Lost Horse Mine Trail

When I left off with yesterday's post, we'd taken a short walk out to see Arch Rock. We went back to the trailer, got Smitty out for a walk, had some lunch, and then took off for a much more challenging hike to see Lost Horse Mine. Our hiking book told us that the Lost Horse Mine operation was one of the most successful gold mining operations within the park. It seems Frank Diebold, a German prospector, initially discovered the gold strike, but it was Johnny Lang who was responsible for making the mine productive.

As the story goes, Lang was looking for a lost horse in 1893 when he came across Diebold's mining camp. Shortly thereafter, Diebold sold the mine rights to Johnny Lang and his father. Along with new partners, Thomas and Jep Ryan, Lang started up the Lost Horse Mine operation around 1895. Over the next ten years, they processed several thousand ounces of gold.

The existing structures I'm going to show you are among the best preserved mining structures within the National Park System. To read more about it on the National Park System website, click right here. For now, I'll show you the photos we took on this moderately strenuous hike. The hiking book promised us a 480-foot elevation change from the bottom of the trail up to the location of the mine, 2 miles in. According to the app on Mike's watch, the elevation change was more like 750 feet.

We first noticed this area in the image below where there is nothing growing. With the shape of the mountain being conical like that, we surmised that this might have been an ancient lava flow, but we have nothing to document that.

The hike took us up and up and up. It's always a good idea to turn around and look behind you and we noticed Mt. San Jacinto peeking over the hillsides in the distance. Here in Hemet, where we are now, Mt. San Jacinto towers over the city. I'll have some more pictures of it from the lowlands in another post.

Like I said, up and up and up...in fact, two miles of hiking up, and we were getting pretty tired when the mine first came into view. You can see it is still a long way off.

When we reached this point, we briefly considered whether we wanted to continue. In a moment of "well-we've-come-this-far-it-would-be-a-shame-to-turn-back-now" moment (wise or not), we trudged on. Besides, I knew Mike the engineer was going to love seeing all the machinery associated with this ancient gold-mining operation.

As we got closer, we came upon this piece of debris from a wagon (apparently). Our shadow selves wanted to get in on the act at that point, and so they took their first selfie of the trip.

Our physical bodies turned around so we could see how far we'd come.

Believe it or not, we were still standing upright when we finally reached the mine. It was worth the trip, believe me. Check out those big wheels and remember them. When I get around to the front, you'll be able to see how big belts wound around this apparatus and hauled gold from the mine.

To the left of the image above, you could see the mine shaft, which is pictured below. We estimate it to be about three feet square. I was holding the camera lens through a big chain-link fence, which folks had, nonetheless, pried apart to get closer and look down the hole.

Recognizing ourselves to be mortal, we stayed safely outside the fence. Mike climbed up a little higher to get a look at what he believed to be a winch.

This next image shows the mine from the other side, and those are cyanide settling tanks. I don't know the function of cyanide in gold mining, and so I can't tell you any more than that.

There were two rock structures above the winch. They were lined with concrete in order to hold water from runoff.

Here's a shot from below the mine. You can begin to see the crushers in front. They resemble large pistons.

Below, you can see another large wheel that would have held a belt and connected to the other wheels I've already mentioned. There was yet another broken wheel beyond that one, but it is in shadow in this image.

Here, you can see a better view of the crushers. There are ten of them, and I believe that is what accounts for its description as a "10-stamp" mine.

I'm sorry I couldn't get a better image of the sign. Like I said, I was shooting through a chain link fence.

Here's what it says: 

Operated intermittently between 1893 and 1936, the mine produced over 9,000 ounces of gold for its operators. Dutch Frank Diebold is credited with the original discovery of the claim, which he sold for $1,000 to Johnny Lang. Johnny reportedly first came upon Dutch's claim while looking for a lost horse, hence the current name.
The mine workings consisted of a 500-foot shaft, an early 80-foot adit, several slopes where the vein was followed, and at least six working levels. Major tunnels were developed at the 100-, 200-, and 300-foot levels. The shaft was sunk next to the quartz vein from which the ore-bearing portions, or shoots, were mined. Remnant mill features include the the large crushed ore storage bin, the 10 battery stamp mill, two rock walled water storage tanks, and portions of engines and compressors. This reasonably well preserved example of mining technology has been nominated to the National Historic Registry of Places to help preserve it for the enjoyment of future generations.

And after that, we went back the way we came, thankfully, downhill all the way from here. I stopped to take this next picture because of the little cactus growing out of solid igneous rock, against all odds.

As we drove the short dirt road back to the main highway, we stopped to take this picture of the veritable forest of Joshua Trees, growing thick as the hair on a dog's back (as my grandfather liked to say). It might be hard for you to see in this image, and so you'll have to take my word for it. It was like a jungle of Joshua Trees.

After that, we took a short drive out to Keys View lookout. We've been here before on a day when the wind just about blew us over the cliff. Unfortunately, I was shooting directly into the sun, and it was a hazy day to boot. And yes, it was just as windy as the first time we visited.

Here's a better image taken on our last visit back in January of 2008.

This is what I said about it in my old blog, Ribbon of Highway:

I had several articles about Joshua Tree and each of them mentioned having to travel back to the view multiple times to see it without the haze that sometimes masks the scenery. When we arrived there it was frigidly cold with sustained winds of 30+ miles per hour and gusts up to 60 mph. It was difficult to stand up in such winds and I found myself staying well clear of the edge of the canyon to avoid being blown off the cliff. 

And if you just can't get enough of my pithy and witty repartee, you can read the blog post from our previous visit to Joshua Tree National Park right here.

From there, the day was drawing to a close. We had good light heading back to our campsite, and we stopped along the way to take a picture of the rocks where the campground is located. I'll show you more of that in tomorrow's post when I tell you about the Skull Rock Trail.

After such a long uphill trek, we were pretty tuckered out. It was good to get back to the trailer and this pretty sunset.

Fast forward to today, and we're spending the day relaxing in Hemet. We came south to get warm and dry, and up until arriving in Hemet, we've been anything but. The weather was, of course, terrible as we drove south to Borrego Springs. Even after arriving in Borrego Springs, it has continued to be chilly enough that we've needed outerwear of some kind to stay warm. We decided to come to Hemet because we trusted it to be warm, and we have not been disappointed. It's nice to be in short sleeves, capri pants, and sandals, even if it is just for a few days before we take off again for Death Valley.

I'll have more for you tomorrow, and then we'll be caught up to the present. There have been no quilt shop visits thus far, and frankly, no quilt shops to speak of. There is one a little bit north of us here, but I've been there before. We'll keep looking, however. You can count on that.

11 comments from clever and witty friends:

WoolenSails said...

Beautiful scenery and views. I love visiting places where I can imagine what it was like when people actually lived and worked there.


QuiltShopGal said...

What an interesting and exhausting hike. Great job documenting and sharing photos to make a wonderful post. Thanks. Hope the rest of your trip continues to offer warmth and loads of fun.


Lyndsey said...

Beautiful scenery and I love the sunset. I had no idea how those gold mines worked. It is fascinating so I'm off to surf the net to find out more. I'm pleased you found some warm weather. It's cold, wet and ridiculously windy here in London. I can only dream of warm weather.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Great pictures as always - glad to see the shadow people are with you as this is pretty desolate country to be alone.

gpc said...

I would love to go there again. Isn't is amazing to think of people creating those mines, moving so much earth and rock, before what we think of as modern machinery. Simply amazing.

crazy quilter said...

This is truly a beautiful place, and so full of history . I am enjoying seeing your great pictures makes me feel like I am there with you. Enjoy your trip .

quiltzyx said...

I love the colors in the photo when you turned back & saw San Jacinto peeking out. And thanks for taking those extra steps up to the mine. It's cool to see the old machinery, just waiting for someone to visit. You & Mike always take us on the best vacations!

Dana Gaffney said...

Very interesting, I'm sure Mike was in his glory :). Hope you stay warm and dry, shouldn't Death Valley be nice and warm?

Sherry said...

I am intrigued by the mine operation. Getting the equipment to the location must have been quite a challenge for the time period. That was definitely quite a hike I am glad your knee held up for you. Always enjoy sunsets and your was a beauty. Looking forward to where we go tomorrow. :)

Kate said...

What great hike! Lots of old equipment to see. Thanks for sharing the beautiful scenery.

Brown Family said...

Beautiful pictures and great narrative. You always make me feel as if I were there with you. Love that sunset!