Date:.........January 1st, 1998 Destination:..West of Jean and vicinity Duration:.....Day trip Departure:....Westwood Studios Weather:......clear & mild Adventurers:..5 Vehicles:.....1
On January 1st, 1998 a group of explorers journeyed in search of what may lie west of Jean Nevada. They discover mine shafts, an X-Files communication station, the Green Monster Mine, and cans cans cans. This is the true story of that adventure.
We decide to go off-roading. The schedule is set for January 1st, 1998. Now we just have to decide where to go. After carefully perusing many books that list adventure spots around Las Vegas, we narrow the choice down to two locations.
- Black Sand Caves and surrounding area. There are a multitude of caves in the region (many unexplored). The main cave in the area is very large with chasms 300' deep and a running underground river. The floor of the caves are covered with gold bearing black sand. Even near the surface, the roaring sound of the underground river can be heard.
- Drive into the featureless desert west of Jean.
The vote was overwhelming -- for option #2. Personally, I preferred option #1, but I was out voted. Go figure.
Preparation and Departure
In order to save time we streamlined the departure process. Ted was tasked to buy lunch sandwiches, Mike was to prepare the 4-wheeler, Dwight was to bring Shannon, and I was to bring the electronic equipment. We would skip the breakfast & Albertson's stop and would thus save at least an hour. It actually worked. However, there were two minor glitches.
Shannon was unable to come and Angie also bailed. It also turned out that Kurt didn't go with us either. Considering the events of the last trip, this struck us as rather strange. Kurt and Angie both unable to go! Maybe it was just some coincidence? Again!
With the extra hour we saved, we decided to sleep in. It was about 10:45 when were ready to depart. We pack up and head out for the fantastic and wonderful featureless desert west of Jean.
Pinch me, I must be dreaming.
We reach Jean without incident. Not much to report here. Yup. Pretty much nothing to note. Yawn. Well at least our destination wasn't Jean, but the featureless desert west of there. We turn west and, after a short drive, discover a new town.
This town is small with many rustic buildings alongside the more frequent trailers. It didn't look like there was much here to do for entertainment. There was a small bar (about the size of a trailer) and a small volunteer fire department. In spite of these compelling pastimes, at least one resident had the gumption to create some literary artwork on the tin roof of a shed.
The most interesting structure was probably this rather tall building that had a tower (well?) attached. There was really only so much sight seeing one could do in Goodsprings, so we continued westward in search of something interesting.
Red Cloud Mine
After a few miles heading west from Jean we see a tower off the side of the road. It looked interesting and so we stopped. After examining the map, it turned out to be the Red Cloud Mine. The tower marked the entrance to a vertical mine shaft. On the way to the tower, Ted nearly falls in, errr, I mean discovers, another vertical mine shaft that wasn't marked by any structure. I'm not sure what they were mining for, but they sure had to dig deep.
The bottom of the shaft was far too deep to see, even with flashlights, so we resorted to the scientific method of determining its depth -- we dropped rocks down the shaft to see how long it took to hit bottom.
Science to the Rescue
The time for the rock to reach the bottom of the shaft was about 2.3 seconds (as I recall).
Subtract off the speed of sound (about 1000' per second) and subtract a bit for margin of error and the result is still a shaft depth of over 50 feet! A five story fall would probably hurt, so we decided not to jump in. Forty or fifty rocks later, we look around to see what else is nearby.
About 100 yards down the slope lies some ruins. These undoubtedly were the remains of mining buildings, but not much is left of them now. There was a concrete shell of a large building and a couple of vats. The remaining wall of the building sported a hole about the size of an Israeli anti-tank missile. Of course, it probably was caused by something else. I mean, what are the odds that there was ever any Israeli military armaments within 10,000 miles of this location?
Ted, Dwight, and Mike reach the vats before Maria does. So, naturally, they take this opportunity to pretend that the vats are very deep and Mike climbs into one. Mike yells that he's stuck in the "very deep hole" and can't get out. The acting was good. But not good enough. Maria has been victim of such pranks one too many times to be so easily fooled.
As we explore the area further, Dwight discovers some evidence. An Israeli armaments box. Hmmm. We beat a hasty retreat.
The Fork in the Road
As we leave the ruins we reach an intersection.
There were four choices.
We could head back the way we came (yea, right).
We could turn left. The way was blocked by rocks.
We could go straight. The road was clear and headed toward and interesting mountain with some glint of metal at the top. Truly, adventure lies in this direction.
We could turn right. That way was blocked by an enormous rock in the road and it also appeared to head toward Goodsprings.
The vote was overwhelming -- for option #4. Personally, I preferred option #3, but I was out voted. Go figure.
After the right turn and careful circumnavigation of the large blocking boulder, the road veered left and toward the top of the mountain. Excellent. We were heading toward the mountain just as I had hoped and in spite of the previous turn right. The straight path and the right path actually connected together and both would lead toward the mysterious mountain top.
The road rose steeply. Switchback after switchback we traveled. The road seemed to never end. And then, finally, we reach half way up the mountain. A debate arose over whether we should turn around and descend. A brief examination of the circumstances revealed a sheer wall of rock on one side and a precipice on the other. The road was just as wide as the vehicle so we couldn't turn around. Backing down the mountain seemed like hardly the sane thing to do, so we were forced to move on. Once someone starts up that road, there is no turning back. It was almost like a trap.
Communications Facility (or is it?)
At the top there was a strange collection of towers, buildings, and unidentifiable humming equipment. Naturally, with so much technology, there must be something of the "X-Files" category going on.
A small sign on a fence said that the facility was for Los Angeles water and power. Yea right. Like there was any visible power lines or water pipes on this mountain top. Not to mention we were no where near Los Angeles. Just who thinks up these signs anyway? We were not fooled for one minute. The sign was merely a ruse to throw off the public. We explore further.
We run across another building that was fenced off from access. It also had a sign. It said that the building was for air traffic control. This sounded somewhat believable. Yes, it appeared to be for air traffic control. ...for alien aircraft! Notice how the sign mentioned "life" but it was careful not to mention "human" life. Also it mentioned prosecution by "federal law", and as we all now the "F" in "F.B.I." stands for "Federal". Need I say more?
Looking downward, we can see a concealed small white building tucked into a fold of the mountain. This building was carefully positioned so that it could only be seen from the top of the mountain. What could this building be for? Maybe all this mountain top equipment was here just to keep a watch on the inhabitants of that building? Maybe the building was actually a secret entrance to a vast underground complex?
Radiation and More
After exploring further, we run across a building at the far end of the complex. I had some particularly large pipes and wires coming out of it. Also, it was adorned with a sign that said "Danger Radiation". The radiation must be pretty strong since the red pigment for the word "Danger" was nearly burned off of the sign.
We also discover a strange low container bearing some weird protrusions and a sign labeled "leak detector tube". I only had two questions.
1) Just what was in that container? and
2) Were leaks so common that they needed to install a detector tube?
Dwight noticed that there was no life near this facility. Not a bird, lizard, ant, or anything. With all these signs about radiation and leaks, we decided to depart. Can you blame us?
Important Safety Tip:
Avoid areas with radiation and leaks, especially when indigenous life cannot live in the area.
As we turn to go, we notice that there is a fantastic view from this mountain top! Forgetting the radiation and leaks, we stop and look. [Dang! We sure are easily distracted.]
We can see Las Vegas in the distance. This would be a great place to view Las Vegas if it was at night. All the hotels were visible, but details like cars and people were not. Too far. If only there were some way to get a little closer.
It was then that Dwight discovered a scaffold that extended out over the edge of the cliff. This scaffold led to nowhere and appeared to serve no purpose whatsoever. It fit in with the rest of the facility. By this time, we weren't surprised by any unexplained thing we saw here. The scaffold was facing toward Las Vegas and was just the thing to get a little closer for a better view. How convenient.
The scaffold was made of wood. With all the radiation and leaks in the area, I was surprised it hadn't dissolved away. It was big enough to walk on and it would provide a better view of Las Vegas. However, only a fool would actually step out onto it. One person decided to venture forth. This person shall forever remain unidentified and kept secret because only a crazy person would walk on the scaffold. Yup, completely insane. You will never know who the volunteer was. Don't bother emailing me or asking anyone because you'll never find out. Not in a million years. However, the view of Las Vegas from the scaffold was fantastic! I could even see cars and people.
As we head down the mountain, we examine the map to decide where to go next. Further west of our position is a location marked as the "Green Monster Mine". There was a dirt road marked that would go right past it.
We head toward the Green Monster Mine, or so we thought. After several miles we reach Sandy Valley, not the Green Monster Mine. Oh, we could see the mine a few miles away on the side of a mountain, but there just didn't seem to be any roads leading to it. After tracking and backtracking around the area, Dwight discovers a faint trace (nearly invisible) of a dirt road toward the mine. Way to go, Dwight! A half mile later and we are at the base of the mine. The road didn't stop exactly at the entrance, but rather about 50 feet down the slope.
Break for Lunch
This is the perfect time to break for lunch -- so we do. We "feast" on a few sandwiches that Ted brought, even though there were not enough to go around. <sigh> As the rest of the party finishes lunch, I climb up the slope toward the mine.
Green Monster Mine
The entrance to the mine is very steep. There were wood sticks to brace the mine and they didn't look very sturdy.
At the entrance to the mine I can see that there is another entrance to the mine about 1/4 mile away. We pack up and follow more invisible dirt roads to that mine entrance. This entrance also required a small climb to reach it. The entrance was similar to the previous -- nearly vertical and braced with sticks. It was a bigger entrance, but still inaccessible.
Vertical shaftOn the way down from the second mine entrance, Maria decides to toboggan down the slope. I wish I thought of doing that. There were several vertical shafts in the area. Most were not marked and so we had to tread carefully. We dropped a rock down one and it took over 4 seconds to hit bottom. This works out to be a depth of over 250 feet. Yikes! This mine is a 'monster'. The 'green' in the Green Monster Mine comes from the rocks which have a distinctly green color. Apparently this mine extracted copper ore (or so we presumed).
In the vicinity there were ruins of a mining town and metallic evidence of previous habitation.
Abandoned Mining Town
Near the Green Monster Mine were the remains of many houses. Only the foundations (such as they were) were left. We scoured the area looking for artifacts and other treasures. A metal detector would have come in handy here.
Among the treasures found were:
- a piece of mine cart
- a nail
- 9mm shells
- metal disks
- copper ore
- purple glass fragments
In addition to the abandoned remains of human dwellings, we found the abandoned remains of an insect dwelling. A very large ant hill to be precise. The ants must have been humongous because the entrance was about an inch wide. The ants had left the area just as the previous human residents had. I can only wonder why.
Cans, Cans, Cans
I almost forgot the mention the other item in the area. Cans. And more Cans. First, there was a trail of cans. These cans led to more cans and then eventually to a field of cans. There were cans as far as the eye could see. All the cans had one common characteristic -- they were rusted beyond recognition. Dwight discovered a can that had a key attached! [Yes, Dwight discovered yet another cool thing. Some guys have all the luck.] This was the kind of key used to roll back the can lid just like a can of sardines. They were cool. I wanted one too.
It now turned into a key hunt. Everyone had to find a key. It wasn't fair to be given a key; each of us must find our very own. We looked and looked. We became obsessed. All one could hear was the chant "key, must find key" whispering through the air as we searched. Oh, that, and the incessant racket of clanking cans being kicked around.
(to the tune of Armor Hot Dogs jingle)
There were fat cans, skinny cans,
cans that lie on rocks.
Big cans, rusty cans,
even cans with tetanus pox.
rusty keyed cans,
the cans we love to find!
Eventually we all found a key. Dwight, naturally, found about 20 keys. It was decided that the key will be the symbol of this trip. If you have a can key, then you have the official memento of the Green Monster Mine trip of January 1st, 1998. The Green Monster Mine Explorer Key entitles you to all the rights and privileges thereof.
The Trip Home
It was getting dark and this is the sign to return home. It was getting dark fast! Here we were, in the dark, in the middle of the desert trying to travel on a faint dirt road that was invisible even in bright sunlight. Fortunately, we eventually made it to the main dirt road leading to Sandy Valley. This road lead to the paved road that connects Las Vegas with Pahrump. It was clear sailing home.
Ted mentioned that there was some "site" located on this road. At about the point were this location would be we saw a turn off. Yes, there was an official looking sign. It was getting cold so I didn't have time to read it. However, I really wanted to know what this sign said, so I snapped a picture of it in order to read later. Mike used the spotlight on the sign so that I would get plenty of light in order to not miss a single word in the photograph. The result of that picture is below. Fantastic.
We returned to Las Vegas (by way of Red Rock Canyon) without further incident. And so ends another field trip.