Daytrip – Azurite and Oro Mines at Sandy Valley

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(Fig. 01)
Sandy Valley Mines-2
(Fig. 02)
Directions: Leaving from the Stratosphere, get on the I-15 South. Go 24 miles and take the NV-161 exit, EXIT 12, toward Jean/Goodsprings. Leaving Jean head west on Route 161 towards Goodsprings. As it passes through Goodsprings Valley, just before the town of Goodsprings, 161 turn into Sandy Valley Rd, following along an area that is know as the Columbia Pass. Follow this road approximately 11-12 miles to the outskirts of Sandy Valley. There are then two dirt roads that lead to this area (Fig. 02). The first is on the right side of Sandy Valley Road opposite the Shenandoah Mill. The second is Kingston Road, which is about a mile and a half further on the right. The mines are located on the southwestern slopes of the Shenandoah Mountains (Fig. 02).
Azurite Mine-2
(Fig. 03)
Mine Description: A a group of mining claims, known as the Azurite claims, along the north slope of a high ridge that extends west from the Boss mine, that are all within in the original Goodsprings Mining District. The view in (Fig. 01) was taken from Sandy Valley road on the eastern edge of town. By clicking to enlarge, and looking carefully, you can see the upper mine opening and overage in the middle of the picture. The first claim was found in 1899 by W.H. Smith and C.W. Cook, and most of the other claims prior to 1903. The first work was done by the Nevada Mining and Smelting Co., which is reported to have shipped two cars of copper ore prior to 1902. This resulted in the organization of the Nevada Copper Co. in 1902, and, although it did considerable work, shipped only one car of ore before the Azurite Mining Co. was organized in 1911. From 1916 and 1917 most work was done by lessees. The workings on the Azurite claim include three main adits, the lower, middle and upper. The main adit is a tunnel approximately 260 feet long trending generally southwest from approximately 260 feet above Shenandoh Gulch. The ore from this claim came from two blind levels, 12 and 35 feet higher. On the Gulch claim, below the Azurite, there is a shaft inclined at 30 degrees for 50 feet, then vertical for a 120 feet , but this is not accessible. On the Rosella claim, there is a lower tunnel 390 feet long, which developed no ore, and an upper tunnel 200 feet higher and 50 feet long, at the end of which there is a 40 foot inclined shaft. This claim yielded all the lead and zinc ore that has been shipped. Copper ore was the main ore shipped from this mine. Lead and zinc were secondary ores shipped, with some gold and silver ore.
09/10/2014 Trip Notes: Though we started out on the 4WD road opposite the Shenandoah Mill, we ended up backtracking and driving further up Sandy Valley Road to Kingston Road because we felt that we were heading in the wrong direction. Turns out our first inclination was the right one. As we ended up heading south on this road from where it intersects Kingston Road, we actually ended up with a longer hike due to a washout in the road (Fig. 02 & 03). The next shot (Fig. 04) is a picture of Harvey looking up at the steep hill that we had to climb in order to reach the mine. In total the path we hiked from where we parked to the upper adit was about a mile in length with a total elevation gain of approximately 325 feet. As we neared the top of the road up, the sun was just peering over the top of the ridgeline (Fig. 05). Off to the south we were able to spot the Boss Mine (Figs. 06 & 07). This was originally on our list of mines to explore today, however, because of the rather steep climb to reach it, we decided to leave it for another day. Discovered in 1886, the Boss Mines main production was copper, gold and platinium. All total, production of the Boss mine was estimated to be about 3,500 tons of ore with a gross value of around $210,000. The wooden structure at the top of the road to the Azurite Mine (Fig. 08) appeared to be the top of a cable-way that carried the ore to the valley below. (con’t below)
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(Fig. 05)
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(Fig. 08)
After entering the lower adit (Fig. 09 & 10) we eventually came to a shaky, planked area (Fig. 11)that covered a rather deep shaft that ended any further exploration. The middle shaft (Fig. 12 & 13) appeared to be the most worked. It had considerable framing, shutes to and from different levels, and the remnants of ore cart tracks for hauling the ore out. Unfortunately my interior shots didn't come out very well. The upper shaft seemed more like a natural cavern (Figs. 14-16). It was huge. We were able to explore several hundred feet into this area and found numerous numbered shafts and side adits from which ore was obviously taken. Though we never found any Azurite, there were several areas where we could still see veins of Malachite (Fig. 17).
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(Fig. 11)
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(Fig. 14)
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(Fig. 17)
Azurite: Azurite occurs also as veins and incrustations and in massive, radiated, and earthy forms associated with malachite and other copper compounds. Its most frequent associate is malachite, into which it readily alters. Azurite is more often found in crystals than is malachite. The mineral occurs in the oxidized zone of copper veins and related deposits. It is an intermediate product in the change of other copper compounds to malachite.  It is widely distributed with copper ores, but not so common as malachite. The crystals are tabular, prismatic, or wedge-shaped monoclinic forms. Some crystals are complex and distorted in development, sometimes in radiating spherical groups with a radiating botryoidal structure.
Malachite is a frequent decomposition product of other copper minerals, being formed rapidly in moist places through the combination of copper and carbon dioxide from the air or dissolved from limestones. It occurs abundantly in the upper oxidized portions of veins and other deposits of copper ore, where it is associated with azurite. It is Sometimes earthy or dull in massive forms.

The view of Shenandoah Gulch and the town of Sandy Valley (Fig. 18) from the upper reaches of the site were outstanding, making the climb well worth the effort. After several hours of exploration we finally started heading back down the way we had come (Fig. 19). Once we reached the truck, we drove further up Kingston Road to the Oro Mine. Click here for pictures and information on this mine … Oro Amigo Mine.
(Fig. 18)
(Fig. 19)