In the first issue of Jerome’s Notebook (December 1999), we journeyed to the Red Cloud Mine in Arizona. While the road continued on beyond the Red Cloud and eventually to the Silver Clip Mine, we left that trip for another time. This is that time, and our adventure this month will be to the Clip Mine.
The Clip Mine is known by both names...the Silver Clip, because it is in the Silver mining district. Since the maps and most research sources call it just the Clip Mine, we shall too. Our adventure starts around the middle of 1968.
We had arrived by driving North on U.S. 95, from Yuma, Arizona. Our road wound between the Laguna Mountains on our left and the Gila (pronounced Hee-lah) Mountains on our right. Soon we saw the Yuma Test Station coming into view, on our left. We passed the first entrance and continued North for another 2 ˝ miles where we saw a sign pointing to Martinez Lake
That road ambled along Northwestward for 10 ˝ miles to Fisher’s Landing. Near the Landing, on our right was a dirt road signed the Red Cloud Mine road. A short distance up this road, we pulled off onto the “desert pavement” and made camp. Larry unhooked his dune buggy from my truck’s dock bumper and parked along side. (photo #1).
It had been a long drive. I was living in Los Angeles at the time, and drove down to Larry’s house in San Diego, where he hooked on the dune buggy, and off we went. Our camp was close enough to the Colorado River to enjoy it’s smell.
It was 15 miles to the Red Cloud mine from our camp, and another 4 miles to the Clip mine beyond. The next morning was clear and sunny. After a leisurely breakfast, we prepared the dune buggy, reviewed our topographic maps, secured camp and got aboard with anticipation. Larry pressed the starter button, the engine caught and with a throaty, rhythmic sound we moved out of camp and drove onto the Red Cloud Mine road.
This area, near the Colorado River was a favorite of mine. The road dipped up and down through the most fantastically colored muds and volcanic rocks. Each turn in the road brought different colors to our eyes. 4 ˝ miles North of our camp we crossed the boundry of the Yuma Test Centers’ proving grounds. We were on their land only a short time as we proceeded 2 ˝ miles North up Yuma Wash.
Yuma Wash opened before us. Lots of vegetation; Smoke Trees, Indigo Bush, Palo Verde Trees, and lots of sand. On our left the Trigo (pronounced tree-go) Mountains climbed up out of the sandy wash abruptly. The Spaniards named the mountains Trigo (which means wheat) after a form of wild grain the local indians harvested and ate.
Soon our sandy road turned West and after 2 ˝ miles we crossed the Western border of the Yuma Proving Grounds and entered the steep sided and maroon-colored volcanic corridors that took us past the Black Rock Mine on our right, and into the site of Pacific City at the junction of our road and Black Rock Wash. Pacific City was later renamed Silent after the name of a prominent judge and mining man who lived there.
The overall color of the ground in Silent was a light maroon. There had been no changes in the city of foundations and collapsing vertical mine shafts from our earlier visit. The lack of water to make adobe bricks and the high cost of lumber caused many miners to cut into the conglomerate of the Black Rock Wash and fashion “homes” of hand dug caves. (photo #2) Note the blanket for a door, and up on top a stove pipe.
Taking leave of Pacific City/Silent, we got back into the dune buggy and went on to the Red Cloud Mine, and noticed the increased vandalism there (photo #3). A quarter mile beyond the mine, the road turned Northwest and into Red Cloud Wash. We stayed on the road as it swept around an open area and after 3 miles we came to a fork in the road.
To have gone North, after some 7 miles through Clip Wash, we would have arrived at the Clip Mill Site on the banks of the Colorado River. We turned sharply right, South, and in ˝ a mile saw our first view of the Clip mine (photo #4). The road was in pretty bad shape. Actually from the Black Rock Mine back by Silent, one would need 4-wheel drive, dune buggy, or a dual-purpose motorcycle to get to the Red Cloud and the Clip mine as well as the road beyond the Clip to the river.
Finally, we drove onto the junk-yard-like site of the Clip mine (photo #5). The round tanks held the crushed ore and cyanide solution. The cone shaped objects across the way were really the bottoms of the tanks and drained the saturated cyanide solutions off for further processing.
We explored the site. There was much to see, including cement equipment foundations (photo #6). Good examples of the various kinds of mining methods were still there, such as a worked-out vein (photo #7) and a huge “Glory Hole” (photo #8), and narrow seam (photo #9).
The surface ground extended over part of the Glory Hole. I laid face-down on the ground, camera in hand and wriggled slowly to the lip of the Glory Hole while Larry held onto my ankles, in case the ground gave way beneath me. When I looked down into that immense hole, my scalp prickled. I noticed on the far wall, a boarded-up tunnel that had been one of the ways into the Glory Hole before it became one.
That done in both two dimensional and three dimensional stereo photography, we took a final look around just as two 4-wheel drive vehicles drove up to us and unloaded several men and boys with hunting rifles. We chatted with them briefly, got back in our dune buggy (photo #10) and drove on back to the road fork. In the background we heard the “hunters” shooting at the leeching tanks. At least they waited till we had left.
Back at the fork, we took the “road” that led into Clip Wash and eventually to the Clip mill site on the banks of the Colorado river some 7 miles away. We saw more rugged scenery, but were stopped by a dry waterfall from completing the route. At least we drove some 5 miles in Clip Wash before we had to turn back and retrace our route to our camp near Fisher’s Landing.
Well, this was
a rugged trip! We
slept very well that night. I
hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
See you again next month!