North of Kingman, Arizona, is a dry and desolate yet starkly beautiful stretch of desert country known, ironically, as Golden Valley.
Today, the nearby town of Chloride has a permanent population of about 250, yet 100 years ago the area was a thriving mining region with more than 75 operating silver, zinc, lead and gold mines.
Most of them are forgotten and lost to history.
As a lucky resident of Mohave County, I can personally attest to the beauty and the wonder of the area.
And the lost mines? Well, letâ€™s go and see.
From Phoenix, head north on Rt. 60 as far as Wickenburg. Then take Rt. 93N; it will run into and become a part of Interstate 40 east of Kingman.
At that point take I-40W into the city of Kingman, the seat of Mohave County.
The total distance from Phoenix is roughly 200 miles. There are many fine hotels and motels in the clean, historic railroad city of Kingman, as well as many good restaurants.
Let me recommend Mr. Dâ€™z Rt. 66 Diner, a 1950â€™s-decor restaurant at the intersection of 1st St. and E. Andy Devine Ave. (the street is named after the famous actor and Kingmanâ€™s native son).
While you dine you can watch the BNSF trains go by across the way, formerly the road for the famous Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad.
Mr. Dâ€™z is just across the street from the excellent Powerhouse Museum, a converted early 1900â€™s electrical generating plant that contains railroad and Native American displays and a whole floor dedicated to Rt. 66.
The friendly and helpful staff at the museum will assist you with brochures, books and directions to find other interesting places in Mohave County.
More information about the museum can be found at www.kingmanto
Drive north out of Kingman on Rt. 93 for 18 miles and turn right (east) on Chloride Road (Rt. 125) and go about three miles.
During your scenic drive, watch for wildlife, including jackrabbits, coyotes and wild longhorn cattle.
Turn left onto Old Chloride Road, a wide well maintained dirt road cutting through BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land. After about .7 of a mile, turn right onto a dirt trail.
Itâ€™s rough, but I made it with my Chevy Cavalier; any high clearance vehicle will have no trouble at all.
Another .2 of a mile will bring you to the striking site of the Diana Mine, 2 miles west of Chloride, once owned by the Arizona Magma Mining Company, but long since inactive.
The Diana was a surface and underground mine that turned out gold, silver and lead.
For you lucky holders of a GPS device, the map coordinates are 35 E 25â€™2â€ N., 114 E 13â€™34â€ W and it lies at an altitude of 3,903 feet.
The Diana was originally opened with a 500-foot shaft and had a hoist, compressor, flotation plant and even a bunkhouse that housed 35 men.
Incidentally, the Arizona Magma Mining Company was incorporated in 1925 with C. S. Carpenter as president.
Their old mining certificates are a beautiful, historical collectible. Perhaps youâ€™ll be lucky enough to find one in the nearby antique shops of Chloride or Kingman.
Note that abandoned shafts abound in the state of Arizona. While most have been located and enclosed with wire fencing by the state for everyoneâ€™s protection, some may not as yet have been found, so the hiker and metal detecting enthusiast must be aware of such dangers. Be constantly on the alert for openings in the ground that may be partially covered by old planks and/or brush.
For me, itâ€™s always a plus to locate an abandoned mining site that has some ruins still there in addition to the ubiquitous piles of tailings and mine shafts.
The old Diana Mine has tailings, concrete ruins and foundations to see, as well as a wonderful, large wooden structure known as a gallows frame or headframe that once contained the hoisting rope and ore bucket.
This was used to bring ores up from the mine when there were no horizontal tunnels that led to the outside.
Built of large, squared lumber, the aged, brown structure stands about 20 feet high and is roughly 15 feet square.
The front has a run-off trough, possibly for the unground ore that was to be taken to the dump-site (dump ore), while in the rear is another trough that deposited good, ground ore into a concrete-lined pit.
From there it was taken to the nearby ore washer.
The dump ore was considered unusable long ago. Later, they discovered that by grinding and treating the ore with cyanide, gold and silver could be extracted. That process, called cyanization, revived the failing mining industry in Arizona and created a new boom.
Leftovers from the good ore were called tailings and there are mountainous piles of said ore all over the desert. Perhaps they still contain valuable minerals that could be extracted by the weekend hobbyist or entrepreneur.
Since any good minerals like gold or silver that might lie buried throughout the area as well, as any interesting relics concealed beneath the surface are metallic, metal detecting is certainly called for here.
As this site is on BLM land it should be legal to metal detect around the old mine site.
However, through my research I learned that new claims spring up all the time and many active mining claims do exist in the nearby area.
Thus any prospecting enthusiasts or metal detectorists should contact the BLM office at (928) 718-3700 in nearby Kingman for up-to-date information. Better safe than sorry detecting on somebodyâ€™s active claim.
Roughly .3 of a mile east of the Diana is the site of the Pink Eye Mine, formerly owned by J. Barnes & Company but, like the Diana, it is now inactive and on BLM land.
I found two shafts at this site. One still has old timbers at the surface and running vertically down the shaft. From the top, a wooden ladder can be seen descending into the black depths.
Attached to one vertical wall of timbers are ceramic insulators used to hold the ancient nob and tube wiring that provided electrical lighting, at least at the entrance and perhaps below as well.
Moving east along Chloride Road will take the traveler up Tennessee Road and into the village of Chloride (population 352, elevation 4,006 feet).
Chloride is a small, historical c. 1862 former mining town containing many nineteenth-century buildings and a lot of friendly people.
If one would care to remain for more than one day to continue his explorations, I can recommend Shepâ€™s Miners Inn and Yesterdayâ€™s Restaurant. Both are located at 9827 2nd St. Rooms are clean and efficient and the food is good and comparably priced.
The building is a partially restored relay station for the Butterfield Stage Line built about 1873.
In the 1930â€™s, Shepâ€™s was a gas station and part of the charm of Shepâ€™s today are the vintage gas pumps outside.
Word of warning here: Gas up before you leave Kingman because there are no gas stations in Chloride.
Next door to Yesterdayâ€™s is the wonderful Free Spirit Mercantile owned by Diane Silverman, who makes her own jewelry.
After a good lunch at Yesterdayâ€™s, turn right and proceed south along 2nd Street; go two blocks and turn right onto Rainbow Ave.
It is interesting to note that the colorful street names in Chloride were named after some of the more than 75 mines that used to operate in the area.
Rainbow turns right and becomes Midnight St. Look to your left for the headframe of the Silver Hill or Liberty Mine.
A former surface and underground mine, the Silver Hill used to produce lead, zinc, silver, mercury and copper and operated between 1901 and 1948.
Many old buildings from the heydays of the town can be seen if one walks or drives about.
For more information about the town and the area, visitors are wise to stop at the Mineshaft Market, one-half block east of 2nd St. on Tennessee Ave.
Looking east toward the Cerbat Mountains one can see the headframe of the old Tennessee Mine.
At more than 1,600 feet, this mine had the deepest shaft in the Cerbats; sadly, the Tennessee closed in the late â€˜40â€™s.
Entering the Mineshaft Market, visitors will find Native American jewelry, books, brochures, hats, shirts and groceries.
The market is also an Arizona Tourist Center and has a wealth of information about Mohave County.
Itâ€™s been a busy day exploring the desert and the old silver and gold mines, learning about times past and present in beautiful and interesting Mohave County.
Stay longer and see more, but if you really have to go, come back soon and see us again â€“ weâ€™d love to have you!
For more information about the author, visit his website at www.ron-ebner.com
"Chloride: Mining Gem of the Cerbat Mountains," by Roman Malachi, 1978, Mohave County Board of Supervisors, Kingman, Arizona 86401.
Rt. 66 Museum, 120 W. Andy Devine Ave., Kingman, Arizona 86401.
"4 Wheel Drive Roads of Mohave County, Arizona," by Luis & Paula Vega, 2000, Del Rayo International, Inc., PO Box 4045, Kingman, Arizona 86402.
"United States Treasure Atlas, Vol. 1," by Thomas P. Terry, 1985, Specialty Publishing Co., PO Box 1355, LaCrosse, WI 54602.
"Mines Handbook," 1931, p. 256.
Arizona Magma Mining Co. certificate, 1928.
"Mines Register," Mines Publications Inc., 1918.
Chapter 10, "Mineral Lands, Mines and Mining, Arizona As It Is," by Hiram C. Hodge, 1877.
Authorâ€™s personal experience.