Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Harquahala Mine

Gold was first discoverd in the Harquahala mountains by Spanish explorers in the 1760's. The range has been home to many mines as well as the Harquahala Smithsonian Observatory on Harquahala Mountain itself. Our destination for the day was the Harquahala Mine located on Harquahala Mine road, south of the town of Salome, Arizona. We read about this site in James R. Mitchell's Gem Trails of Arizona and decided to check it out. 

Upon arival we noticed that the cemetery for the town that sprung up around the Harquahala mine is still surprizingly intact and, oddly enough, cared for. The town itself, if you could really call it that, is survived by a few remanats of buildings and other mining operations. There are mine shafts all over the area, some covered, some not. We explored the ruins and the area for a bit before heading up the hill.

The tailings here are rife with pretty samples of chrysocolla and malachite. I also found several small samples of dioptase crystals dotted on the host rock. These samples, for the most part, are not particularly showy pieces. The chrysocolla and malachite in most of the samples we looked at ran in thin veins filling fractures in the host rock. There are visible veins in the exposed rock faces that looked like they might produce some interesting samples with some chisle work. It was rather hot and we didn't make much of an effort to dig too deeply into things this day. 

This area is still active gold territory, there were marked claims all over the place, and if you decide to visit this place, please keep several things in mind: 

Respect the claims, they will usually be marked with posts, and usually have some sort information posted. People take their claims seriously.

Beware! There are mine shafts all over this area, and there is the very real danger of dying in a horrible way. Stay away from obvious mine shafts, as they are mostly very old and the ground around the shafts can be unstable. As for the not so obvious mine shafts, pay attention to your footing please. 

Finally, please be respectful of the historic buildings and remains.