Date:.........December 27th, 2000 Destination:..Gold Butte Duration:.....Day trip (12 hours) Departure:....Westwood Weather:......Clear and mild Adventurers:..8 (Ted, Angie, Amy, Chris, Mike [photographer], Steve, Joe, Dwight) Vehicles:.....3
The weather turned suddenly mild. Suddenly mild for late December that is. Not to let this opportunity slip by, we do some exploring. It was while looking for information on Devil's Hole (the subject of a previous trip) that we came across information regarding the lesser known Devil's Throat. It is located far off the beaten path -- clear on the other side of Lake Mead. This also looks like a good area to stash some buried treasure. There is also the ghost town of Gold Butte there.
Short movie of trip [not narrated, so best viewed after reading this page]
The trip to Gold Butte lead us north to Mesquite, across the Virgin river and then south into the desert wilderness. This is the quickest path to Gold Butte. It is a wonder that anyone ever travels there.
Only a few miles south of crossing the Virgin river we discover a farm. The road travels along a ridge overlooking the farm, so we stop and take a gander. The farm livestock consists entirely of ostriches. There must have been hundreds of them. None of them had their head in the sand. Probably because we were too far away to frighten them.
Just south of the ostrich farm was a pyramid. The pyramid was hidden behind some hills and the roads leading to it were blocked off. We were only able to get close enough to get a glimpse of the very top of the pyramid. The pointy top indicated the pyramid was of Egyptian origin. A thorough investigation of this Egyptian site will have to wait for another trip. We had other plans.
Heading south along the New Gold Butte Road we notice geological changes. Rock hills became more frequent. We did get a closer look at one of the rock hills. These hills were filled with eroded pockets and sedimentary layers at bizarre angles. Some erosion areas were just half-bowl hollows and others were completely worn through the rock. We scrambled all over the hill.
The map indicated petroglyphs nearby and a placed called Whitney Pockets. We looked for the petroglyphs, but couldn't find them. However, we were able to find Whitney's Pocket.
Whitney Pockets is a site that has a cave house, a watering trough, and a large intact dam. The place has been abandoned for some time. The surrounding geography consists of rocky sandstone hills.
There is a cave house at the base of one hill. I presume it served as a house since it had an opening that looked like a door and a chimney in the roof. Another opening nearby looked like a, uhh, well, we don't really know what it was. A small opening above it was covered with a screen, but that didn't help with deducing what it was used for.
Near the cave house and within one slot canyon lies a tall dam in excellent condition. It looked capable of holding water although there was currently no water within the basin. It had a faucet knob on the front as well as steep stairs going up the front and down the back of the dam.
Just at the entrance to the slot canyon was what I would presume was a watering trough. There were no livestock nearby nor water in the trough, so its purpose will remain just a theory.
South of Whitney Pockets lies Devil's Throat. It is a large sinkhole in the desert. The formation of this sinkhole remains a mystery. Sinkholes in this area are very rare. This one is 100 feet deep and about as wide.
The edges of the sinkhole are crumbly and dangerous. There is a fence surrounding the hole. Probably there to keep animals and curious humans away.
Naturally, we stayed outside of the fence. No, really. Honest. Yup, outside. Completely outside. Kinda. Well, mostly. Some of us stayed outside. I think. At first, anyway.
About 30 miles south of Devils Throat lies the ghost town of Gold Butte. Gold was discovered near here in 1905 and by 1908 the town of Gold Butte had stable, store, post office, and even a hotel. In spite of its name, more copper was mined in the area than gold. Like many ghost towns, little remains. In fact, so little remains that we were never sure if we found the actual site of the town. We did find the Gold Butte corral though.
In addition to the corral, we found a water tank, an old truck, a homestead, a fuel tank, a mine shaft, a graveyard (Arthur S. Coleman 1876-1957 and William H. Garrett 1880-1961), and a thingie. After a complete search it became apparent that there were no living residents of the town.
The most usual (yes, "usual") thing we found was a field of rusty cans. Rusty cans are a sure-fire way to confirm the location of ancient human habitation. We have found this kind of evidence on several occasions in the past.
This area looked like the perfect spot to hide a geocache. A "geocache" is a little treasure chest of trinkets buried for the benefit of future treasure hunters. There is a whole site dedicated to hiding and finding geocaches throughout the world.
We picked a spot to bury the geocache that was not too far from the road yet not too close to the Gold Butte ruins.
If you happen to wander out that way, be sure to check it out. My favorite item in the cache is the Rapinator. Words cannot do it justice (bring some AA batteries).
The Return Trip
The sun was getting low by this time and we needed to head back. Instead of backtracking, we decided to follow the Back Country Byway route. This route was supposed to loop around and rejoin the New Gold Butte road. At least that is what the map indicated.
We traveled many miles north and encountered Red Bluff Spring. This spring had red bluffs and water, naturally. We discovered a petrified tree embedded in the red bluffs. We also found that the spring was covered with calcium like crystals. It almost looked like snow.
The sun was setting and the temperature was dropping. It was definitely time to head back now. It was then that we discovered a little known phenomena in the desert. Roads are perfectly visible during daylight, but at night, the roads disappear. We got lost. Every road we traveled was a dead end. It was peculiar. Even when we tried to backtrack, the road dead ended. After many hours of crossing and re-crossing our path, we eventually found the road that lead to Devil's Throat. From there it was a paved road back to civilization.
Lesson to be learned: don't travel in the desert at night.