Saturday, November 18, 2006

Bluebird Mine, Success At Last!

UPDATE: 2/7/07
An interesting historical tidbit;
We just learned from the Globe Historical Society Archives that the famous balloonist, Maxie Anderson was the last owner of "our" Blue Bird Mine. Anderson was best known as the first, along with his partner Ben Abruzzo to fly non-stop across the Atlantic in a gas balloon in 1978. He was killed in a ballooning accident in Germany in June,1983 and since that time, the mine has become part of the Tonto National Forest.
Maxie Anderson invested in mining at an early age, probably to help support his passion for ballooning. Nobody seems to know what his intentions were for the Blue Bird, since it was thought that Azurite, the primary mineral at the Blue Bird had run out and there isn't a big market for Fluorite, the secondary mineral found there.
Since he purchased the mine between 1976 and 1980 after it had supposedly played out, I wonder if he knew there was something else worth mining there?
The Anderson-Abruzzi Balloon Museum is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


Finally, on our sixth attempt, we were able to achieve access to the Bluebird Mine. Ralph's son Scott, was visiting us from Los Angeles this past week and when he heard us talk about the Bluebird he said that he'd like to try to reach the mine with us while he was visiting, so we loaded up early Thursday morning and headed once again for the Bluebird. We figured if we had any vehicle problems, Scott being a young 43 year old would be physically able to hike out and get help. The road hadn't improved since we last traveled it with Brian10X, still tippy, elevated and as rocky as any road we'd want to travel in our mostly stock Jeep. We arrived at the Bluebird cabin without any damage except maybe my frazzled nerves due to the tip factor of the road.
The quarter mile hike back into the Bluebird Canyon was semi strenuous, with lots of boulders to scramble over and cactus spines to avoid, but at the end of the hike we were rewarded with success. There ahead of us were the remains of the Bluebird Mine. Finally, after 6 attempts, we had reached our goal. A large ore chute, a conveyor of some sort with tracks leading from the mine to the conveyor and then to the ore chute. There were assorted remains, fallen wooden buildings, tracks all over the place, an old assayer's office now covered with corrugated metal siding.
The view from the adit was dark and ominous as we peered into the gloomy interior but we decided to go for it. The walls and ceiling were solid rock, the floor was lined by ore cart tracks and very little sound marred the silence except for our muffled footsteps and nervous laughter as we left the light of the mine entrance behind us. Only our flashlight beams lit the way as we went deeper into the mine. When we had gone a very slow, 150 feet into the mine making twists and turns along the way our flashlight beams in unison focused on a dark form on the floor ahead of us. There, as we approached, we could make out the shape of a human figure and upon closer inspection, we could see it was a skeleton, dressed in rotting clothing, wearing boots that were decaying exposing bony toes. Scott, being young and foolishly brave moved aside a bit of clothing and we saw an arrow piercing the skeleton's chest and large silver coins spilled from his pockets. Around his waist were the remains of a holster with a large gun still in place. At that point we turned and headed out of the mine at a much faster pace than the one we used entering it................

And now, the truth.....
We did indeed finally reach the Bluebird Mine, but alas, no skeleton, no skeletal toes, no arrow, no coins and no holstered gun. We were instead rewarded with some really neat ruins. The conveyor with tracks leading up was something we hadn't seen before and while poking around the assayer's office, we found some old tools which had fallen down behind a bench. There was a heavy, handmade chair and of course modern day beer cans and shotgun shells littering the ground from previous explorers to the area. Dammit, I wish people would be more considerate of these places, but that's the topic for another thread. We weren't disappointed at all at not finding any hidden treasure, instead we had the satisfaction of finally reaching our goal. It was worth the wait. Sometime in not too distant future, this site will be gone, scheduled for "reclamation" but at least we've photographed it, explored it and brought home a few things which would have been lost to the bulldozer's blade. 
                     Ore bin, ore conveyor, and assayer's office
           in Bluebird Canyon
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                                         One of the Bluebird's adits
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                       Bluebird Mine adit with ore cart tracks
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Scott & Ralph
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Here's an old bat that flew out of the mine

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Ore cart conveyor
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Ore chute
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Assayer's office
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Ore Conveyor
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Ore chute
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Recovered treasures
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Not a very comfy chair
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