Back in 2012, one of my mine exploring trips got canceled at the last minute, so I suddenly had some free time on my hands. I decided to try to find a supposed arrastra and petroglyph site out in the Mojave desert. Arrastras are always fun to find because they are so rare besides being historical. Petroglyphs are more common but can be equally difficult to locate. (Not to mention, they are both cool.)
This particular spot wasn’t a place that I had been to before, so I didn’t know what to expect. The tip I had on the location seemed right on the mark. So, full of confidence, off I went to find them. I’d be done by noon!
After a long drive across the Mojave desert on bumpy roads, I got my old truck near the site. The wash was just a little too narrow for me to drive down. That’s ok, as I am out of shape and need the exercise.
I didn’t know exactly where that old arrastra might be, so I would have to scout around for it. That’s normal. My target is this lonely spring. You need water for an arrastra, so it should be here, right? (You already know where I am going with this.)
The spring was pretty boring. Just a willow and cottonwood tree and a whole lot of sand. (No surface water.) It's a nice spot to perhaps have some lunch but no arrastra. Or at least there was no arrastra that I could see. It could be hidden deep in the bushes. It sure didn’t look like it, though. No petroglyphs either. Hmm…
There was evidence of some prospecting, though. On the other side of the spring, someone built a sizable earthen dam. I assume this was an effort to catch rainwater from flash floods. Perhaps it could have been to protect something downstream? I hiked downstream for a while but I didn’t see anything besides some pieces of tin and wood.
By now, I had hiked all around the spring. I was puzzled and had basically given up on finding anything. That was fine. It was good to be out in the desert. It wasn’t too hot yet. I was hiking and getting used to looking for rattlesnakes again. It seemed like it had been a long winter.
As I was hiking back towards my truck, I noticed some tin cans above the wash. Well, this had to be investigated. I found scant remains of a prospector’s cabin. This camp is completely out of view from the wash, and I missed it on the hike in.
I explored around and found a second cabin site, nearly completely hidden in the granite boulders. This one had more wood and debris left. From there, I found the trace of an old trail, and I followed it up the hillside. It led to a small mine prospect. It wasn’t much at all. I hiked around some more but found nothing else.
It turned out to be an interesting spot, even though I really didn’t find that much. I haven’t found the real name of this prospect or any of its history. It was never a large producer, that’s for sure. Still, it would be interesting to know more about it. I drove on to another spring in the area but didn’t find anything there either.
Luckily, though, I eventually did find the Belden Arrastra.