January 27th, 2019
We left Imperial Dam and headed over to American Girl Mine Road on January 22nd. It was very windy during the drive. Driving through Yuma on I-8 it was a crosswind that pushed us around pretty good. We setup off the south side of the road and positioned to get the best solar charging. Bill & Sue were with us at Imperial Dam and stayed behind when we left there. A couple of days later they messaged and said they’d come over to AGM as the cell service was non-existant where they were.
Jane and I hiked from the trailer to Vitrefax Hill. The round trip was about 6.5 miles round trip. There’s a mine shaft up and to the left of the old ore chute structure but I din’t venture into it past the opening. I climbed to the top of the hill to check out what the excavation near the top was mining. After climbing straight up the side I found that there was a rough roadway that was on the other side. I used that on the way down but the climb up was more fun. The cut near the top had exposed some white rock that was easy to break up by hand but I don’t know what it is. I looked for some Kyanite which is supposed to be in the area. I did find some rocks with bits of blue in them but not sure if that’s it. You can see the huge mine tailings pile in one of the pictures. There is an open pit mine on the other side of it.
Here’s a panoramic picture taken at the top of Vitrefax Hill.
The next day we did a bike ride up towards the Cargo Muchacho mountains. There’s a processing plant up near the end of the road. Not sure what it’s producing but it wasn’t busy and nobody was around although there was something running. I rode up to where I could see the end of the road and then we looped back around to another mine. There are a few large open pits in the area. This ride was just over 10 miles by the time we were back to the trailer. The open desert is great to ride through as it’s flat and you can ride straight through the small washes on a mountain bike.
The old Tumco town and mine site is north of where we were staying so we went for a drive up Ogilby Road and then into the parking area for the site. It’s a walking tour and there are a few numbered metal stakes at various places but there were no information plaques as to what was what and I couldn’t find anything on the Internet. There is a large plaque at the start and a couple within the town site that have pictures of the town as it was during its heyday.
There are various foundations scattered around the site. Some are reduced to holes in the ground or scattered piles of stones. A few still have a portion of a wall or foundation in place. The two wall sections were part of a hospital.
The ocotillo are quite green with the recents rains and some of them have flowers.
There were lots of spots with discarded tin cans from where the townspeople dumped their trash. It wouldn’t be the SW desert if there wasn’t a piece of steel with bullet holes in it.
We hiked out of the townsite to the north and up into a mountain where the was a large vertical mine shaft. It was secured with a large steel covering to prevent people from falling in. A stone dropped through the covering fell quite a distance before it hit anything. I was too busy dropping stones to remember to take a picture of it. A smaller horizontal shaft below it was also blocked off.
The large steel tanks were used to hold cyanide for processing the gold bearing ore. Now they are full of sand and slowly rusting away.
There is a small cemetery within the town site.
Just outside of the Tumco townsite is the Hedges Cemetery. Some of the graves looked to be children judging by the size of the stone pile.
Bill and Sue came over to American Girl Mine from Imperial Dam for the last few days we were there and I drove us back into the mountains to a large open pit mine and associated tailings pile. There was water in the bottom but no matter how hard we tried we couldn’t throw a stone far enough to hit it. We went as far as we could before the roadway got too rough for a 1ton diesel pickup. 🙂
Bill had brought so firewood with him so we had enough to have a fire one evening. Sue had the color chemicals to shake in so at one point it was also a colorful fire.
…and the stay at AGM ends with another sunset.