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….
Scofield, Utah, is about 100 miles south and east of Salt Lake City and has come to be referred to as something of a ghost town. This cemetery is the final resting place for, among others, 200 miners who lost their lives on May 1, 1900, in what was, at the time, the worst mining disaster in the history of the United States. You can click here to read one of the many articles that a quick Google search will reveal. Of the headstones and grave markers visible in this photo, the five similar, wooden ones are for some of the miners. They appear to have been replaced/renewed at some time, as most of the wooden markers are in too good of a condition to have weathered 112 Utah summers and winters.
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….
Here we are again, picking up where we left-off at the end of the other post, Mineral Fork in June…part one…. This is the mining artifact that we couldn’t really see at the end of the trail in the next to last photo of the other post…and this is also the location where I was standing when looking down upon the person and trail in the very last photo of the previous post.
And another “people shot” below to help add some perspective to the grandness of the location….
The below photo shows the trail in August of last year, 2012…taken at essentially the same location…so you can see how much of it is covered with snow in the above photo.
This is my first sighting of a mountain goat out in the wild, ever. I’ve heard and read that they were in the area….and are usually found very high in the more rocky aspects of the Wasatch Mountains…. This one happened to be waaaaaay up on the side of the cirque, or bowl, at the end of the fork/valley….and I was waaaaaay down on the trail, so this is the best photo that I could get…but you can still tell what it is…right?
Below, my son is sitting on a rock about 50-75 yards down from the head-water, or origin, of the stream that runs the entire length of Mineral Fork and joins Big Cottonwood Stream at the other end, roughly four miles away. Imagine walking about that distance back up into the bowl that is behind him and listening to water running under the rocks…. It was quite loud…almost rushing, as it passed beneath the scree and finally made its way out from under the rock and became a recognizable stream…..and Holy Buddha, that was some cold water!
And here I am on a rock in the middle of the nascent stream…loving my little spot in the mountains…..
My son and I followed this lower switchback trail up to the higher switchbacks (that you can see in the earlier post), but went off trail and followed the stream through its windings and droppings in elevation back down to a a similar location on the opposite side of the canyon…which affords us this distant look at the trail as it begins to climb upward. These prominent switchbacks cause this trail to be referred to as the “zigzag trail” in various literature on the area…and can be seen clearly from the mountain ridges several miles to the north.
Here’s another view of the zigzag trail, below, that I’ve provided to help with scale and proportion again…. Can you see the two people highlighted against the snow…slightly below and to the left of the center of the photo?
This is the eastern ridge of Mineral Fork…facing south…and illuminated with the full brightness of the afternoon sun.
And this is a final look at Mineral Fork…looking backwards, though, toward its beginning at Big Cottonwood Canyon.
If you’d like to see a visual reference to where Mineral Fork is situated in Big Cottonwood Canyon itself, you can click on this link to be taken to my last post that includes a map of the area….find the central spine of mountains in the approximate middle of the map and then find the second purple pin up from the bottom of the image.
As always, thank you for being here, for spending a bit of your time with me…I hope you’ve enjoyed exploring another section of the Wasatch Mountains, just east of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
In the grand scheme of things, I’ve not lived near the trails and canyons of the Wasatch Mountains for very long…but it seems that I have lived here long enough to hike on some of the trails more than a few times now. I have a map above my desk at work and I place a colored pin at the terminus of each hike I’ve made over the last few years…a yellow pin for a place that I’ve been only once, pink for the second time, and purple for three or more times. I’m thinking about a red pin for places that I’ve been ten or more times, but so far, I have only one place that I could use it and have simply not gotten around to actually doing so yet.
At any rate, this hike into Mineral Fork allowed me to place a purple pin on my map…it was my third venture into the area, this tributary canyon or drainage that runs south from Big Cottonwood Canyon. My first adventure was in the fall of 2011 and it was crazy beautiful with the changing colors of the aspen and other deciduous trees and bushes. You can view some of the photos from that trip by clicking here. Did you notice the person in the below photo…? He’s about 2/3 of the way up the trail from where it comes out of the shadow…and a little bit before the trail turns sharply back to the left at that first switchback….
My second trip into Mineral Fork was in August of last year and I didn’t do much of a post on it, just shared some images of the wildflowers, which you can see here.
On those first two hikes, I traveled alone and stopped often to marvel at the mass of nature that surrounded me…and stopped to take some photos so that I would have proof of my journeys and something to share with my family and friends who didn’t accompany me out and into the canyons. My older son joined me on this most recent trip…and aside from the utility of having a constant human-sized reference to add perspective to some of my photos, it was nice to have a companion join me in seeing the area for his first time…which caused me to see and notice things that I hadn’t seen on my other adventures.
Even though we made the hike during the third week of June, we still encountered the lingering mountain snow on the trails. The switchback trail is usually wide enough for two people to walk side by side….
…but as you can see in the next two photos, we were often down to only a single track of exposed rock….
…and at a couple of points along the way, we actually had to make new tracks into the crusted and melting snow so that we could continue down the trail. If you zoom-in a bit on the below photo, you might be able to see an artifact of the abandoned Regulator-Johnson mine at the far end of the trail……or maybe not….
The view from the last photo is looking toward the north-east from the end of the trail…the cone of rock to the right of the image is Kessler Peak, and the mountains off in the distance is the northern ridge or slope of Big Cottonwood Canyon…and there’s another person in the below photo, as well…he’s sitting on a rock on the left side of the trail, just above the snow at the bottom of the image.
Stay tuned for the second part….coming soon…..
A week or so ago, my second son and I headed out into the beyond…took a tour around Utah Lake…essentially followed in the tire-tracks of my third son who had made the trip on his bike last summer. At the southern end of the lake, the road heads back east. About two and a half miles past the town of Goshen, you can see what appears to be the remains of something on the side of a mountain. Even from a distance, you can also see that it has been frequented by taggers and graffiti artists. My cycling son had mentioned the ruins after his ride and suggested that we needed to check it out sometime.
After leaving this site and finding a stronger signal for his phone, my second son determined that these were/are the ruins of the Tintic Standard Reduction Mill…an ore processing facility that was built between 1919-1921…and only used for four years…so it has been standing vacant and abandoned since 1925. For a very brief history of the mill, you can click on the highlighted name to be taken to the Wiki article that provides a bit of information.
This link to the Historic American Engineering Record provides a more extensive history…and shows us what the ruins looked like back in 1971, after it had been abandoned for 46 years, and before a select demographic of our country decided that they needed to decorate the place with their spray-painted opinions and expressions of art. The following images represent what the place looks like today…42 years after the essentially “clean” images from 1971…and 88 years after it was abandoned.
The entirety of the mill structure spans an elevation equivalent to eight stories of a building and is situated on the side of Warm Springs Mountain, 5,535 ft elev.
The circular structures are leaching vats where the crushed ore would be chemically processed to remove the silver, copper, lead, and gold.
Don’t know enough about it to even guess what the circular things below were/are….
Under the vats…supports…drains(?)…retention walls….
The inside of a leaching vat…
These are the ore bins toward the right of the photo…above the leaching vats.
A view looking over the ore bins…with my son at the far end.
My son looking into the silver precipitator…the square-shaped structure with the conical (inverted pyramids) chute underneath…situated to the left of the leaching vats in the third photo above.
If you click on the link for the Historic American Engineering Record, you can see the diagrams that identify the various parts of the mill that I have named in the post…the leaching vats, silver precipitator, ore bins, roaster, etc….
I believe that’s the water tank in the photo below…with Savannah and Shilo painted on it…….and if you look in the very first photo above…and notice the somewhat removed, shadowy structure to the very bottom right, those are the lead precipitate bins…..
Looking over the ore bins…in the opposite direction.
The front of the roaster section….
I believe the space between the large structure on the right side of the image and the broken-through wall (that general area) is where the crusher was located…and the large structure is where the ore was roasted.
Warm Springs pond/lake below the mill….
Looking over the roaster, ore bins, silver precipitator, and leaching vats….
The below image is from the highest, developed area of the mill…where I was standing on the remaining foundation of what I believe you can see in the very top left corner of the last image of the post.
The Tintic Standard Reduction Mill before its decline….
Hmm…so this post was quite a bit longer than my normal fare…but I hope you enjoyed it anyway…..
As always, thank you for being here.