Abandoned Mines on Route 66

Abandoned Mines on Route 66 ABANDONED SPACES
Abandoned Mines on Route 66. I found two horizontal mines and strolled through both of them. The first only went back about 20 feet. The second mine extended several hundred feet and connected with a tight vertical chasm I had seen earlier.

After crossing into Arizona I exited the I-40 and drove northward along a winding, mountainous stretch of Route 66 toward the mining ghost town of Oatman. It was a perfect day to enjoy Arizona’s beautiful landscapes.


Abandoned Mines on Route 66

It had rained a bit in the early morning, and low clouds still hugged the mountains.  I stopped to check out an old limo parked nearby.


Abandoned Mines on Route 66

On the way to Oatman I saw a random Christmas tree on the side of a hill, so I stopped to investigate. The tree stood directly behind a vertical mine shaft, which was unmarked and wide open. Yellow caution tape and orange cones surrounded another nearby shaft. Vertical mine shafts scare the heck out of me because they are usually very deep and narrow. The openings are even with the ground and easy to overlook if you’re not watching where you’re going. I thought about how a photographer, lining up a shot, might take a few steps backwards and end up tumbling into the abyss.


Abandoned Mines on Route 66

I stood atop the hill, looking out over miles of rocky terrain when I noticed a distant heap of mine tailings (discarded fragments of rock that are left over after the valuable minerals have been separated out). Tailings are usually found in large heaps outside of the mines from which they were excavated. I hadn’t seen any mines, other than the two by the Christmas tree, and hoped the tailings might lead me to a horizontal mine I could walk into.  
The tailing pile was much farther than it looked, and I climbed up and down some steep rocky hills to get to it. I happened upon a discarded couch but resisted the urge to stop and rest. 


Abandoned Mines on Route 66

I reached the tailings and found that they came from another vertical mine shaft. The site was littered with rusty metal scraps from long-gone equipment and the remnants of collapsed wooden support structures.

The hill offered a good view of the surrounding area, including several more mines and a run-down homestead that appeared occupied. I climbed down the hill and saw signs warning people away from the homestead, but not the mines. Not wanting to get kicked off the land, I kept my distance. 


Abandoned Mines on Route 66

I was tired from crossing the rough terrain with the sun beating down on me, but my adrenaline was pumping so I roamed the countryside, determined to check out every mine within eyeshot. Most were vertical shafts accompanied by the remains of wooden headframes and rusted metal junk.


Abandoned Mines on Route 66

I found two horizontal mines and strolled through both of them. The first only went back about 20 feet. The second mine extended several hundred feet and connected with a tight vertical chasm I had seen earlier. Near the end of my hike, I came to a mine with a warning sign posted at its entrance.


Abandoned Mines on Route 66

On the way back to the car, I passed a sign left by the same people who had put up the Christmas tree that caused me to stop in the first place. It was a fitting bookend to my hike. 


Abandoned Mines on Route 66

I also happened past a few wild burros. One stared at me, occasionally making loud noises, which I assumed were meant to intimidate me. I kept a respectful distance. There are many wild burros in the area, descended from those kept by miners as pack animals. 


Abandoned Mines on Route 66
Abandoned Mines on Route 66
Abandoned Mines on Route 66
Abandoned Mines on Route 66
gregoryhooqe
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