El Dorado Mine

James “Chuckwalla Jim” Wilson discovered a rich gold-bearing outcrop of rock in this canyon in 1901. He called it the El Dorado (also spelled Eldorado). Wilson loaded small batches of ore on burros to be processed over at the mill at Pinyon Well, and all the way to an arrastra in Twentynine Palms.

Wilson sold his claims to John White in 1903. White set up a camp at the mine but soon ran out of money. He got some investors from Los Angeles involved, and by 1907 they formed the New El Dorado Consolidated Mining Co. They improved the camp and built a five-stamp mill. (It was later enlarged to ten stamps.) Water for the mill and camp was piped in from Pinyon Well, some nine miles away. Fred Vaile was brought in as superintendent in 1912, and by 1918 they had produced $100,000 worth of gold from the mine. Development consisted of a 500-foot deep shaft sunk on the vein with drifts on the 100 ft, 200 ft, 300 ft, 450 ft, and 500 ft levels. Mine equipment included a 15-hp. gas engine hoist. Mill equipment eventually consisted of ten 1000-pound stamps, a Wilfley concentrating table, and cyanide tanks driven by a 25-h.p. gas engine. This was a substantial mine by Joshua Tree standards.

The high-grade ore body was soon exhausted, and by 1922, the mine had shut down. The claims were leased out sporadically with some minor work done until 1939, when the mine was closed for good and the mill hauled off.

Not much remains at the site today; a couple of cyanide and water tanks are the most obvious, but walk across the wash to find a few fallen cabins that were once residences for the miners.