CA, Death Valley

"MacClatchie Power" Mine

A long hike into the Death Valley region led us to this small mining operation. Judging from the artifacts found at the site, the mine was probably worked during the 1930s Depression and WWII eras. Inside the mine is an ore car, which is always an amazing find. And seeing a working ore car in a mine is a real treat but what makes this mine site unique is the strange engine at the mine; the MacClatchie Power Unit.

Power to run the equipment at the mine came from a MacClatchie Power Unit made by the MacClatchie Panther Company. I’d never seen one or heard of them before so, of course, I looked them up. The MacClatchie Panther Company made experimental aircraft engines and, similar in design to a rotary aircraft engine, this is a vertically-mounted rotary engine well pump. This engine, instead of being mounted on top of a water well, is mounted on top of an automobile drive shaft and axle. The wheel on the axle would be used to power whatever mine equipment was needed for the mine.

The ingenuity of miners never ceases to amaze me. One wonders where this lone prospector got this engine or how he got it up here in such remote country without any roads.

These photos are from a couple of trips in 2018.

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About Guy Starbuck

Exploring the American West.
  • Nevada
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