Wednesday, July 20, 2016

1 good day outta 3 ain't too bad.....

 Hello again, and welcome back to my adventures. As you can see by the title, this one wasn't quite as successful as I had wanted it to be. Oh well, all part of life I suppose. Day one, the only success of three, had us back in the Park Valley Mining District to finish up the trails and see what else was there. Our first discovery was that someone is actually mining the area. As you can see above, he has his tunnel locked up so no one can go in. He also has cabin and storage garage nearby. There was some signs of ore carts used, but I'm thinking he isn't using them now. I would really love to go and take a tour of what he has going on in there. 
 We continued up the mountain and came across this old engine. It is very old and I couldn't see any manufacture markings on it. It ran, and I am pretty sure I am right, the machine below. It has 4 cylinders and judging by its design, I am thinking it had a ton of power. The cylinder walls are huge so I am guessing it was designed to run machinery and not your mama's Desoto. This would be a fun project to return to running condition. I'll be damned tho as how to get it off the mountain. 
This apparatus was run by the above engine. I am not 100% sure as to what it is exactly so I will keep quiet on it till I know for sure. I do know it was made by the Fairbanks Morse company and they are still in business. I just put in a call to them so when they confirm my guess, I'll add a note to this blog.
 If you are my friend on Facebook, you saw the 3 houses in the cul-de-sac. Even tho there were 3 houses, they shared a common shitter. As you can see, its a genuine 2 holer and its not in working condition at the moment. I don't know how long it has been on its back, but I'm guessing a few years minimum. Now I know this sounds gross, but had I had the time, I would have dug where it once stood. Back then, when you threw away your garbage, you chucked it down the shitter. The human waste is long gone. The garbage on the other hand could still be there. Lots of people have dug up all sorts of things including coins where the outhouse once stood. Who knows, maybe I'll head back and try my luck.
 After we finished the PVMD, we went north and west into Idaho to the town of Twin Falls. Emily wanted to see the "falls" so we went there. Shoshone Falls is quite spectacular. The river is low so we didn't get the full effect, but what was running is always pretty. Early spring is the best due to the runoff. The foto above is the most awesome part of the whole area at this time. It would be really cool if you could somehow get closer to it. 

 The Perrine Bridge at Twin Falls is a sight to see. It spans the Snake River Gorge as almost a work of art. It is 1500 feet across and 486 feet above the river. Perhaps the most unique feature of the bridge is the fact that it is LEGAL to base jump and bungee cord jump off of. In the past I have seen it done, but as our luck would have it, no one did while we were there. Base jumping I  get. Bungee cord..... oh hell no! It might be a rush to someone to see that river coming strait at you and suddenly bounce back just before it happens, but not to me. Just imagining it gives me the willies. With my luck I would not only meet the river, but I would probably meet the bottom of it too. 
In the top left side of the foto above, there is a mound of dirt climbing from level ground up, as to form a type of ramp. This is what is left of the Evel Knievel stunt of jumping the Snake River Canyon. On September 8th, 1974, Knievel attempted to jump the canyon using a steam powered rocket. The parachute deployed prematurely and even tho he made it across, the wind pushed the rocket back into the canyon where it landed on the rivers edge. Rumor has it his son wants to do it himself somewhere in the near future. 
The next two days of said trip were the strikes. We headed into Nevada to search out some new old mining areas and didn't find one. We got permission to cross the San Jacinto Ranch property to begin our quest and it went to hell from there on. Though we did see some cool things, we took no fotos. I got on Google Earth and retraced our tracks and we missed by a mile. So, it now appears that we will have to do it again. Sux to be me! Jeep on my friends. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Twas, part II

 Continuing on our journey, we took to the road and went east. At this point it must be said that Birch Creek road now becomes East Vipont road. Why it does that, I don't know, it just does! Following the trail we came upon a massive stamp mill long since abandoned. According to research, this mill was able to process 200 tons of ore a day. The foto does not do its size nor the steepness any justice. The place is huge and being as it worked on gravity, its built on a very steep hillside.  
 All around the place are leftover relics from days gone by. As you pass through the sagebrush you must constantly watch where you place your feet as to not step on something sharp or jagged and ruin your day. The above foto shows a type of chute that material traveled down to another level.
 We thought that the mine was above the mill but it is said that it was a dumping point for a tram. The ore was brought down and stockpiled to be ran through the mill as soon as it could. 
 What amazes me the most is  how well these old places were built. The boards above are somewhere near 100 years old and they remain intact after such a long time. Other items spotted were good old fashioned iron pipes that could still be used today. Yes they were rusty, but they were still as solid as the day they were made. 
 Honestly, the barrel above could be 10 years old but I am thinking its way older. The iron cone was used to funnel something somewhere and could still be used today. Hell, the cement walls on the place are almost a foot thick. They built the foundation of this place to last. I sure wish the rest of it had been built that way. A stamp mill is such a cool thing. It functions almost like an engine. It has crankshafts connected to iron hammers that continuously move up and down smashing ore to dust. I can only imagine how loud it must have been. On YouTube, you can watch some demonstrations of tiny mills that have been preserved or rebuilt. These small units are very noisy so one can only imagine a whole buildings worth. 
 The mine we were looking for we did not find. Well, we did kind of, but not really. Our objective was the Phelan tunnel and we did find that. Well, what is left of it. According to an old engineering journal, the Phelan tunnel was built to aid in taking ore out of the main mine itself. The tunnel was to be 2000 feet strait in. At that point, they would start digging up and down and tie into the vein of the main mine. By doing this, they anticipated making extracting the ore much easier and  had an idea to install a tram way down to the mill or a small steam powered train. As to what happened???? Who Knows. There are no signs of a tram or rail bed. This mine would be fun to explore too, but alas, there is no way in from where we were. 
 I was standing on the tailings at this point looking back towards the tiny trail to get up to it. The slope is so steep that they are barely 40 feet wide at the top. 
The view looking down is scary. It is well over 500 feet almost strait down. One slip and away you will go. According to the GPS, the road ended just a ways up the canyon at a dead end. Looking on Google Earth you notice that it doesn't end and there are more mines in the area. Needless to say, we will be back out there soon to do some more exploring. I can't wait. Jeep on my friends!

Yah, twas a great day for Jeeping, part 1

 Last years adventure to the 3 corner area of Utah, Idaho and Nevada brought the discovery of another mining district in that area. The area is or was home to the Park Valley mining district. At that time, we were out of time to explore so it got put off until now, well yesterday actually, but you get the idea. The trip started at 8:00 am sharp and we headed west into the unknown. Our last trip 2 weeks ago to the area was rained out and it looked pretty certain to do the same today. The rain followed us to Snowville then disappeared for the day. We crossed into Idaho and went east on Birch Creek road. Well, it was muddy as hell and with not a lot of options, we retired back to the main road. I then decided to try the original road we tried 2 weeks ago and see how it went. It hasn't been driven on for ages, but it wasn't a mud-fest like the main road.  
 We headed east and the adventure began. Our first surprises of the day were the old army truck above as well as Mr. Snake, who was asleep under the door that had fallen off. I wonder how an old military truck ended up out in BFE? There isn't much left of it and the ID plates had all corroded away to nothing so we were unable to even tell what year it was. Someone must have wanted parts off of it years ago because it is basically cut in half behind the cab. I went on Google Earth last night and you can actually see this truck if you know what to look for. As I have said, this trail is pretty much unused. There are spot where it disappears and you have to guess where to go. This led to some kick ass wheeling until we finally arrived back on Birch Creek road. The area where they merge was perfect and we again headed east to our first stop, the Peg Leg mine.  
 The turn off to the Peg Leg is easy to miss. Thank heavens for the GPS. The road is barely visible and even then it looks like a hiking trail. We turned onto the trail and followed it for a bit. By this time we had crossed back into Utah and we headed north until we hit the border fence. The road dog legged east and wound down a slight draw to the mine site. I would be willing to bet that the entrance to said mine is in Utah, but the treasure was under Idaho. To our extreme disappointment, there wasn't much of anything left. The entrances, as you can see by these 2 fotos are caved in.  
 I am willing to give odds that there are still ore carts buried under the mountain. We did find some old track in the debris pile so I'm thinking there could be some carts in there somewhere. Like the mine in the Devils Playground area, this mine is also up a trail where trying to take some sort of tractor to dig it out would be damn near impossible. You know, I really want an old ore cart. They look so cool sitting out in front of houses and I might even be tempted to plant flowers in one......... maybe.
 Once we finished exploring that area, we left the Peg Leg and headed on to another mine on the map. Before we could get to it, this old cabin appeared on the hillside and it was just begging to be explored. We followed the trail up the hill and wound our way to the old site. Not a lot of people visit this cabin I am thinking. The sage brush around it was 4 feet high and even the trail was overgrown. It is a large cabin and considering it has to be over 100 years old, it's in fairly good shape. As we explored the GPS kicked out the name of this mine area as the Dolly Clark mine. For reasons I have yet to discover, this mine is not in the Park Valley district but in the Ashcroft Mining district. The mine produced silver in some quantity before its demise.  
Research on the Dolly Clark has led to nothing. It was a silver mine but that's about it. Some surveys say it is an underground mine and inaccessible due to water. I have no idea on the water issue. I am still not far enough along to go hiking steep mountains so this one will have to wait to be explored further. So far the day had been been great. We did some gnarly kick-ass Jeepin' and found 2 new mines. What would the rest of the day bring????  Jeep on my friends!

Friday, March 25, 2016

The one day trip to another country

 Good morning and welcome to another adventure down the road less traveled. Myself and Mr Womack decided that we needed to get the hell outta Dodge so we pointed Old Yellow west and went out into the desert to escape. Not quite sure on where I was headed, we arrived at mile marker 33 that leads to the Devils Playground at which point I consulted with my phone and began the search for the Republic of Zaqistan. This foreign country within a country was begun in 2005 by an artist from New York who purchased 4 acres in the west desert of Utah on Ebay. It was on this property that Zaq Landsberg formed the Republic of Zaqistan. 
 Earlier stories have placed Zaqistan in the middle of nowhere saying that it was a 2 mile hike from the nearest road. This is no longer true as you can drive right up to the border. This road requires a high clearance truck. We would recommend a 4x4 for any travel during a wet period of weather. The soil of the area turns to an incredible slick mess when wet. If you do not own a Jeep or a truck I highly recommend that you don't try your luck on driving the road. Cell service is non existent in Zaqistan with the nearest signal on the other side of the mountain you will cross to get there.   
 That said, the country is guarded by robot soldiers. The robot in the above foto is, I am guessing, the head of security. He is 20 feet tall and appears to be quite new to the country. He stands watch night and day over the small Republic of Zaqistan. 
 There are 3 more robotic soldiers in the country on a never ending watch but they appear to have gone AWOL. Each of these robots seem to have drinking problems which has led to their demise. Not one of them has remained "together" to do their duty. To see more fotos of Zaqistan visit To get to Zaqistan, you can send for a passport that comes with the coordinates or you can use the address of the country. I will not reveal how to get there, but I will give you the clue that we used to find it. The address of Zaqistan is " old railroad grade road, Park Valley, Utah. Using this should make it wee bit easier to locate the place. If you do go out and find it, please remember that this is owned by someone else. Don't use any of the objects in the country for target practice or destroy any of it just for the hell of it. Leave it alone so others can visit and enjoy the visiting the Republic of Zaqistan.  
 We came in from the west on our trip to Zaqistan and by doing so, you get to go through 2 railroad ghost towns. The first one is Watercress. This was a small town on the original Central Pacific line and was basically a water stop for the steam engine trains. Once the train ceased to pass through the town, due to the trestle built across the Great Salt Lake, the town faded into just a memory. 
 Though the town was literally located in the middle of nowhere, it appears that it had some of the finer things in life. I found this remnant of a fine china plate while walking through the town. Someone, sometime, had used this plate when it was a plate to eat their meals. The design on it shows it was, at one time, a very nice plate. It seems hard to imagine that a place, in the middle of nowhere, would have such nice things.    
 Traveling east from the town you run into 3 bridges that are still up. These are original bridges built way back in 1868 or 1869. This bridge is the largest of the 3 and it is still in great condition. The only use it sees anymore is the occasional person to walk over it or larges bird that build nests in the framework. Above, Kirt is walking across the bridge to investigate a large nest of a raven.   
 From under the bridge, you can see how large the timbers are that they used for its construction. The upper ones are massive boards that I assume came from the large growth trees in the Sierra-Nevada mountain range. I find it hard to imagine that this has been here for so long. Back in the good old days they sure built things to last.
 Continuing east you will next come to the ghost town of Terrace. Terrace was a huge town that some say had a population of 7000. It was built as a service town for the Central Pacific Railroad. At its peak, the town boasted 8 sidings and a roundhouse that could hold 16 engines. As before, when the railroad moved the main line from the Promontory route to across the lake, Terrace gave up the ghost. What stayed alive after the trains were gone was eventually moved to Nevada where the new maintenance facilities were set up. Terrace doesn't have much left. There is a cemetery and a huge pile of red bricks. 
You can also see where some of the sidings were located. A few of these sidings still have to railroad ties in the ground. There are even more ties scattered about the town. I think it would have been quite an adventure to take the train from San Francisco to Ogden. Even today I would love to take Amtrak from Salt Lake to the west coast. It really isn't very expensive and think of all the stuff you could see along the way. Maybe someday I will get to do this. The only drawback to passenger train service is the fact that it is slow. People nowadays want to get to their destination asap not wasting any time. Me, I think it would be a great way to relax and see sites you otherwise would not see. Oh well, all in all it was a great day. I wish we could have spent more time out there but the Jeep started throwing a warning code that if I shut it off, it may not start again. Ya gotta love modern electronics: NOT! Jeep on my friends.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Damn, it has been a long time!

 Wow, my last entry was in October and life has been quite interesting since then. My sternum decided to split apart in December and caused me great pain. Such a lovely Christmas gift to myself huh? So, it was time to call the Dr again. Damn it! I called good old Dr Patel and on January 12th I went in and they bolted me together with titanium plates. I went home and waited for the 25th to go back and get this and done with. Surprise, on the 24th I ended up in the ER with a high fever and they shipped me to Salt Lake in an ambulance. The next morning i was diagnosed with a nasty staph infection and i was rushed into surgery and they removed all the titanium they had put in 2 weeks before. Then, they left me open till Wednesday and went back in and finally closed me up. Long story short, after 7 weeks with an I.V. line in my arm for antibiotics 3 times a day I was cleared today as healthy and fit. Knock on wood! So, today we celebrated. I went to Salt Lake and got the picc line removed by 9am and headed out to the Oquirrh mountains to play. We tried Dry Canyon and since it is on the north facing slope we got no where. Then it was up to Ophir to see what was going on there. Snow finally stopped us just after the the top foto.  

 As you can see, there is still some snow left in the mountains, on the north slope. Southern slopes are bare as well as well as the flat ground. We drove up the canyon till the snow blocked our path and we could go no further. The "river" there is hardly flowing at all. It's fed into the water system with extra going down thru the town. As of today it was hardly filling the towns needs. Its gonna be a dry summer I'm afraid. 
 Next we decided to try Soldier Canyon, just above Stockton. There are a few mines up there as well as some charcoal kilns. The refiners of the ore mined out of the mountains used charcoal in the process. 
 There are 3 obvious kilns to be seen as well as maybe a 4th. They are not in very good condition, but I blame that on age. These kilns were built by a company called Waterman Coking ovens in 1869 or 1872. There are conflicting reports on the exact date. They built them central to all the mines in the area to make them more efficient. 
 The above kiln is the best of them. These kilns did a ton of work before methods changed and they were phased out. They are built towards the end of the canyon, or end as far as driving the Jeep. The trail narrows to true ATV width just past them and I haven't been up that trail. I am sure there are even more mines up there, since they were centrally built to serve the area. Even though they sit at 6100', the weather there was quite nice today. Just didn't have a lot of sun shine. 
After that, I took a new trail even further north, right above Stockton. It was here we found mud in abundance and we climbed up probably to 7000'. The foto above is looking west over the Rush Valley at the snow on the other mountain range. I've never been over there so that might be another adventure to come. All in all, it was a great day. I am tired but each day I get stronger and hopefully soon I will be back to normal again. Jeep on my friends.