!

Gypsy said...

I don't think I would have the nerve to walk intok a mine shaft! The cabin seems to be in decent shape still - wonder if it will just go into eventual decay.

Karyn Lee said...

Me thinks the sheep was putting on a show cause he was being watched!

Great area for sure, love the mines. Some awesome stories there for sure.

Poor Merikay, hope it all works out for them. Nothing worse than trying to sell a house and getting stalled like that.


Cheers!

Russ Krecklow said...

Wow, you really found some great sites today, and the fact that they haven't been disturbed very much is amazing! Love to see all that nice blue sky, too!!! Sure wish is was as warm here as it is there. We're supposed to have snow on the ground in the morning. If you want to trade places, you could shovel my sidewalk, Al. ;))

That big horn was very interesting. Wonder what he was up to with that cactus? Do you think they could get any moisture out of that? Makes me very curious...guess I'll have to do some research and see if I can find out anything.

Donna K said...

See! I told you you should hire Pheebs out as a tour guide haha!! It's not everyone who could spot a bighorn sheep like that. Great post today - wonderful tour and fantastic pictures. Enjoyed it all.

Tom _Kathy_Retired said...

I like to explore old mine sites also. Trying to place all the missing equipment is fun, helps that I have been to mining museums and a few intact sites. That was a wonderful day you had there.

Thanks for taking us readers along.

edlfrey said...

Found this at https://sites.google.com/site/bighornsheepjm2011/home

My name is Jack and I'm a 7th grade student at Correia Middle School. In my science class, I had to do an endangered species project about an animal that was native to California. I decided to do my research on the Desert Bighorn Sheep. I chose this species because I was very interested in how such a large mammal could survive in the desert with so little water. This website will explain how the Desert Bighorn Sheep can survive such harsh conditions in the desert, and what we are doing to protect this amazing animal.

Bighorn Sheep eat a very wide variety of plants, including cacti, but they prefer green grasses to cacti. Their digestion is very complex having a nine-stage process that allows them to get as much nutrients as they possibly can, from the hard rations that they eat. It may be weeks in between visiting water holes, so in order to get proper amounts of water they split open barrel cactus and eat the watery insides.

Thank You Jack!

2e451336-9d7a-11e3-95e0-000bcdcb8a73 said...

Nice pictures of the North Star Mine area, the only problem is that you could be charged with a violation of ARS 13-1504 (A)(4), which is criminal trespassing in the first degree. The North Star Mine and several other mines in the area are not only private property but they are active mining claims. They are in-holdings inside the Kofa NWR and therefore not accessible to the public. There are several other private property mining claims in addition to the North Star scattered around inside Kofa NWR. Some are marked extremely well like the Castledome Muesum; while others like the King of Arizona Mine are not. It is therefore suggested that you do not enter any of old mines.