I made this image while standing inside of the roofless bunkhouse and looking out onto what was the front porch and yard area of the bunkhouse ruins at the Cardiff Mine in Cardiff Fork, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah, USA.
Nature has already invested some serious work in reclaiming the area…and time has begun to heal our deep wounds upon the Earth….
You might remember my earlier posts on Cardiff Fork, but if not, you can visit them by exploring the Categories widget below.
Hmm…I suppose I should have gotten around to this one a while ago, as we’re approaching the end of the year and I made these images close to four months ago….the snow you see in some of the images is actually from last winter and we’re quickly approaching the snows from this coming winter. In fact, if I were to head back to Cardiff Fork today, I believe I’d encounter some new snow to share with you.
I don’t know how many of you have had the opportunity to hike into the mountains at the end of June, get all hot and sweaty, soaked shirt and everything, and then reach into a pile of snow and make a nice snow-ball to eat and cool yourselves down with, but it’s a wonderful treat! My son and I each had a large, grapefruit-sized snowball and it was fantastic…so refreshing!
The above photo was taken while we were sitting at the furthest end of the fork…about four miles into the mountains, inside of the cirque that was full of broken basalt-looking rock that has tumbled down from the ridges above over the years.
I don’t really have much more to tell you about the canyon/fork and its associated mining history, but I thought you might enjoy seeing a few more photos of the geography and beautiful landscape of the area. If we were to climb to the top of the ridge in the below photo, we would be looking west and into Mineral Fork….
If you can find the little finger of trees that is way down and to the left of the peak that is in the upper right corner (of the below photo), actually located between the center and right large pine/fir trees, that is where we were sitting while eating the snow-balls…where my son and I were sitting when I made the first and second photos above…we were just to the left of that little finger of trees….
Also in the above photo, if you were on the ridge just below the clouds in the upper left corner, you could look south and down into Little Cottonwood Canyon…the little ski town of Alta would be off toward the left…and the metropolitan area of the Salt Lake Valley would be way off to the right…..
The below photo is from the other side of the fork, looking across the valley area and onto the old Cardiff Mine area. If you’ll recall the photos from the first post in this series, Cardiff Fork…beginning…, photo #8, that’s the same mine area that you can see in this below photo, but from a distance now, and with the ore sorter in the foreground.
My son is providing a bit of perspective for us…he’s about 6’3″…so the ore sorter is rather large…..
While my son’s not in the below photo, he was standing near the lower right edge/corner of the sorter and his head came to right about the center of that large beam that is right above the tree….
…and this last photo is looking back up into Cardiff Fork as my son and I were nearing the end of the return hike out of the canyon……
That’s all folks…I hope you’ve enjoyed the hike through Cardiff Fork. If you’d like to view all three posts from the series in one continuous stream, you can go to the bottom of the page and click on “Cardiff Fork” under the Category widget…that will bring you all three posts together. Thank you again for visiting and for spending a bit of your time with me….
I suppose this is right about where we left off at the end of the other post, “Cardiff Fork…beginning….” You can see my son standing on the remaining basement wall of the bunkhouse where the miners used to live and sleep. That bit of a brown line near the stumps or logs in the foreground of the image, the part that looks something like a saw-dust trail, is actually a decomposing tree that is headed back into the ground.
We found about a half-dozen established camping areas throughout our hike in the largely privately-owned canyon of Cardiff Fork. This was something very unusual, given that all of the other hiking locations in the canyons of our local Wasatch Mountains are essentially wilderness areas and the most we might find is a recently used fire-ring. My son is examining a metal arrowhead that he found laying atop the stump/post next to him. It seems the landowners have put quite a bit of work into having a nice place to sit and cook for their camping/hunting excursions.
The below photo is looking further, or deeper into the fork…
…and this next photo is looking back at the trail from somewhere near the base of the trees in the above image.
I would imagine that the hole was larger when the mine was being worked, but it seems to have been filled-in a bit, either naturally or intentionally, over the years since it was in operation. There was a bit of a cool and wetly metallic breeze coming out of the ground here….
The boiler and bit of a foundation with re-bar sticking up from the ground is all that remains of the Baby McKee mine.
I’m not sure why, but it was kind of neat walking across these huge slabs of rock on the hillside. I’ve not encountered anything like them in the dozens of other locations I’ve hiked here in the Wasatch….
It’s fascinating to contemplate the geological forces that must have combined to cause the canyon to appear as it does today…such mind-boggling power coming from inside the earth.
We were nearing the end of the Cardiff Fork canyon at this point. You can see that there’s a bit of a bowl up there above the wormy line of trees near the upper center of the photo. We actually headed up the slope on the left side of the rock slabs toward the right of the image…our goal being to make it to the top, or right side of the line of trees and then to look down into the bowl or cirque. We imagined that there might be another mine up there, although there were no roads leading up to it…so maybe there was no mine.
My son and I couldn’t see it from the vantage point where I made the above photo, but if you’ll look at that darker spot of rock just down from nearly the very center of the line of trees in the photo, that’s where we found the shaft and broken rock structure that are in the next two photos.
Stay tuned for the next and final post in the Cardiff Fork series.
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. 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. 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. 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, 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…. 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. 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. 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. 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.To 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.
And 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.
More to follow in a little bit….
If you remember this post, living anyway, you might remember reading in the comments that Allen mentioned that he’d like to see the view from up there. Well, these photos are not from exactly up there, but they’re from a location that’s pretty close to being up there….
You’ll notice that the pictures in first to fourth order go from left to right in the landscape…and you’ll notice that it’s a little brown and bleak…but the photos were taken in November after an earlier light winter and dry summer….
The photos were taken on the ridge between Days Fork and Cardiff Fork, looking west and down into Cardiff Fork. The road was used for mining efforts over the years…which have been finished for about four decades.
I have photos of the mining artifacts from earlier in the summer…just haven’t gotten around to making a post yet…. If you’ll look closely (or click on the photo to magnify it) in the second photo, at the largest patch of snow closest to the bottom right-hand corner of the image, you can see a small rectangle…that’s the foundation remaining from the miners’ bunk house…you can also see it in the third photograph…but you might have to hunt for it a little bit…in the lower quarter of the image and toward the left side….
This is another view from my perch on the slice of mountain that exists between Days Fork and Cardiff Fork…what I believe is called the Reed and Benson Ridge…looking toward the left, or east, of the panorama that you can see in the recent post, My Mountains. Again, this gorgeous area is found in Big Cottonwood Canyon, part of the Wasatch Mountains that form the eastern boundary for the greater Salt Lake Valley.
There is much that we simply cannot see when we are down in the valleys and canyons of the mountains that surround us…however…when we find ourselves perched atop a ridge-line or peak, it is almost as if the world has been opened for us and we can see…and see. I found myself atop the ridge-line between Days Fork and Cardiff Fork a couple of weekends ago…and almost could not believe the view. These are some of the various peaks that comprise our Wasatch Mountains…the eastern border for the greater Salt Lake Valley.