Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Oro Grande, New Mexico

Oro Grande, NM is just to the southeast of the Jarilla mountains. These mountains are dotted with hundreds of old mines. This brick structure was where the dynamite was stored a hundred years ago.

Brice is what Oro Grande was originally named. And the location was not down in the valley like it is now, but actually up in the Jarilla mountains.

In 1905 the population of Brice was about 150 people, and the town included a post office, store, saloon and several mining companies. The post office later closed, but by 1919 the population had increased to 300 people. And almost overnight, in 1920 Brice was a ghost town. This was not because the gold had been depleted, rather it was because the price of gold had decreased to the point where it was no longer economical to extract the gold.

A little less than a hundred years later virtually nothing exists of Brice. Wandering around the Jarillas today in four wheel drive I came across the Brice cemetery at N 32.40394, W -106.11081.

I turned my brother onto the Nannie Baird mine at N 32.40565, W -106.10055. Mike ended up spending a lot of time exploring it with his friends. He even camped out inside of it one time! I took my son Ben and his friend Javier to the main chamber in the bottom of the Nannie Baird mine to celebrate Ben’s birthday.

Today it is totally sealed up. There were several entrances, some up on the side of the mountain. I was hoping that the government guys had missed at least one of them, but nope.

These rusty cans are outside of the Nannie Baird.

I may have been the only person in the Jarilla mountains today. It was beautiful. Cactus in bloom everywhere, a nice cool breeze. Really nice.

I did get to go underground today. I had never been inside the Little Joe mine before. It is remarkable. I know two guys who live in Oro Grande, and this morning they gave me their phone numbers just in case I broke down somewhere way back in the bush or had some other disaster.

Up high on the Jarilla mountains I did have cellular service. The roads are 100 years old and FOR SURE you do need a high clearance vehicle. In a few places four wheel drive sure increases one’s level of comfort and may actually be a necessity.

I brought my battery powered ultraviolet light with me.

About 75 yards into the lower shaft of the Little Joe mine I found a couple of stones that glow beautifully when illumintated with short wave UV light.