Ruins in the Desert

On the very first week of my road trip I visited the Mojave Desert and spent a couple of days exploring old mining sites. A few days ago I was looking at the pictures I had taken and decided to share them in a post. Enjoy!

Lost horse mine shaft
Lost Horse Mine in Joshua Tree National Park. It produced about 9000 ounces of gold during operation making it one of the most profitable mines in the area.

Lost Horse Mine

The Southern California desert must rank among the most inhospitable places in the world. Rainfall is scarce, agriculture is impossible, and a relentless summer sun can kill unprepared visitors. At the beginning of the 20th century few people ventured here, but those who did usually came with hopes of finding precious metals in the vast desert.

Copper, silver, and gold were all extracted from beneath the arid landscape with varying degrees of success. Some miners profited handsomely while others found little of value. Mining activities began to wind down during the 1950s and 1960s and today it has all but ceased. However much of what the early miners left behind is still out in the desert, remarkably well preserved by the dry climate.

Abandoned engine Joshua Tree National Park
Abandoned Machinery on the ground near the mine.
Winch at Lost Horse Mine

A rusty winch that was once used to haul material up form the mine shaft

Life in the Desert

Large mines operated year round and workers needed to live close by. In some cases, miners built homes in the desert for their families and laborers to reside in. These miniature mining communities needed to be totally self-sufficient and often went for months with no contact from the outside world.

Ryan family Homestead
The ruins of the Ryan family homestead, located 3 miles from Lost Horse Mine. 50 people once resided here and on the surrounding property to make sure that the mine operated smoothly.
Windmill Ryan Ranch
Fallen windmill near the Ryan Ranch. It was used to pump water from a well up to ground level.


Abandoned Water Tank Joshua Tree National Park
Empty water tank
Adobe House Joshua Tree National Park
Adobe house on the Ryan Family homestead. Since there are few trees, bricks were often used as a building material.

Other Miners

Mining Mojave Desert
All that remains from this mining camp is a chimney and a rusty bed frame. According to the National Park Service, the occupants of this camp found nothing, and abandoned their camp after just one year.
Mone Shafts
Abandoned mine shafts on a distant hillside. 



















Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *