Gold Hill Mine

The Gold Hill Mine is located approximately 250 yards west of Johns Camp; it's easy to find as the tailing piles can be seen from quite a distance, they are quite obvious from the camp site. Just start hiking.

Although one trail guide book refers to this site as the Ming Mine, the State Mineralogist reported in 1929: "Gold Hill Mine. It comprises 5 claims located 6 miles east of Keys' Ranch and 12 miles south of Twenty-nine Palms, in the San Bernardino range of mountains. Owners, C. H. Wiser, Anvil B. Johns, Rialto, California, and J. A. Johns, San Bernardino, California." This, combined with one other interesting bit of information actually located at the mine, confirms to me that it is the Gold Hill Mine. But I could be wrong. It's fascinating to me that there is such little documentation to be found for such an extensive operation as once existed there. 

The mine workings are located above the Desert Queen wash, on the west-facing slope of a range of small hills. There are two main shafts which have been grated over, along with one tunnel. There are also a few drift adits and minor trenches in the general area. The picture above show the three main workings, as well as several prospects.

There are two mining "roads" that lead up to the workings, one that heads up from the east side of the operation, and one from the west side. I decided to climb a small rise on the opposite side of the wash from the mines, to see if I could get a better overall shot of the workings. The wildflowers like the wash.

I headed up a small side-canyon south of the wash (which is actually an important canyon for another adventure), and after stumbling up the side and out towards the edge of the cliff, I was rewarded with this beautiful view of the main tailing pile and the valley out beyond. 

And a telephoto of the two main shafts. The other small tailing piles visible are small prospect holes or trenches, dug as exploratory works that didn't pan out.

Falling back down the hill, I headed over towards what I though would be an easy access on the west side of the mines. There was a road there at one time, but it's pretty much gone now and the much easier access is the road at the east end of the wash in front of the hill. But I made the climb.

And there it is, the main tailing pile. It's pretty good size and I was excited to check out the mill foundations on the other side, so naturally I climbed onto the top of the tailings. It's what I do. And then I climbed on top of that big rock.

Here's my lizard's eye view of the mill foundations and assorted detritus down below. That big slab is still pretty much intact; it measures approximately 8-feet by 10-feet. The upper one, however, is in kibbles and bits. There's some interesting history down there.... Time to go down and check it all out.

This old cement footing is a clue as to this mine being the Gold Hill Mine. One of the registered owners was Anvil B. Johns (who names their boy 'Anvil?') and those are his initials in the cement block, along with the date April 1, 1931. I don't think it was an April Fools Day joke. I spotted his initials in two other spots as well.

One last view of the mill and machinery foundations and then I headed up behind the tailing pile to check out the mines. 

This is the tunnel directly behind the large pile of tailings and which was obviously the main working of the mine. I'm not sure how far it goes back, but it seems to head horizontally back into the side of the hill for quite a distance. They must have been following a lead or vein that kept taunting them farther and farther into the hill, but it probably never resulted in a big strike.

Now it was time to head up the hill to the highest shaft.

It was a little slippery climbing this hill, but I triumphed over the slag. There are a substantial amount of tailings associated with this shaft, a pile on each side and one sloping down in front of it. It's a good thing these shafts are grated, because they go down a long way.

While there's not really any traces (tools, trash &c.) of mining activity left to see up here, other than the grated-over shaft, the effort of climbing up the hill was rewarded with a view as good as gold.

Here's a great shot of the main tailing pile and mill foundations, taken from on high. The weather fully cooperated and provided a great day for exploring and taking pictures.

This is the other grated-over shaft. It's located a bit west of the previous one and slightly downhill. It too goes straight down thousands and thousands of feet. Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration, but it does go down quite a ways. I always drop a rock down these things to see how far it will fall. See that red barrel cactus at the upper right? I think it was watching me.

Checking out this last shaft brought the Gold Hill Mine expedition to a close. It was a fun trip, I always enjoy finding a place that I haven't yet been to and the Gold Hill Mine had a lot to see and explore. An extra bonus? It's only about a mile hike from where I parked Old Blue. I'll probably be back.

That tailing pile located southwest across the wash from the main group of workings is also a part of the Gold Hill Mine. It's located a short distance up a small canyon, on the south-facing slope above the wash. There's not much there to see, but that canyon provides an easy route to another remarkable spot in the Desert Queen Wash, Boulder Cabin under the eye of Beak Boulder, also known as Eagle Rock.