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

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

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 (11 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.


facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
facebooktwitterby feather

Comments are closed.

  • Stories Just Posted

    Maintenance work on SR 77 (Oracle Road) in Pinal County

    November 21st, 2014
    by

    The Arizona Department of Transportation will be shifting all northbound SR 77 (Oracle Road) traffic onto the left lane of […]


    Work on SR 77 in Catalina, north of Tucson

    November 21st, 2014
    by

    Motorists traveling on State Route 77 (Oracle Road), north of Oro Valley to Catalina, should be aware of the following […]


    Injury Leads AZGFD to Warn Against Walking Dogs Near Javelina, Feeding Them

    November 21st, 2014
    by

    TUCSON – The Arizona Game and Fish Department is investigating a weekend incident in which a resident of Tucson’s northwest […]


    Pinal County’s 1891 Courthouse Having Lights Installed for the Holidays

    November 21st, 2014
    by

    Florence – Pinal County’s Facilities Maintenance Department is getting the 1891 Courthouse in the holiday spirit. Director Tom Celaya and […]


  • Stories Just For You

    Tri-Community and La Casita get ‘thumbs up’ from Oro Valley cyclists

    November 18th, 2014
    by

    San Manuel Miner A group of cyclists stopped at La Casita in San Manuel to have breakfast.


    Arizona’s Oracle State Park Named World’s Twentieth International Dark Sky Park

    November 12th, 2014
    by

    Tucson – Nestled between the bright cities of Phoenix and Tucson, Oracle State Park Center for Environmental Education is a […]


    Mountain Vista Horsemanship Program open to students

    November 11th, 2014
    by

    San Manuel Miner The Mountain Vista Horsemanship Program is open to all Mt. Vista students.


    Artists speak during Teddy Talks at RLV Wilson Barn

    November 11th, 2014
    by

    San Manuel Miner Around 20 people attended the latest “Teddy Talks” at the Rancho Linda Vista Arts Wilson Barn on Tuesday, Npv.


  • Facebook

  • [Advertisement.]
  • Arizona Headlines & Current Weather

  • Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin