Thursday

E-mail from Bill Jones re: Simonds/Crescent Peak Mine

Back on 13 December 2013 I received the following email from a Mr. Bill Jones:
             
“Found your blog when searching for information on Crescent Peak / Simmonds mine.
I worked for several months in 1976 at the Old Aztec Mine, aka Simmonds Mine. I lived in Searchlight at the time. I have to say it was the most favorite job I've had. Lots of hard labor with sledge hammers and rock picks.
I worked there with a childhood friend and as I recall, now keep in mind this was over 35 years ago so my memory is a little fuzzy, the others that worked there at the time were Ken, he had the lease on the mine and was a geologist, Big Jim was the mine foreman, cat skinner, and powder monkey, Dan was the camp cook, watchman, and did the rough cleanup of the stone. Some of the stone was sold to a Navajo family in Searchlight that made jewelry. They were incredible silversmiths and made awesome jewelry especially squash blossoms. I don’t recall where else they sold the stone.

Much of the turquoise was gem quality, pure blues, greens, and a lot of dark blues and greens with black matrix. We heard somewhere that a green stone that came from the mine in the early 1900s was called Tiffany Green and the jewelry made from it was sold exclusively by Tiffany's.
We would find turquoise that was still putty like and white, also pale blue and green soft and hard chalk. The turquoise was mostly nugget that ran in quartz veins that were about a quarter inch up to a foot wide. The nuggets that we kept were from about half inch on up to one to two inch diameter. Some of the blues were stunningly beautiful, dark with just the right amount of jet black matrix. We would occasionally find some larger nuggets some the size of softballs. Once we found a nugget that would have been over 20 lbs but unfortunately it was in four pieces fractured probably by blasting.

The “floor” and / or the high side of the open pit we worked in would be low yield blasted and the floor would be ripped with the D9 Cat. What was left was a bunch of rocks and boulders with quartz veins and turquoise in them. We would pick up any loose nuggets then attack the rocks and boulders with sledge hammers to get to the quartz / turquoise. We would eventually get to rock hammers for the smaller rocks and to get the stone out of the exposed quartz on the sides of he pit. When the pit was first blasted and ripped we would get several 5 gallon buckets of nuggets in a few days.

There was also two adits one that was supposedly worked by the Aztecs the other by Simmons. We would occasionally work those for short times; there was no ventilation so we could not stay in them for too long. Some really high quality stone was in those mines.

Ken would let us keep nuggets as long as what was in our pocket was not more than what was in our bucket He had to approve of what we wanted to keep. We never had to give any nuggets up. We also found an occasional gold in quartz and some silver which we could also keep. He did say if we started finding too much gold he might have changed his mind about that.

About once a week or so Ken would take us exploring on Crescent Peak / Mtn. He would find all kinds of neat rocks and minerals and educate us about them and the geology. When the bottom fell out of the turquoise market we were laid off. Later there was some drama with the mine owner over the lease. It ended up in court.

This last summer my family attempted to find the mine. I think the mine is within the area of the mining operation you had photos of. It would be a shame if they have just "bulldozed" the Turquoise mine that I worked in although from looking at Google Maps the Turquoise mine may be further up the side of the mountain.
I really enjoyed reading your blog and your photos are amazing.”
                            Click here to return to [Crescent Peak Mine Road page]

Crescent Peak Mine Road

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(Fig. 01)
Crescent Mining District-2
(Fig. 02)
Directions: From the Stratosphere Casino head northeast on Las Vegas Blvd about 3 miles and bear right to merge onto US-515/93/95 south towards Boulder City. Follow US-93/95 for 17 miles and then merge onto US-95 South (Veterans Memorial Hwy) toward Searchlight/ Laughlin/ Needles. When you reach Searchlight, about 36 miles, turn right, west, onto NV-164 (aka Nipton Rd and Joshua Tree Highway) towards Nipton. Travel about 12 miles west of Searchlight and turn left onto Crescent Peak Road. Follow this dirt road for about 3 miles until you reach a fork in the road with a sign indicating that continued vehicular traffic toward the Crescent Mine is prohibited. Bear right and stop and park at the top of the hill. Distance from Point of Origin: 65 miles. Estimated (One Way) Travel Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Mining History: The turquoise mine at Crescent Peak was “re-discovered” in 1889 or 1890 by a George Simmons. A review of the site revealed the remains of rude dugouts with collapsed roofs of logs and brush. From a study of the growth rings in the logs found in the fallen roofs, and a study of nearby implements (broken pottery and the remains of a lapidary shop), archaeologists estimated the mine must have been worked and abandoned 200 years before Columbus reached America. From what I have been able to piece together, somewhere around 1894 an area centered around Crescent Peak, between the northern New York Mountains and the southern end of the McCullough Range, located about 12 miles west of Searchlight, became known as the Crescent Peak, a.k.a. New York, a.k.a Timber Mountain Mining District. Over the past 125 years the mines at Crescent Peak have been know by a variety of names, including the Simmons Mine, the Turquoise Mine, the Aztec Mine, Right Blue Mine and the Crescent Peak Mine. It is about 12 line miles west of Searchlight in the basin on the south and west flanks of Crescent Peak. During early operation of the Simmons mine, numerous occurrences of turquoise were prospected for a radius of about a mile from the main mine area. In 1896 Simmons sold the mine to his partner, J.R. Woods who renamed it The Turquoise Mine. He abandoned it when the ore dwindled to a point where it could no longer be mined profitably at decreased prices. Over the years, a number of miners worked the veins and abandoned them. The next registered owner and operator was O. R. Spear who bought the original claims at a tax sale. Spear died in 1965. After that it was worked by various people who purchased leases on the claims. In December of 2013 I received an email from Bill Jones recounting that he worked the mine back in 1976. Click here to read … E-mail from Bill Jones.  Though it’s unclear when the family actually purchased the claims, the current owners are Randall "Bubba" Crank and his sister Marquetta San Romanm. For a more detailed background and history of this famous mine, click this link: A History of Crescent Peak Mine. Today there is evidence of many prospects that attest to this mine’s vigorous activity. More recently, a turquoise called Lucky Peak Turquoise has been mined from a new deposit "somewhere" in Crescent Valley, Nevada. Containing beautiful shades of green and blue, the blue is getting harder and darker as they get deeper in the mine.

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(Fig. 03)
Area Description: Stopping at the parking location indicated in the directions above (Fig. 02) provides the opportunity for some great views and some very pleasant desert hiking. However, it should be noted that hiking northeast, towards the Crescent Peak Mine itself, should be avoided. This well posted area is private property (Fig. 03) and contains dangerous, ongoing mining operations that need to be avoided. There are a couple of large washes offering great views of Crescent Peak that run parallel to the road that also make for some nice hiking. Crescent peak is the prominent pyramid shaped peak (Fig. 01) on the northeast end of the New York Mountain range on the south side of Nipton Road just east of the town of Nipton, CA. This rarely visited peak provides stunning views in all directions. The summit, at 5,994 feet, provides views of the Ivanpah Valley as well the peaks of McCullough Mountain, Hart Peak, Castle Peak, Clark Mountain, Kingston Peak, and Spirit Mountain. This is a rugged desert peak that should not be overlooked. Depending upon the time of year, you will experience a wide variety of desert flora when hiking this area.
                           
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(Fig. 04)
10/22/2016 Trip Notes: I took my hiking partner Jim Herring to this location to show him some of the old gold mining structures (Fig. 04a) in the area. While hiking around this area, we also spotted some long-eared rabbits and lizards (Fig. 04b and 04c).

(Fig. 04a)
(Fig. 04b)
(Fig. 04c)

09/25/2014 Trip Notes: Our second stop of the day along Nipton Road was near the end of Crescent Peak Road, just shy of the Crescent Peak Mine.  On todays visit I only captured a handful of pictures, the majority of which I turned into the collage found below (Fig. 5).  I let my hiking partner for the day, “Buster” Brown, upper right of  (Fig. 5), lead me to a spot about a quarter mile northwest of the spot where Bill normally parks the van. After some hiking along a small wash, upper left of (Fig. 5), we climbed up a small hill that was capped with a large outcrop of quartz (Fig. 04) and middle left of (Fig. 5). Hiking to the backside of this large quartz mound revealed a small exploratory adit, middle right of (Fig. 5). Although the discovery of gold is often associated with quartz, it didn't appear that any was found here. The top of this hill provided some nice views of the surrounding area, including the now complete Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) seen in the distance of the bottom picture in the collage. For a better view of the solar facility, refer to the close-up shot in (Fig. 6). For more information on this, visit my page on Nipton California, the final stop on today's daytrip.
                                              
2014 Crescent Peak Mine
(Fig. 05)
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(Fig. 06)
09/30/2013 Trip Notes: My friend Harvey Smith and I decided to spend a day 4-wheeling around the mines surrounding the Crescent Peak area off Nipton Road. We drove along three different roads that led us out into the desert. One took us to an area called Clarks Well (Fig. 02). A second road took us to a radio tower on the ridge of the New York Mountains. The third took us to California and the boundary of the Mojave National Preserve. After this we drove back down Crescent Peak Road to the Big Tiger Wash that runs along Nipton Road (Fig. 02) and into an area on the north-western flank of Crescent Peak. Here we located the remains of the Nippeno Mine (Fig. 02). We found the size of this mine to be quite surprising. Unfortunately, many of the roads in this area are marked “private – no trespassing”, thereby limiting our exploration efforts ... Crescent Peak & Nippeno Mine.

09/19/2013 Trip Notes: On this visit I hiked a wash that skirted the Crescent Peak Mine property, capturing pictures of the surrounding flora. Click here for information and pictures of flowers taken on this trip ... Update 09/19/2013 - Crescent Peak Mine Road.

04/04/2013 Trip Notes: On this visit to the area, Buster and I began hiking in a southwest direction from our parking area. We started out following a rather unused dirt road that eventually just turned into a wash. We passed a ‘dump’ area with a couple of old cars/trucks (Figs. 07 & 08) and other trash that people were using for target practice. Probably what I considered my best 'find of the day’ were the pictures I took of a Desert Spiny Lizard (Fig. 09) that Buster found sunning on top of an old mine timber. Click the following link to learn more about this spiny little fella … Desert Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus magister). Though sparse, I did manage to capture a few shots of some desert flowers and plants  that were blooming along our hiking path. A Dune Evening Primrose (Fig. 10), an Indian Paint Brush (Fig. 11), and more (Figs. 12 & 13).
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(Fig. 07)
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(Fig. 08)
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(Fig. 09)
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(Fig. 10)
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(Fig. 11)
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(Fig. 12)
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(Fig. 13)
10/04/2012 Trip Notes: On today’s trip with the rock-hounds, because we spent so much time hiking Walking Box Ranch Road, there just wasn't enough time to do any real extended hiking here. Maybe next time. On our way back to the van, we walked a wash paralleling the road (Fig. 14) that was filled with a variety of vegetation and plant life that provided some color to our hike. Besides a large number of Joshua Trees, Mojave Yuccas, Rabbitbrush and the ever common Creosote Bush, there were quite a few Indian Paintbrush (Fig. 15) and a spring perennial with very distinctive wispy plumes called Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa) (Fig. 16). The closeup of this flower (Fig. 18) was provided by fellow hiker, Kathy Pool.  I’m still in the process of trying to identify the plant in (Fig. 17), though I think it might be Notch-leaf Phacelia (Phacelia crenulata). If anyone has more knowledge of these, you can email me atkccandcj@yahoo.com with additional info.
                                                 
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(Fig. 14)
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(Fig. 15)
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(Fig. 16)
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(Fig. 17)
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(Fig. 18)
01/26/2012 Trip Notes: Even though we spent some time at the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area, we spent the majority of our time hiking around the Crescent Peak area. Though I did not take any pictures at Wee Thump on this trip, you can view pictures from previous hikes here by clicking the following link … Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area.  Once we reached the parking area near the entrance road to the Crescent Mine, I hiked the wash on the left side of the road as it led up a hill towards the mine. The picture in (Fig. 19) was taken from a spot just south of the mine; looking towards the southwest and shows the wash area that I hiked to this point. The mountain ranges in the background are actually in California. Figures 20 and 21 show some of the cactus I passed while hiking through the wash.
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(Fig. 19)
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(Fig. 20)
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(Fig. 21)

Monday

Daytrip – Red Rock Canyon Back Country Byway

EP2-P1080011-P108001509/17/2014 Trip Notes: The 13-mile long Red Rock Canyon Back Country Byway is the jumping off point for no less than a dozen hikes within the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Besides using it to get to numerous hiking trailheads, just driving around it provides some of the most scenic views in the Las Vegas valley. For more pictures and information on this visit, click on the following link … Red Rock Canyon Back Country Byway.

Sunday

Daytrip – Cold Creek, Nevada

EP-P1070949Last week I took some visiting company to Cold Creek, Nevada to see the wild horses that roam the area. Even though I was not surprised by the number of horses we found, I was pleasantly pleased by the vast array of coat colors that we encountered, including a beautiful palomino. For more pictures and information on this visit, click on the following link … Cold Creek Trip Notes for 09/16/2014.

Thursday

Daytrip – Azurite and Oro Amigo Mines

EP-P1070842Last week Harvey Smith and I spent the day touring two mines off Kingston Road just northeast of Sandy Valley. Even though we were able to drive to the base of each mine, in both cases we had to hike about 350 feet up the sides of Shenandoah Ridge in order to reach them. For pictures and information on both of these mines, click on the following links … Azurite Mines at Sandy Valley and Oro Amigo Mine at Sandy Valley.
 

Sunday

Daytrip – Pioche & Crystal Rock Wash Art Site

EP-P1070777Last week Harvey Smith and I took a trip to Pioche to do some riding on the quads. On the was back we explored the Crystal Wash Rock Art Site off highway 93. This was one of the more interesting rock art sites I have visited. There is evidence that a culture known as the Pahranagats used this site as a winter habitation. For more information and pictures on each of these visits, click the following links … Pioche Nevada and the Crystal Wash Rock Art Site.

Monday

Red Rock Canyon Back Country Byway

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(Fig. 01)
MAP-Red Rock Canyon
(Fig. 02)
Description: Red Rock Canyon Back Country Byway, a.k.a Scenic Drive, is a one-way, 13 mile paved loop road (Fig. 02) that runs through the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. This area was created by geological forces and fractured faults that occurred over a million years ago. It starts out from the park’s visitor center and heads northwest into the Calico Hills (Figs. 03 & 04) where sandstone hills have been separated by a series of canyons. Looking southeast from the Calico I turnoff provides a good view of the Blue Diamond Hills (Fig. 05). A few miles up the road at the end of the red Calico Hills outcrop is the Sandstone Quarry (Fig. 06), an area of white sandstone and a parking area that has no less than five trailheads leading into the surrounding hills and mountains. Leaving the Sandstone Quarry, still driving in a northwesterly direction, the drive continues to climb passing several pullouts until it reaches what is called High Point Overlook which is just above 4,000 feet of elevation, providing spectacular panoramic views (Figs. 01 & 07) of the canyon, Cottonwood Valley, and its surrounding beauty. Shortly after High Point Overlook the road heads south as it passes the turnoff for the parking area and trailhead for the White Rock trail (Fig. 08). Continuing on for about another two miles, a road branches off to Willow Springs (Fig. 09). Here, the road makes a sharp hairpin turn and begins heading in a southeast direction. A short distance past this turn is a turnoff and trailhead to Ice Box Canyon, which contains a seasonal waterfall. Continuing the loop, the next stop is at the Red Rock Wash Overlook, a spot that provides another scenic perspective of Red Rock Canyon. About a mile past the wash turnoff is the trailhead for Pine Creek Canyon (Fig. 10). When you reach the end of the drive at NV-159, turn left and drive about a mile to the Red Rock Canyon Overlook. This spot provides wonderful views of the Wilson Range to the west (Fig. 11) and back towards the Calico Hills to the north (Fig. 12).
                                               
09/17/2014 Trip Notes: This 13 mile byway provides access to no less than 12 hiking trails within the park’s boundaries. Even though I have driven this loop numerous times over the past ten years, today’s visit was for expressed purpose of picture taking and showing it off to my sisters husband during their recent visit. Half of the pictures shown here were taken on today’s visit and the rest were culled from stops and hikes on some of my prior visits. I think you can see from these shots why this is one of my favorite places and a must stop for taking visitors.
                                 
EFP-P1080023One of the pleasant surprises for the day was the spotting of about six burros on our way home. Just after leaving the park and heading back to highway 160 on Blue Diamond Road, we had two different burro sightings. Check out the following page for more pictures … Wild Burro (Equus asinus) at Red Rock Canyon.
     
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(Fig. 03)
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(Fig. 04)
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(Fig. 05)
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(Fig. 06)
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(Fig. 07)
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(Fig. 08)
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(Fig. 09)
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(Fig. 10)
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(Fig. 11)
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(Fig. 12)

Trip Notes for 09/02/2014 – Pioche Nevada

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EFP-P1070750-P1070752
(Fig. 01) 
09/02/2014 Trip Notes: Harvey and I (Fig. 02 & 03) decided to get an early start and head out to Pioche, with the intent of bringing some of his equipment home. However once we got there, it was such a beautiful day we decided to take out the quads and do some desert riding. We spent nearly four hours riding around (Fig. 04) the Hamlight Flats and Lake Valley, east of Pioche. There are just miles of off road trails crisscrossing the valley in every direction. We mostly headed toward the Wilson Creek Mountain Range (Fig. 01) on the east side of the valley. Though our journey ended before reaching the mountain range, we enjoyed the ride and the scenery. With a temperature that was probably 10-15 degrees cooler than Vegas, the smog free air was a pleasure to breathe, except for Harvey’s occasional dust trail. We did manage to scare up a couple of jack rabbits (Fig. 05) along the way, although it was hard to get a good picture. The view in the last picture (Fig. 06) is looking back towards the town of Pioche from our final destination point. After our return and storing the equipment away for his next visit, we headed into town for lunch at their only restaurant before starting the journey home. For a little side diversion, on the way home we stopped at the Crystal Wash Rock Art Site. Check it out here … Crystal Wash Rock Art Site.
                                                   
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(Fig. 02)
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(Fig. 03)
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(Fig. 04)
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(Fig. 05)
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(Fig. 06)
Go to main page on Pioche - Roadtrip - Pioche, Nevada

Cold Creek – Trip Notes for 09/16/2014

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(Fig. 01)
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(Fig. 02)
09/16/2014 Trip Notes: During their visit from Lake Tahoe, I took my sister Bonnie and her husband Paul (Fig. 02), out to the town of Cold Creek (Fig. 01) to photograph the wild horses. The view in (Fig. 01) was taken from the north edge of town looking back down towards the Sheep Mountain Range and the desert flats that were once part of the governments’ atomic testing range. Even though rain had been predicted, it turned out to be a beautiful day and we got to see more than 25 horses during the time we spent there. Though both are into photography, Paul is now into shooting movie videos and took a lot of footage. They couldn’t believe how many horses we saw roaming the open desert and how tame they were. As you can see from just the handful of pictures below (Figs. 03 thru 07) out of the dozens that I took on today’s visit, we were presented with a wide variety of horses, ranging from beautiful chestnut brown stallions (Figs. 03 & 06), grey mares (Figs. 04 & 05), Pintos (Fig 97), to a palomino (Fig. 08).
                                                   
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(Fig. 03)
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(Fig. 04)
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(Fig. 05)
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(Fig. 06)
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(Fig. 07)
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(Fig. 08)

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