Friday, February 11, 2011

Gold Mines of Gold Butte

I have a friend who loves historic Gold Mines… well, all mines actually!   He's never heard about a mine that he didn't want to go visit. To look at them, to walk around them, to explore them and photograph them. He loves to drive his side-by-side up any old mine road to as close as he can get… even if it's straight up.   He's been to so many mines, and has so many mine photographs, we kid him that he must be writing a coffee-table book about them.

And he has chosen a pretty good place to snowbird because hundreds of the things are within a day-trip of his winter-time home. There are more than 40 claims on Gold Butte alone which have historically taken gold in some amount. None, unfortunately, are still in operation; and, as we have previously shown, the BLM is taking great pains to eradicate them from the face of the earth.

Today's map is a neat "network link" that I found at a website ( which will display all the mining claims in a Google Earth viewport which have been known to contain at least some gold.   [A free Google Earth file of this route is available at: Gold Mines of Gold Butte.]

Of course this map begins at the viewport for the 'grandaddy' of all gold mines on Gold Butte – that's right: Gold Butte Mine. The Gold Butte Backcountry Byway goes right by the former town of Gold Butte and the mine was in the monzogranite hills up behind the town.

As you probably know, gold is obtained, at least in some quantities, from many types of mines – especially copper and silver; so, not all the mine names will have "gold" in them; but, the waypoints which will be plotted are all registered mine claims that have been known to contain at least some gold.

A clever thing about this map is that as long as the checkbox next to "All Gold Claims" is checked it will refresh with new claims any time you change the field of view in Google Earth. So you can move any place in Nevada and see Gold Claims. Or Utah… or Arizona… or California, or Colorado… you get the picture.

"MineCache" has apparently taken the USGS, or the US Department of Mines or some such database and loaded it onto their servers so that it will generate Google Earth KML files of locations in the U.S.. The caveat being that you must be hovering below 100 miles and it will only display 200 at a time.

If you are above 100 miles, you will see a folder labeled "zoom in closer." And, if there are more than 200 mines in your view the folder name will change to "Zoom in for more."

Once you have found a mine you'd like to know more about that can be accomplished as well. You will notice that each waypoint has a different Icon for what type of mine it is. If you click on the Icon, a web page will open which gives you more information.

For example there must have been two claims for the Gold Butte Mine. One is shown more toward the top of the mountain and listed as an "occurance" while the other which we are more familiar with is shown to be: Operation Type: "Underground"; Development Status: "Prospect"; and Primary commodities include: "Gold." The other is shown as "Unknown" type; "Occurence" Development status; and, Primary Commodities were "Gold."

If there is a photo of the mine, or if anyone has posted a comment aobut it, you will see those as well – although I haven't seen any such things on any of the mines that I've looked at.

Even for riders who frequent The Butte, there are suprises. For example, just down the road from Gold Butte Mine there is the "Golden Mine" – or at least WAS. It was a surface, prospect, gold mine and it looks as though people, including yours truly, have trundled along by it for years without even knowing it once was there.

Of course, should you want to go visit one of them, you can easily obtain the latitude and longitude for all these mines; both, from the Google Earth map and from the pop up web page as well.

And, keep in mind, not all of The Butte's mines are listed on this rendition – only those which produced gold - either as primary or secondary commodities. For example, Radio Crystal Mine - which is immediately west of the Treasure Hawk Mine isn't shown. One surmizes that it was because it didn't return Gold.

The Treasure Hawk Mine is shown as a: "Surface-Underground, Gold" mine and its Development Status is: "Plant." Of course that was as of last year. This year it's just a bulldozed flat patch of dirt.

Nevada Mica Mine didn't make the list; but, "Ole" and "Big Thing Tunnel" did. The fact that the map also shows a second "Treasure Hawk Mine and Mill" quite a ways down the Butte makes me wonder if an occasional error hasn't slipped in.

More north there is shown the "Po' Boy Mine" along the Virgin River and one of our old favorites: the "Key West Mine" up in South Valley. And on Bunkerville Flats (East Flats) there are two "Mills" listed: the White Park R.D. Mill and the Aggandize Mining Company Mill. Wherever they ended up is anybodies guess.

I am opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position.”
Samuel Clemmens, Mark Twain
For those of you down by Lake Havasu – you've got a real treat if you're an old mine buff. There are a lot more than 200 mines viewable from the 100 mile level above your riding area and the same goes for the mountains around Salt Lake City and Denver and Phoenix and Barstow and Reno!

It sort of makes one feel like one has missed out on something!

Learn A Little More

One of the good things about getting older, perhaps the only thing, is that you no longer have to learn history – you just have to remember it!   Ronald Regan described George Burns as akin to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison… he was friends with them all!

If anyone would remember the mining era we've been talking about – it would be George – in the Good Ol' Bad Ol' Days!


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