Another green monster adventure. Today we headed to Wickenburg and took Constellation Road east to some historic mining country. Back in the early 1900’s there was a mining town called Constellation out here; probably near the Monte Cristo Mine. It had a post office from 1901 to 1939 and about a dozen other buildings. Nothing remains at least nothing is visible from the road.
This area was known as the Black Rock Mining area and there were some good gold and silver mines that were worked starting way back in 1877 and continued until the 1930’s. After that apparently only small scale operations continued which is the case at the present time.
Constellation road starts out as pavement for a short distance from town then turns into improved dirt and generally follows the bottom of a wash for the first few miles. Then there is a fork and you need to turn left and go up the hill. From there just follow the signs to the Williams Ranch which apparently is a modern day working dude ranch. We lucked out because the road was being maintained today so was in great shape. It climbs up a few steep hills and is narrow with lots of turns though.
About 9 miles from Wickenburg the road tops a rise and down to the left are the remains of a mine which appears to have been quite extensive as there are still several rock walls and stone building remains and at least one mine shaft. It may be the Unida Mine and if so it is for sale for a measly $788,000. The owner claims there is about 400,000 tons of ore left to be mined here and it runs anywhere from ½ oz. to 2oz. of gold per ton. Now is that a bargain or what?
Continue down to the bottom of the hill and up and over the next one and you come to the Monte Cristo Mine. A steel inclined headframe is still in place plus the hoist house and another tin roofed building down below. This mine goes down nearly 1200 ft. with 12 levels of workings for a total of over 4 miles of underground tunnels. I read that. I only looked in from the top. Abandoned mines are dark and spooky and the bogeyman lives in them. Probably some zombies do to. This mine produced gold and silver. The miners even found some native silver here. This was worked from 1915 to 1926. In 1976 the Goldex Company took a stab at reopening the Monte Cristo. They pumped the water out down to the 800’ level and then quit. I suspect they ran into zombies.
The town of Constellation was supposedly near here. Then it was up and over the next hill for the green monster where we found the Gold Bar Mine. This is private property with a locked gate so you just get to look at the head frame and hoist room and some other ramshackle buildings from across the draw. There used to be a stamp mill here and the foundations are still in place. Luck was with us because the mine owner came down the road and talked with us. He invited us to go a bit further down the hill to another locked gate and take a short hike down a gully to the Glory Hole. This is the original mine entrance and it is impressive. The mine tunnels are sealed off now from this glory hole but you can still walk in about fifty feet into this huge cavern.
The Gold Bar was also known as the O’Brien mine and it produced a lot of gold from the late 1800’s to 1935. They put in the stamp mill in 1901. It was expanded in 1915 from 300 plus feet deep to 700’. Since 1935 it has been worked only on a small scale and probably intermittently. The owner says there is still lots of gold. By the way, he buys up old mines and cleans them up and resells them. This is hard rock mining meaning you have to bust up rocks to powder and then get the very small particles of gold out. Doesn’t sound easy or much fun.
On the way out we pulled up a gully for a picnic and took some sand samples as long as we were there. Panned that out back home and sure enough—GOLD! Okay there were one or two microscopic specks in the pan that looked like they might be gold. We may go file a claim; if it isn’t already claimed which might be likely as active mining claims abound in the area.
This concluded our tour of Constellation road. Apparently it continues on past the Williams Ranch and all the way to the Hassayampa River. We didn’t check that out. Instead we backtracked to a fork in the road and took a road that went cross country to the castle Hot Springs road. I feel another article coming on… stay tuned.
Will was here 3/30/2016