80' Tunnel on the Western Face of Superstition Mountain

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80' Tunnel on the Western Face of Superstition Mountain

Post by silent hunter » Sun May 02, 2010 8:04 pm

"Back in the Day" when my wife used to go hiking with me, we came across a deep tunnel, high up on the Western face (Apache Junction side) of the main Superstition Mountain. I had told Jim Hatt about it a few weeks ago to see if he had ever seen it, and knew who dug it. He said he didn't know it existed, but was interested in seeing it, so we agreed to go look at it sometime.

Today was to be the day. We had gone out to dinner with the wives yesterday evening, and the subject came up over dinner. We agreed to hit the trail this morning and we did.

On the way to it we saw a Gila Monster (he disappeared into the bushes too fast to get a photo of) and a horned-toad. I did get some photos of the toad tho.

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The entrance to the mine was pretty small requiring a person to bend over to almost waist level to enter. I had never been all the way to the end of it before, so I couldn't tell Jim how far it went in when he asked. With nothing more than a nod of agreement, we pulled out our flashlights, squatted down low and entered the tunnel.

Inside it wasn't much bigger. No where through the entire length of it were we able to stand up straight.

Tunnel entrance
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(Yeah, I forgot my Sombrero today, Dang-It!)

Gypsy (Not sure if she likes this idea or not).
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Not sure what the red "day-glow" looking streak is on the right wall. We didn't notice it by the light of the flashlights. We never saw it until we viewed the photos on the computer at home. The camera flash must have made it glow.
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Jim and I agreed that it sure looked like an old Mexican working, based on the small size and shape of it, and the fact that there was no timbering in it anywhere.

About 30 feet in it started curving to the left rather sharply and began to smell a little Funky. A close inspection of the floor verified that some big cat had been in there many times before us.

We paused to consider if we wanted to go any farther in or not. Jim looked at his dog Gypsy who was right between us and said. "Gypsy doesn't seem to be concerned... She would be letting us know if there was any other living thing in this tunnel with us", so we continued on. The tunnel was still curving to the left at an angle that only allowed us to see about 15 feet ahead at any given time.

Eventually it straightened out, and we could see that we were only about 20 feet from the end of it. We estimated that the total length of it ran about 80 - 90 feet. It is hard to estimate distance when you cannot see all the way from one end to the other, and you are walking all bent over.

We did not see any quartz veins the entire length of the tunnel, but there was a lot of small quartz particles all over the walls and ceiling that sparkled when we passed the flashlight beams over them. There were a couple places along the tunnel were it widened out, and it looked like they had cut into some veins of some kind of yellowish sulfur material. We took some samples of it, but when we crushed and panned it later that day, we didn't find any gold in it. There was however a fair amount of small particles (visible only through a 10X loop) that looked like it could have been silver or platinum. Not really enough to make it worth while to carry enough of the rock out (many heavy trips) to collect a full ounce of it anyway.

Outside the tunnel in a nearby ravine we found the tailing pile for the tunnel. It pretty well blended in with the surroundings except for the color of it. There was a lot of red iron oxide and that yellowish sulfur stuff clearly visible in it. We had not noticed any of the red material in the tunnel. We assumed it had to be rained on and weathered to turn red like that? There were some pieces of quartz mixed in with the other tailings, but we never saw anything like it in the tunnel.

Tailing Pile
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On the way out we poked around the old Palmer mine dump for a while, and Jim found a piece of rock that he liked the looks of. When we later crushed and panned it, we got a nice long tail (about an inch) of fine gold in the pan. I intended to get a photo of it, but Jim laid the gold pan on a table in the sun to dry, and before we go back to it, a gust of wind picked up the pan, and sent it rolling the length of Jim's front porch.

Another Lost Gold story! :lol: You'll just have to take my word for it for now. But that's not the end of the story. We only crushed about 1/10th of the rock and I still have the rest of it. I may still get some photos of the gold in it.

Chunk of ore from the tailing pile at the Palmer Mine, that we got the gold out of.
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Kurt P.

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Re: 80' Tunnel on the Western Face of Superstition Mountain

Post by Vulture » Mon May 03, 2010 8:17 am

Two more cool finds, critters and a mine shaft. Looks like it was a great trip for the three of you.

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Re: 80' Tunnel on the Western Face of Superstition Mountain

Post by oroblanco » Wed May 05, 2010 9:34 pm

Cool finds amigos!

You may be able to "gauge" the date <somewhat> when the tunnel was driven by some clues; for one, old Mexican and Spanish mine tunnels were lit by candles, torches etc so left a lot of blackening on the ceiling from the soot (smoke); more modern day miners used things like acetlyene lamps, oil lamps and battery powered lights. Also the 'trash' left by the miners can help tell when they were working on it - old rusted cans are hard to pin a date on exactly but bottles, crockery etc can help. Rusted cans would likely mean it is after the time of the Spanish miners for food in tin cans didn't become available until after 1810 when they were invented, but it was some time until they came into world-wide use. I don't see much soot on the ceilings, which hints at a later (more modern) working time. Soot will stick to ceilings for a VERY long time - for instance in Lovelock Cave (Nevada) there is soot remaining on the ceiling from 2000 years ago!

Dynamite wasn't invented until 1867 so finding evidence of the use of dynamite would help pin the date to after that time, before this black powder and nitroglycerin were the "tools of the trade" for blasting.
Oroblanco

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Re: 80' Tunnel on the Western Face of Superstition Mountain

Post by cubfan64 » Thu May 06, 2010 5:24 am

Those are great photos guys!! It's crazy how many of those kinds of tunnels etc... are found throughout the Superstitions that regulars like Jim haven't heard of.

It seems like it would take a pretty good amount of work to tunnel that far back - not an easy feat!

I should have you guys bottle up some of the yellow "dirt" and send it to me - I can have some co-workers analyze it and see if we can determine what the components of it are. I don't work in a geological lab, but we do have instruments that give information on crystalline structures as well as elemental content.

Jim Hatt

Re: 80' Tunnel on the Western Face of Superstition Mountain

Post by Jim Hatt » Thu May 06, 2010 8:18 pm

oroblanco wrote:I should have you guys bottle up some of the yellow "dirt" and send it to me -
Paul,
Email me your mailing address, and I will ship you a couple pounds of that yellow stuff I cut right from the vein, (about 60 feet back in the tunnel). We brought out a large piece of it weighing about 6 pounds. When we got home I ran it through a Jaw Crusher, and then screened it down with 1/4 inch screen, so we could run the small stuff through a pulverizer. I still have a couple pounds of the larger stuff that the 1/4 inch screen caught. I'm pretty sure it has got either Silver or Platinum in it.

Roy,
You mentioned candles... I found something way back in the mine that I believe is an old candle holder. Looking at it, I can't imagine anything else it could be. But I have never actually seen an old candle holder before so I'm only guessing. We got all interested in crushing and panning the rocks we brought out, and I forgot all about it until just now. It was still laying out on my porch by the gold pans.

What does it look like to you?

Tom K.
Have you ever seen anything like this that came from the Goldfield or Palmer Mine area? If you get over this way, you can stop in and look at it. I have it sitting on my desk. After you have looked at it, I'll take it up to the museum, and give it to Larry to toss in the old miner display.

Jim

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Re: 80' Tunnel on the Western Face of Superstition Mountain

Post by oroblanco » Fri May 07, 2010 7:57 pm

Hola amigo Jim,

That definitely looks like a candle holder to me, but not like any mining candle holder I have ever seen; the type used by Spaniards, Mexicans and early Anglo miners were made of wrought iron, a bit like a tent-peg with a sort of loop on one end, so that it could be tapped into a crack in the rock or right into soft earth; like this one on Ebay but there are different variations of length, loop etc

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<from http://cgi.ebay.com/Antique-Mining-Mine ... 2c545bbb3c>

...so I have no idea what that type of candle holder is doing deep in a tunnel, as it looks more like the type used for inside of homes/buildings. Strange! Thank you for sharing the pix.
Roy

Jim Hatt

Re: 80' Tunnel on the Western Face of Superstition Mountain

Post by Jim Hatt » Fri May 07, 2010 9:00 pm

Hi Roy,

Yes... I can see how the one in your photo would be much better suited for use in a mine. Tom K. was over and looked at the one I have today. He agreed that it looked like a candle holder, or something someone had adapted for use as one. It's not like anything he had ever seen before, so it must not have been very common.

Maybe I'll just leave it on my desk and use if for an ashtray.... :lol:

Thanks for your reply,

Jim

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Re: 80' Tunnel on the Western Face of Superstition Mountain

Post by cubfan64 » Sat May 08, 2010 7:32 am

Can you tell how the middle piece is attached to the rest of it? If it's a rivet or something like that, you might be able to try to date it that way. Other than that, I have no clue what it is either.

Jim Hatt

Re: 80' Tunnel on the Western Face of Superstition Mountain

Post by Jim Hatt » Sat May 08, 2010 8:08 am

It is attached with a rivet Paul. The rivet is clean and shinny on the bottom, but it is not aluminum, because a magnet is attracted stronger to it, than it is to the rusted metal around it.

Here is a photo of the bottom.
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Closeup of top of rivet
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Closeup of bottom of rivet
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Re: 80' Tunnel on the Western Face of Superstition Mountain

Post by Mrs.Oroblanco » Sat May 08, 2010 10:48 pm

Cool pics!

There is one thing you can say about prospectors and miners, etc., of yesteryear and present times - they have always been great at using materials available for what they need. A tin can has had (and still does) millions of uses, as well as every other "tool" that happens to be lying around. "Necessity being the mother of invention" was never more true than for miners and prospectors!

Beth (Mrs.O)

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