Wednesday, September 12, 2007

McFadden Peak & Zadora Mine


This morning we headed up SR 288, Desert to Tall Pines Scenic Hwy, to do a little walking up in the cool mountain air. We figured we'd better get our tails in gear after hibernating all summer long and get a bit of exercise. We decided to go to McFadden Peak (elevation 7135 feet) and perhaps walk around there, but our plans changed. When we got to McFadden Peak, the towerman was manning the fire lookout tower and since he seldom gets much human contact, he was most eager to talk. When he learned that we enjoy finding and visiting old mining sites, he told us about an abandoned mine nearby, even showing us the location through his binoculars. He said that he didn't think the trail would be passable in a Jeep, but that we could probably drive part way in and then hike the rest. After an interesting chat with him and after viewing photos he had taken of the local flora and fauna and admiring the spectacular mountain vistas from the tower, we thanked him and said good bye. We headed for the trail and found it easily, just as the towerman said, just south of mile marker #288. The trail was great, heading through tall pines, Sycamores and Live Oaks, shady, cool and very pretty. It was quite rocky and headed along the edge of a couple of canyons, but nothing the Jeep couldn't handle. About a mile and a half in, we came upon the remains of the old Zadora Flurospar Mine. We could make out the remnants of tracks leading from the mine, as well as a storage shed built directly into the rocky mountainside. The main entrance to the mine itself has a locked wooden gate, so we didn't get to venture inside. It's not a good idea to go in this time of year anyway with rattlers still very much awake and active before the end of the season. We might head back there this winter and see if there's a way in. It did look intriguing and very interesting. The entire area was littered with large piles of mine tailings, leading us to believe it was not a small operation. The towerman told us that the mine bankrupted when the mill to process the ore closed down and the next closest mill was located in Texas, making it no longer profitable to mine the Fluorspar.

It was a great morning, cool, fresh pine-scented mountain air and the unexpected surprise ofexploring the area around the old mine.