Hiking Around the Salt Spring Hills and China Ranchphotos

Today the Dzrtgrls will join forces with Dezdan to explore two sites that are so close to major roads that they are often bypassed in favor of more remote spots. However, both of these locations are rich in history and boast historic stone structures that are most certainly worth the short hikes needed to see them. Our first stop will be the Salt Spring Hills which are just south of Dumont Dunes along Highway 127. This is just at the southern fringe of Death Valley and very near where the Harry Wade Escape Route joins Highway 127. Our goal here will be to find the stone structure from an 1860's placer mine camp and then to locate the site of the hard rock mines from the Salt Creek Mining District. This area dates from 1849 when Jefferson Hunt led seven Mormon wagons along the Old Spanish Trail and, while preparing to camp at Salt Spring, found pea sized gold nuggets in the wash and in quartz ledges along the canyon. The resulting mines were worked off and on until 1920. They produced a large amount of gold from small rich pockets, but the isolated nature of the site, the poor quality of the water, a lack of readily available wood, and marauding Chemehuevi Indians all combined to spell doom for all who tried to establish large scale mines here. What remains, however, is worth viewing. There are numerous adits and shafts, arrastra ruins, can dumps, rusting boilers, mill ruins, and the stately adobe and stone structure at the Amargosa Mine which could well lay claim to being the oldest standing structure in Death Valley.

The thought of an icy cold date shake at China Ranch, located southeast of Tecopa, brought us to the start of our second hike. The name China Ranch is a shortened version of Chinaman's Ranch, so named in the later 1800's for a Chinese man who came to the canyon after working many years in the Death Valley Borax Mines. He developed the water in the area and planted fruit and vegetable gardens to supply the local mines and railroad. After we downed the aforementioned shake, we set off along an easy and scenic trail which leads down to the site of Acme on the old Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad. Our goal this time is to visit the stone block saloon and assay office built near Acme in 1903. There are also reputed to be Indian sleeping circles in the area and of course we're hoping for some scenic views of the site of Acme siding and the old roadbed of the historic T&T Railroad.

It's hot today, so whip up a date shake and join us by clicking on the photo link below.


Click here for photos.