Mystery Mine, Panamint Mountains

One of the many things that I like about Death Valley National Park is its enormous expanse of open terrain. Its enormous swath of desert and mountain wilderness ensures that you will have solitude to appreciate the park's many amazing geologic features; and it also ensures that you will have the opportunity to have an adventure, and if you're lucky, the chance to discover things that have been lost. For example, earlier this year, when thepeakseeker and I were attempting the Shorty's Well Route (Trip Report here) to the top of Telescope Peak, we came across an abandoned mine. While abandoned mines are common in Death Valley due to the park's mining history, the location of this mine was unexpected. We had backpacked into the Panamint Mountains from the Badwater Basin; and had passed Shorty's Well, and Shorty's Mine. From the mine, we had followed a foot trail which had gradually become steeper deep into the mountains. At the end of the first day of backpacking, we had traveled ten miles from the nearest "road"; and were truly off the grid.

We made camp (pictured above) on a mountainous spur as night began to fall. As we relaxed and looked about, we saw debris strewn on part of the nearby mountain face - mining debris. Since we had nothing else to do but relax, we talked about it, and tried to pick out where the mine was. As night was falling, we thought we saw the mine shaft - but couldn't be sure. The next morning, as we traversed through several fresh inches of snow, we passed various pieces of mining equipment we had seen the night before - boards, giant gas tanks - before ending up at the mine entrance as the sun rose. At this point, we were at approximately 8500 to 9000 feet of elevation. We were nowhere near a road - in fact, the nearest road was at this point, eleven (11) to twelve (12) miles away. The equipment surrounding the mine was heavy - obviously mid to late twentieth century - and could not have been brought by foot alone. And, unlike other mines in Death Valley, this mine was still open and unsealed. We spent a few minutes poking around, and I even ventured into the shaft a short distance before coming back out. Nothing, however, provided us with any clues as to whose mine this had been, why it had been constructed there, or how it had been constructed there. It was a bona fide mystery. 

Since our return, I've wondered about this mine a few times - what inspired a man (or a company) to place this mine there - in the middle of nowhere in the mid-twentieth century. The terrain around it (as pictured) is truly rugged; and in my opinion, any mining effort there would have been absolutely brutal. I've also wondered if the mine has a name - or if anyone knows about it. So, I'll turn this over to you, readers, followers, and people who have stumbled across my site. Does anyone know about this mine? It's in the middle of the Panamint Range, at 8,700 feet, and slightly below Telescope Peak. If you have any information about it, feel free to post here. And, for those aspiring adventurers, let me again say, that Death Valley is a great spot to explore, because you never know what you'll find. Who knows, this could have even been one of the entrances to the "secret" tunnels of Death Valley!