Cardiff Fork…beginning….

At this time of year, it’s nearly impossible to hike anywhere in the Wasatch Mountains and not find wildflowers of some sort or other growing in near profusion along the trails, out in the meadows, or up on the literal sides of the mountains.  Cardiff Fork is no exception. Cardiff Fork flowers My older, hiking son and I found ourselves deep in the canyons toward the end of June and this group of flowers is what greeted us on our happy Sunday morning.  The above photo shows Horsemint, Agastache urticifolia (the bottle brush looking flowers), Leafy Jacob’s Ladder, Polemonium foliosissimum (the ones in white), and Sticky Purple Geranium, Geranium viscosissimum (the purple ones).  The below image has some of the same Leafy Jacob’s Ladder with a bit of the reddish-pink Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja, thrown into the mix. Cardiff Fork Trail I’m pretty sure that the yellow flowers in the below photo are not Arrowleaf Balsamroot, Balsamohriza sagittata, but I do feel rather confident suggesting that they are part of the Sunflower family, Asteraceae. Cardiff Fork Wildflowers You might have noticed the uiae ad metalla in the second photo, the roads leading to the mines, and wondered at the Latin name for that, too, so I provided it for you at no extra cost.  And with that, I’ll pronounce myself finished with the high-highfalutin, Google-translated, proper names…… Cardiff Fork Abandoned Mine Cardiff Fork, also referred to as Mill D South, is one of the tributary drainages that heads south from Big Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Mountains just east of Salt Lake City, Utah.  If you’ll click here to go back to the map that I shared in an earlier post, you can find Cardiff Fork at the third pink pin from the top of the map, in the center area of the image, just below the pink and yellow pins that are close together.  It is also the pink pin at the top of the second image in that post, the close-up of the canyons.  So now you know where we are…heading back into Utah’s mining history.  My son is looking into one of the abandoned and filled-in shaft openings in the above photo…. Cardiff Fork crumbled cabin remains And while it may appear that he’s surveying the aftermath of his own destructive forces in the above image, my son is simply standing there in the middle of the ruins that were likely a cabin in another time.  There was an electric water-heater off to the right of the image, so, while we know the enterprise existed and functioned in the past, we also know that it was recent enough that the people had some fairly modern amenities.  The information that I’ve been able to find in various sources indicates that mining activity was conducted in the area beginning in the 1870s and continued, off and on, until about 1967. Cardiff Fork private road As you can see from the sign in the photo above, the land of Cardiff Fork is privately owned…rather, much of it is…and some of it is owned by Salt Lake City…and some of it is also National Forest property…and there have been longstanding legal conflicts over who gets to do what in the area.  The Salt Lake Tribune reported in May of last year that the National Forest Service and the Cardiff Canyon Owners’ Association had come to an agreement that allowed hikers and skiers access to the private property for recreational purposes, while they respected the landowners’ property and their right to operate their motorized vehicles on the roadways of the canyon.  During my two explorations of Cardiff Fork, I’ve yet to see someone riding an ATV and have only seen a handful of hikers this far up into the canyon. Cardiff Fork tailings pile with mountain backdrop You can see the large tailings pile in the above photo, and the remains of what I believe is the main Cardiff Mine in the below photo.  The Cardiff Mine is located a bit to the left and up the mountain from this tailings pile that is from actually from another mine site.Cardiff Fork Mine Tunnel wrecked remains In the below photo, you can see the basement remains of the old two-story bunkhouse where the miners lived/slept when they weren’t working.  The bunkhouse is located between 200-300 yards to the right of the main mine that’s shown above.  I read somewhere that there was actually a tunnel connecting the bunkhouse to the mine that the workers used during the winter months.  I believe it was in Charles L. Keller’s book, The Lady in the Ore Bucket, which I’ve used as a reference in several other posts.Cardiff Fork bunkhouse foundationTo give us a little historical context, my son found this bottle bottom with the date of August 5th, 1919 in the bunkhouse.  It was actually sitting on the windowsill of the middle window facing us in the above photo.
Cardiff Fork bottle bottomAnd the below image shows us the old boiler that would/may have been used to heat the water in the bunkhouse…among other things, as it appears to have been connected to some other apparatus near the bottom right side of it.
Cardiff Fork bunkhouse boilerMore to follow in a little bit….


22 responses

  1. If you’d like a good illustration of why people who know something about plants use those high falutin, fancy names, just go to a nursery and ask to see a pine tree.

    August 8, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    • I used to work in a nursery, Allen…I’m kinda familiar with how it goes there. I was simply playing around…pretending that I knew what the heck I was talking about…unlike you and some of our other botanist-type blogging friends who really do know what you’re doing here. 🙂

      August 8, 2013 at 1:56 pm

      • It sounded like you knew what you were talking about to me. When I did nursery work I was surprised by how many people didn’t know the importance of scientific names. It’s hard to know what to sell someone who asks for a daisy, or a pine tree.

        August 8, 2013 at 7:14 pm

        • Well, “daisy” and “pine tree” are good places to start the conversation…at least you know where to direct them in the nursery. 😉

          August 13, 2013 at 5:36 pm

  2. Always so enjoy your pictures and words Scott.

    August 8, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    • Thank you very much, Adrian…I’m glad that you choose to spend some of your time visiting with me.

      August 8, 2013 at 1:58 pm

  3. Poking amongst the ruins. Remember that all too well. 😉

    August 8, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    • Yes, Gunta, it’s a wee bit o’ fun, isn’t it? 🙂

      August 8, 2013 at 9:29 pm

  4. I’m living vicariously through you and learning so much! Very impressed with your knowledge of plants and these images are magnificent as always. Some amazing pieces of history up there in those mountains!

    August 8, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    • I’m glad you can go with me, Susan…it’s so nice to be able to share our little corners of the world, isn’t it? And yes, there is a ton of history up in those mountains. 🙂

      August 13, 2013 at 6:46 am

  5. There’s a lot of history there, but the mines sure leave a mess behind them, don’t they!

    August 8, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    • They do leave quite a mess, Terry…I’ve tried to look at it with the perspective of it being a museum…or like the ruins of an ancient castle. I don’t like the scars that they leave on the land and the destruction of the forests…but when looking at the scene some 40-50 or more years later, the artifacts are compelling.

      August 13, 2013 at 6:50 am

  6. It’s so much fun to poke around places like this, and then do some research and learn a little more about them. I wonder why the bottle had a specific date? Very funny about the Latin for the mining road, but I am all for Latin AND common names for flowers. So, thanks for giving both. I think the Polemonium is different in the east, and the horsemint, too, and the geranium – did we have that one? I don’t think so (there I go, switching back & forth between Latin & common names). I know all the yellow composites out here are really tough to sort out, so you’re wise to leave it at “Sunflower family.” It’s way beyond me! Thanks for all your work!

    August 8, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    • You’re welcome for the “work,” Lynn…like you said, it’s fun to be out there and then do a bit of research to learn more about what we saw. I don’t know about the bottle…but would guess that it was just a production date…kind of like all of the code numbers that we find on packaged food and drink nowadays…production dates, lot numbers, expiration dates…. I know that you enjoy seeing the Latin names for the flowers, but I’m glad you liked the Latin wording for the mining road, as well…just playing around a bit. Thanks for being here, Lynn….I appreciate your comment. 🙂

      August 13, 2013 at 6:56 am

  7. . . . ‘sploring stuff is a lot of fun . . .

    August 9, 2013 at 7:02 am

  8. You guys are so lucky to have such huge spaces to roam. Over here in the UK it’s difficult to go more than few miles before coming across a town or a road or a sign saying ‘No trespassing’.

    The mine looks like a fascinating place to explore, it was fortunate that the survivng bottle shard was the bit with the date on. What would have been mined there? Gold?

    August 10, 2013 at 2:36 am

    • Yes, Finn…I would say that we are very fortunate to have such huge spaces to roam about over here…and with the protected areas, too, of the national and state parks, and the wilderness areas, as well.

      That bottle bottom was quite a find, too…a little treasure from the past. From my various readings, I know that precious metals were mined here and throughout the local canyons and the rest of the state…gold, silver, copper…as well as lead, coal, onyx, gypsum…and different types of stone, clay, gravel, and sand…whatever industry and the settling of the local “civilization” needed….

      August 13, 2013 at 7:15 am

  9. beautiful flowers. How pleasant it is to walk among the mountains at such a time.

    August 10, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    • It’s great being out there, Shimon…early in the morning before the sun is over the ridge…so nice and cool, quiet, and peaceful.

      August 13, 2013 at 7:16 am

  10. You have so many places for exploration, Scott! Fascinating bits of history.

    August 16, 2013 at 12:17 pm

  11. thank you, Scott for actually naming those wonderful wildflowers – I had forgotten some of their names over the years – loved the refresher course. Carina 🙂

    August 24, 2013 at 1:42 am

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