Porcupine Wash and Ruby Lee Millsite

Down in the southern end of Joshua Tree National Park, the park service has made a trailhead with an open invite to find your own way out to the old mining site of Ruby Lee Mill site and beyond.

The Park Service says the mill dates back to the 1870s. They probably know something I don't. I could only find evidence that the mill site dates from the Depression Era of the 1930s when many people were out in the desert looking for gold and trying to make a living. The mine and mill were claimed in March 1936 by a Ruby Lee Rule and later by A. Dietemann in 1948. Production from the mine is unknown, but it is unlikely it was very much.

Ruby Lee Well in 1972. Photo courtesy of the NPS

The mine itself is four miles off to the west from the millsite and much deeper into the hills. It consists of a minor series of shallow shafts and prospects.

I noticed the letters “M.W. 1933” carved into a granite boulder along the old road to the mill site. I’m unsure what “M.W.” stands for or who made this historic inscription; another backcountry mystery.

M.W. 1933