Every Man’s Musings: One of the Oldest Mines in North America

Camp Verde Salt Mine Gary Every | Crier

Camp Verde Salt Mine Gary Every | Crier

Special to the Crier

The guidebooks directing me to the Camp Verde salt mine

are short and sort of vague.  I was directed to the correct road, Salt Mine Road and then the instructions said only to look for a bright white hill.  I am worried I might drive right past the salt mine.  Instead, the bright white hills of the salt mine stand out like a sore thumb on the landscape.  I park the car and walk through the gate.  The guidebook also mentioned being sure to bring sunglasses and as soon as I entered the gates the glare off the bright white hills was blinding.

I walk through the narrow gates and a short path takes me to the remains of some sort of mine mechanism, almost all that is left of what was once a thriving commercial operation is dozens of rotting timbers, hulks of rusting machinery and a few crumbling foundations.  Much of the wood has salt crystals growing upon it as if the salt is intent on slowly conquering the world one crystal at a time, spreading slowly across the landscape like an invading fungus.  There are large iron relics scattered across the basin, movers, shakers and sorters from when the mine was active.  The Camp Verde salt mine was active in the 1920’s and 30’s but when they first started digging, the miners unearthed unexpected treasure.  According to author Roger Naylor “During the 1920’s, employees of the mine’s operators, Western Chemical, began unearthing artifacts such as woven yucca sandals, ax handles and torches.  After a mummified body was discovered, an anthropologist was brought in.  Ancient tunnels were found, and it was determined that salt was mined throughout the Sinagua era, about 1100 to 1400 AD.”  This makes the Camp Verde salt mines one of the oldest underground mines in North America.

It is a cool and somewhat other worldly looking place to wander around.  There is not a lot of plant life, scraggly bushes scattered here and there.  Most of the earth is normal looking, although a little parched, but anywhere there is erosion the salt is exposed.  In places where entire hillsides have been exposed the bright white glare is almost blinding.  Two ravines snake through the shallow valley side by side, one is brown dirt and the other is bright white.  Large pieces of metal machinery appear here and there.  I try and guess the purpose of some of the decaying timbers and their crumbling foundations.  Here and there, in little white pockets, small mountains of crystals build into little exquisite, exotic peaks and towers.  It looks like a miniature movie set for a beautiful fantasy with wizards and elves.

The Camp Verde salt mine has long been a favorite for the state’s rock hounds.  According to Gem Trails of Arizona, crystallized specimens of halite, glauberite, gypsum, calcite, aragonite, and kyanite can be found there as well as many other lesser known minerals.  The Verde Valley Archeology Center in Camp Verde is currently working in a partnership with the Forest Service to preserve the mine as a heritage sight.  So if you are in the Camp Verde area drop in at the old salt mine which is located off the side of Salt Mine Road –just look for the bright white hills and you can’t miss it.

Gary Every (7 Posts)

Gary Every is an award winning author who has won consecutive Arizona Newspaper Awards for best lifestyle feature for pieces “The Apache Naichee Ceremony” and “Losing Geronimo’s Language”.  The best of the first decade of his newspaper columns for The Oracle newspaper were compiled by Ellie Mattausch into a book titled Shadow of the OhshaD.  Mr. Every has also been a four time finalist for the Rhysling Award for years best science fiction poetry.  Mr. Every is the author of ten books and his books such as Shadow of the Ohshad or the steampunk thriller The Saint and The Robot are available either through Amazon or www.garyevery.com.


Comments are closed.

  • Stories Just Posted

    Pastor’s Corner: Walk Daily in God’s Love

    July 29th, 2014
    by

    In Isaiah 59:2 it says that our iniquities or sins, have separated us from our God.  Just before that, we are


    Guests visit Superior Rotary

    July 29th, 2014
    by

    Superior Sun The Superior Rotary had two guest speakers, Larry Bravo who is the incumbent candidate for the Justice of the Peace and John Tameron who is running for the


    Superior Police Report

    July 29th, 2014
    by

    According to state law, police may arrest suspected offenders by two methods. The suspect may be physically taken into the department and booked into jail, or the arresting officer may write


    Superior Farmer’s Market robbed; police seek information

    July 29th, 2014
    by

    Armed robbers last Friday held up the Superior Farmer’s Market and absconded with an unknown amount of money, according to the Superior Police Department.


  • Stories Just For You

    Tree Workshop presented at Oracle Fire Department

    July 29th, 2014
    by

    San Manuel Miner Oracle Firewise teamed up with the Arizona Forestry Division to host a Tree Workshop presented by the Arizona Community Tree Council.


    Sea Lions win eighth straight championship

    July 22nd, 2014
    by

    The Sea Lions swim team hosted the Central Arizona League Championship Swim Meet on Saturday at the San Manuel Swimming Pool.


    Oracle protest makes national news, protest remains peaceful

    July 22nd, 2014
    by

    San Manuel Miner The small town of Oracle, Ariz. became known nationwide last week as it became a focal point of the immigration debate.


    Rios weighs in on protests

    July 16th, 2014
    by

    The Pinal County taxpayers dodged a bullet this past Tuesday as a game of political theatre became nothing but a […]


  • Facebook

  • [Advertisement.]
  • Arizona Headlines & Current Weather