Monday, June 23, 2014

Nemo Canyon and the Christmas Gift Mine

The tenth of April in 1908 saw Judge Frank G. Thisse of Skidoo wandering through Nemo Canyon on his way to Harrisburg from Wildrose. In the bottom of this wide valley he encountered silver 1500 feet north of the famed twenty-three mile Skidoo water pipeline. Soon enough, a rustic camp was set up to secure the claim. Silver ore assaying up to $200 per ton (in 1908 dollars) set off a small rush to the area, with neighboring hillsides being marked with claims and developed. Thisse's first claim became titled as the Nemo Mine, and it's eleven claims contained ore assaying up to $3,300 per ton, one of the best silver mines on the country at the time. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Marble Canyon

In the Southern Cottonwoods is one of the most significant canyons in the Death Valley area. Marble Canyon is a deep canyon that for centuries was the main thoroughfare from the comfortable summer retreats of Hunter Mountain to the sweltering desert below. Marble Canyon shows evidence of use by natives (The Timbsha-Shoshone) and more recent miners. Petroglyphs litter the lower narrows of the canyon and also are marks left by their modern counterparts telling directions and leaving evidence of past existence.
These lowest narrows (said to be the second narrows, which I don't personally agree with. The first narrows start from the time one exits the car just about up to the magnificent bathtub.) are not of Marble, and no marble can be found until the third narrows, much further up canyon. I find this canyon remarkable because it is one of those rare major canyons with no significant dry falls in the canyon bottom, excepting the unclimbable boulder jam just upstream of the bathtub. The third and fourth narrows are both made of marble, striped and banded. In the upper forks of the canyon lies Goldbelt, a gold and talc ghost town dating until as recently as the mid 50s. The story of Goldbelt will be covered in a later post most likely.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Butte Valley: Geologist Cabin

The Geologist's Cabin is one of the most picturesque and popular places in Death Valley. It was built in the 1930's, most believe by Asa Russell (of Russell's Camp Fame) or by a park Geologist. None are quite sure who built it, but the NPS Historic Resource Study tells that Russel built it according to his own word, so that is the law of the land. Russel built it in the 1930s and developed the spring below (Anvil Spring) in a stone-lined cistern and planted grapes there, which he claims to have had much success with. The spring is as flowing as it ever was, and the ground is quite muddy nearly all the way to the base of the cabin. The once-proud cottonwood tree is now dead and no more than a bare log sticking out of the verdant brush, but is quite photogenic when ravens perch on its scraggly limb.

The cabin itself is built of stone with two windows overlooking the expansive valley down below. It appears to have had three doors at different times, one of which contains the water system, another contains shelves and a small window. The cabin is frequented by off-roaders as an overnight stop and as a result the parking area has become dry rutted. In late 2013, the MIB (a cabin maintenance program, not a government agency) built a new outhouse above the cabin without the authority of the park service and of their own accord. Much controversy has been raised by various individuals and groups how in years future the septic plume could pollute the potable water below. Regardless of the outhouse, the Geologist Cabin will likely be a photogenic and comfortable spot for years to come.

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Panorama from the outhouse