Titus Canyon

Titus Canyon has it all, rugged mountains, colorful rock formations, a small ghost town, mines, petroglyphs, wildlife, rare plants and spectacular canyon narrows as a grand finale! Titus Canyon is the most popular back-country road in Death Valley National Park and just plain fun to run.  The canyon is easily accessible from Stovepipe wells and Furnace Creek.

Titus Canyon, a narrow canyon drive in Death Valley National Park, CA
Titus Canyon, a narrow canyon drive in Death Valley National Park, CA

Although the Grapevine Mountains were uplifted relatively recently, most of the rocks that make up the range are over half a billion years old. The gray rocks lining the walls of the western end of the Canyon are Cambrian limestone. These ancient Paleozoic rocks formed at a time when the Death Valley area was submerged beneath tropical seas. By the end of the Precambrian, the continental edge of North America had been planed off by erosion to a gently rounded surface of low relief. The rise and fall of the Cambrian seas periodically shifted the shoreline eastward, flooding the continent, then regressed westward, exposing the limestone layers to erosion. The sediments have since been upturned, up folded (forming anticlines), down folded (forming synclines) and folded back onto themselves (forming recumbent folds).

Leadfield Gost Town, Death Valley, California
Leadfield Gost Town, Death Valley, California

Although some of the limestone exposed in the walls of the canyon originated from thick mats of algae (stromatolites) that thrived in the warm, shallow Death Valley seas, most of the gray limestone shows little structure. Thousands of feet (hundreds of meters) of this limey goo were deposited in the Death Valley region. Similar limestone layers may be seen at Lake Mead National Recreation Area and at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
At one of the bends in the canyon, megabreccia can be seen.

Leadfield was an unincorporated community, and historic mining town found in Titus Canyon in Death Valley National Park.

Titus Canyon Trail Map

Lost Burro Mine

Founded in 1907 when Bert Shively picked up a rock to throw at some stray burros and discovered gold, the Lost burro Mine is a great destination in Death Valley. The mine was operated from 1907 to the 1970s, with its greatest production of gold being from 1912 – 1917. The road into the mine is just 1.1 mile from Hunter Mountain road located in Death Valley National Park.  The trail is very easy to pass and suitable for most stock SUVs, although it does get narrow in two places.

The Lost Burrow Mine is located off Hunter Mountain Road in Death Valley National Park, CA
The Lost Burrow Mine is located off Hunter Mountain Road in Death Valley National Park, CA

As you approach the site, there is evidence of human occupation and the large amount of tin cans and artifacts gradually increase the closer you get to the mine site.  There is a long history of haunting and curses place upon people who remove artifacts from the location.  There are at least four structures still standing at the site.  The main cabin, a storage cabin, outhouse and the mine located high above on a cliff.  You can enter the cabin and storage cabin but posted warnings of Hantavirus warn of the potential danger.

The Lost Burrow Mine
The Lost Burrow Mine

The Upper Mill

The upper mill site is accessible using a steep short trail and well worth the effort.  The structure appears to be reinforced with guy wires to help maintain its state.  Much of the pulley system remains intact and the terrain and remote location reminds us of what these men endured to survive in this location.

The cabin found at the Lost Burrow Mine is in good shape.
The cabin found at the Lost Burrow Mine is in good shape.

There is evidence of many people returning removed items in the hopes of removing the curse. There are two buildings at the site with the Mill located just to the North.  Two short hikes to the hills above offer amazing views of the Racetrack Valley and Hunter Mountain.

The Lost Burrow Mine cabin interior
The Lost Burrow Mine cabin interior

Lost Burro Mine Video

Lost Burro Mine Trail Map

Ubehebe Lead Mine

The Ubehebe Lead Mine is located just west of the Racetrack Playa Road off of the Bonnie Claire Road.  Discovered in 1906, the mine is located on the west side of the Racetrack valley just south of Teakettle junction.    The site was started as a copper mine and during to coarse of its operation would produce lead, copper, gold and zinc.

Ubehebe Lead Mine Trail sign located just off of the Racetrack, Death Valley, CA
Ubehebe Trail sign located just off of the Racetrack, Death Valley, CA

In February, 1908 a large eight foot thick vein of lead ore which was perceived to run through the mountain changed the mines name and destiny.  In order to prepare, the site hauled in 26,000 lbs of provisions to feed and supply a crew of eight men for the duration of the summer.   When processed the order produced significantly lower than expected.  The lack of water, remote location and less than desirable returns caused production of the Ubehebe Lead Mine to be sporadic.

Ubehebe Mine with tramway visible at the top of the hill, Death Valley, CA
Ubehebe Mine with tramway visible at the top of the hill, Death Valley, CA

The site currently has a main adit which is blocked off about 10 feet inside of the entrance.  Several other adits are located up the hillside and all are blocked to entry at this time.  There are a few collapsed buildings of light construction that have given their all against the harsh environment and several foundations are also evident.  An aerial tramway was built to the northern works and a single tramway cable is still suspended and connected to tramway on the ridge above.

Exploring the Ubehebe Mine tails pile, Death Valley, CA
Exploring the Ubehebe Mine tails pile, Death Valley, CA

The entire area has undergone extensive washing: bits of rail and pipe sections lie about near the mine, as do crockery fragments, pieces of glass, and tin cans that have worked down from the camp site. The several dumps nearby contain nothing of historical significance.

Looking back at the jeep, Death Valley National Park, CA
Looking back at the jeep, Death Valley National Park, CA

Ubehebe Mine Trail Map

Death Valley Campgrounds

Emigrant

About 2150 foot elevation.   Typical campground amenities with more services to the north-east at Stovepipe Wells Village. Dirt at campsites and pavement at picnic area.…

Eureka Dunes

Eureka Dunes are a small localize sand dunes formation with Death Valley National Monument. The dunes are located north of Ubehebe crater and With roughly…
Homestake, Death Valley

Homestake Dry Camp

Homestake Dry Camp - A primative campsite at Racetrack Valley The Homestake Dry camp is a primitive campground located in Racetrack valley inside Death Valley…

Mahogany Flat

Mahogany Flat Campground lies at 8,200 feet in the Panamint Mountain Range. It provides access to hiking and backpacking, as well as mountaineering opportunities. The…

Mesquite Springs Campground

Mesquite Springs Campground located near Scotty's Castle in Death Valley Mesquite Springs is a campground in Death Valley National Park, Located just a few short…

Stovepipe Wells

Stovepipe Wells Campgound is located in Stovepipe wells just off the 190 highway in Death Valley National Park. Located about 25 miles away from Furnace…

Sunset Campground

Sunset Campground is another large, flat parking lot campground primary for RV camping. It is with a mile of the Furnace Creek Ranch Resort and…

Texas Springs Campground

Texas Springs Campground is another large, flat parking lot campground primary for RV camping. It is with a mile of the Furnace Creek Ranch Resort…

Thorndike Campground

Thorndike campground is located at 7,400 feet in the Panamint Mountains and is accessible to high clearance vehicles only. Depending on road conditions, 4-wheel drive…

Wildrose

Open All Year Located at 4,100 feet in the Panamint Mountains near Death Valley. Featuring 23 sites, with tables, fireplaces, and pit toilets. Drinking water…

Death Valley Points of Interest

Ballarat, California - Marriedtofilm at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Malafaya using CommonsHelper.

Ballarat California

Ballarat, California Located in Inyo County, Ballarat California is a ghost town which supposedly has a few residents living their dream within the town. Ballarat…
Crowells Mill under construction in Chloride City, CA about 1915

Chloride City California

Chloride City California is located within Death Valley National Park and Inyo County, California. The town arose out of silver discoveries in nearby Chloride Cliff…
Darwin Falls is a nice hike near Death Valley National Park, CA

Darwin Falls

The waterfalls of Darwin are located on the western edge of Death Valley National Park near the settlement of Panamint Springs, California. Although there exists…
Frank "Shorty" Harris

Frank “Shorty” Harris

Frank Harris was a prospector, desert rat and perhaps the best known character in western mining history. He looked the part, often travelling the desert…
Greenwater Mining District, CA 1906

Greenwater California

In 1904, a copper strike near Greenwater Spring and ensuing rush to profit caused the formation of Greenwater in Inyo County, California. Originally known by…
Cashier Mill ruin and Pete Aguereberry, 1916. From Dane Coolidge Collection,

Harrisburg California

Harrisburg California is a ghost town is located at 4987 feed above sea level in Inyo County and currently part of Death Valley National Park.…
Leadfield Sign, Death Valley, California

Leadfield California

Leadfield California is a ghost town located in Inyo County and Death Valley National Park and found on the Titus Canyon Trail. The town boom…
U2's Joshua Tree - 2016

One Tree Hill, A trip to the U2 Joshua Tree

A trip to the U2 Joshua Tree brought back a life time of memories. There was never a point in time that I was not…
The Racing stones.

Racetrack Valley

TeaKettle Junction lets you know you are starting to get close to the Racetrack. Racetrack valley is a rough graded road which departs the Ubehebe…
Rhyolite, Nevada photo by Destination4x4.com

Rhyolite Nevada

Rhyolite is a ghost town location just outside of the Eastern edge of Death Valley National monument in Nye country, Nevada.  Founded in 1904 by…

Scottys Castle

Scotty's Castle located in Grapevine Canyon in Death Valley. Named after Walter Scott AKA "Death Valley Scotty", Scottys Castle or the Death Valley Ranch is…
Skidoo, CA 1907

Skidoo California

Skidoo California was famous in the first decade of the 20th century when gold had been found in Inyo County and the town established in…
The Arargosa Opera House is located in Death Valley Junction, California.

The Amargosa Opera House

Recently, on a whim, my wife and I loaded up the jeep and opt to just explore the desert West of our home town of…
Ubehebe Mine with tramway visible at the top of the hill, Death Valley, CA

Ubehebe Lead Mine

The Ubehebe Lead Mine is located just west of the Racetrack Playa Road off of the Bonnie Claire Road.  Discovered in 1906, the mine is…

Skidoo California

Skidoo California was famous in the first decade of the 20th century when gold had been found in Inyo County and the town established in 1905. The towns existence was support by the output and economy driven by the gold mines. Within a decade the town was left deserted abandoned. At this time few structures remain and access to the mines are closed to prevent accidents.

Skidoo, CA 1907
Skidoo California, 1907

Right here on the border line between California and Nevada, just a few miles from arid within speaking distance of Nevada’s big, bonanza gold camps of Goldfield, Rhyolite, Tonopah, California promises to give birth to the most wonderful gold mines America has yet produced . . . . Here the golden goddess is again singing her siren song of enchantment and California is again beckoning to the world with a finger of gold: and the world is listening, and looking, and coming–TO SKIDOO!

Rhyolite Herald, 4 January 1907

Skidoo, originally known as Hoveck, is typical of mining towns, which flourished so long as the mines continued to produce. The small town of Hoveck was named for Matt Hoveck, who managed the Skidoo mine. The town was named Skidoo in 1907. The name Skidoo was derived from the slang phrase “23 Skidoo” which was quite popular at this time.

	Cook's horse-drawn wagon at Death Valley's gold mining camp, Skiddo.
Cook’s horse-drawn wagon at Death Valley’s gold mining camp, Skiddo.

The Skidoo Mine operated from 1906 and 1917. During operation the mine produced about 75,000 ounces of gold, which would have been worth about 1.6 million dollars. The mill in Skidoo was the only desert mill which operated complete using water. The water to power the mill was piped in from Telescope Peak was a feat of engineering and work of this still scars the landscape.

The Skidoo Mine is located 65 miles north of Trona, California, at
6500 ft. elevation. The property was established in 1906; the mill
erected in 190?. The mill burned and was reconstructed in 1913.
Owner: Skidoo Mines Co., Skidoo, CA. C. W. Cross, president, and
Crynski , superintendent .

Two systems of quartz veins occur in a pegmatite granite. The main
vein system strikes M-SE and the other E~W. The veins average from
18″ to 2 ‘ in width, with a maximum of 4’.

The ore is free milling and values average about $15.00 per ton. Ore
is hauled to the mill through tunnels. The mill equipment consists
of: ten 850-lb. stamps, five 1150-lb. stamps and amalgamation tables.
Table tailings run to the cyanide plant and precipitated in zinc boxes.
The mill is operated by water conveyed in an 8″ pipeline 21 miles
from Telescope Peak. The pipe was installed at a cost of over $200,000
35 men were employed at the mine mill. Total production to date over
$1,500,000,

California State Mining Bureau’s “Report of State Mineralogist,” 1915-16, Report XV:
Rare Air Photograph of Skidoo California Taken from the air in 1923
Rare Air Photograph of Skidoo California Taken from the air in 1923

The remains of the town of Skidoo are located within Death Valley National Monument and Inyo County.

The fifteen-stamp mill built by the Skidoo Mines Company is a rare surviving example of an early 20th-century gravity-feed system for separating gold from its ore.

Skidoo Trail Map

Resouces

Morning Star Mine

Located in the Ivanpah Mountains, the Morning Star Mine is a gold / silver mine located near to California / Nevada border near Mountain Pass. The mining district enjoys amazing views and lots of wild life and wild flowers during the spring of each year, which are easily accessible from a grade dirt road. Numerous lower traffic side trails will allow access of other places to explore.

A remote side road leading a old mine site in the Ivanpah Mountains near the Morning Star Mine.
A remote side road leading a old mine site in the Ivanpah Mountains near the Morning Star Mine.

The location was first worked in 1907 and was known as the Clansman mine. Operations were initially quite small and in 1931 only two miners were on location. In 1937 the owner J. B. Mighton and Brown optioned the property to Richard Malik, who worked the location significantly until 1938.

The Morning Star Mine Cutoff Road.
The Morning Star Mine Cutoff Road.

Erle P. Halliburton worked the mine with ten men, starting in April of 1939. Halliburton known today, as the founder of his name sake company, Halliburton Oil. Mr. Halliburton made his fortune in Duncan Oklahoma where he borrowed a wagon, a team of mules and a pump, he built a wooden mixing box and started an oil well cementing business. The Halliburton efforts at this site where forced closed in 1942 by the War Productions Board order to close gold mining for the war effort.

Erle P Hallibuton 1940 - SMU Central University Libraries @ Flickr CommonsSouthern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library
Erle P Hallibuton 1940 – SMU Central University Libraries @ Flickr CommonsSouthern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library

Following Halliburton’s death in 1957, the property was acquired by the Vanderbilt Gold Corporation in 1964, where upon the location was drilled and sampled. Fifteen years later, in 1979 the company finally complete a capital raise the in Morning Star mine was again on operation as an underground mine utilizing trackless mining equipment and the ore processed in nearby Vanderbilt, California. Due to the time period, this was probably the Goldome Mill and not within the town of Vanderbilt.

The modern Morning Star Mine site is not much to look at and a locked gate prevents access.
The modern Morning Star Mine site is not much to look at and a locked gate prevents access.

After just three years of operations, mining operations were again halted in 1983, due to the dropping price of Gold, however underground explorations continued with long hole drilling and testing. From 1984 – 1993 saw increased gold and silver production to the amount of about 75,000 tons per month. Water supply problems plagued the operation, however, with the price of gold between $350 and $500 per once the Vanderbilt operation made a return.

A vertical mine shaft is protected by a metal grate.
A vertical mine shaft is protected by a metal grate nearby the Morning Star Mine.

The mine was finally closed in 1993 after the gold prices dropped and several environmental violations and animal deaths caused by cyanide poisoning. With the creation of the Mojave Nation Preserve in 1994 from the California Desert Protection act, the NPS inherited an environmental problem and it slowly continues to clean up the site. At this point, access to the location is blocked with a locked gate. It was noted that several building and a milling foundations remain from this relatively modern mining endeavor.

A horizontal shaft in the Ivanpah Mountains.
A horizontal shaft in the Ivanpah Mountains.

Resources