Traci and I were hoping to go for a 4-wheeler ride on Saturday, but she wasn’t sure that she was up for an all-day ride yet after her gallbladder surgery, so it ended up just being Bradley and me. The plan was to visit some old copper mines in the Summerville Wash area that I’d missed on a previous trip, then ride north to Stove Gulch to see another mine and an old cabin. The Summerville mines are marked on the USGS 7.5′ topo map and were easy to find, though I didn’t become interested in going there until I saw some photos of the place here. The stuff in Stove Gulch was more difficult to come by. All I had to go on was the photos on this page, but knowing that they were in the general area of Stove Gulch/Sulphur Canyon, I was able to match a couple of the photos with Google Earth satellite imagery.
We hit the road pretty early, around 8:30 in the morning, and were in the Swell and riding by 10:00. We reached the first set of mines in the Summerville area and there wasn’t a lot to see there. There were a few small adits, most of which you could see the end of, and some prospect pits. We spent some time walking around the area and checking things out, and now I wish I’d have spent less time there. We eventually moved on to the next set of mines which were less than a mile to the north, but it was a four mile ride along the ATV trail. There was one rough spot in the trail where I had Bradley get off the ATV while I dropped down a ledge and into a wash, and I took a hard hit to my skidplate along the way. Good thing I wasn’t planning on going back along that route. We got to the second mining area and it was obvious that there’d been more activity here than at the last place. The spur trail that I took down to the mines ended at a large tailings pile, and at the top of the pile was a vertical shaft that I couldn’t see the bottom of because it curved slightly as it went down. I threw a small rock into the shaft and heard it bounce for a long time but couldn’t really tell from the sound whether it had hit bottom or just faded away. The search was on for a bigger rock (curiously there were none right near the opening ;), and upon throwing one down, we heard it go on for more than ten seconds before hitting the bottom.
After gathering up some bits of copper ore from the tailings, then horsing around some more and not finding anything more interesting that the one vertical mine shaft, we ate a quick lunch a short distance away at an old stone cabin that probably housed a miner or two. Then we got back on the ATV and regained the main road where we made good time north toward Stove Gulch. With the increased speed it became necessary to once again don our jackets that we’d shed while hiking around the first mine site. Once I turned off the main road again toward Stove Gulch, the road got badly rutted. After crossing through a barbed wire gate, I took a right turn and entered the bottom of a wash that led to Stove Gulch, which itself has no road but instead the trail just follows the wash bottom. It was rough and rocky, and at one point there was a steep uphill ledge cut by water into the gravel and rocks that I couldn’t get up, so I shifted into 4WD and went around via a very rocky route out of and back into the wash that once again marred the skidplate. I parked just out of the bottom of the wash and we scrambled up to where I had guessed the mine shaft would be based on the photos mentioned above. The shaft wasn’t exactly where I thought it would be, but it was easy enough to find (less than 200 feet away) because of some tailings dumped down the hillside. The mine shaft was pretty cool, with a rickety old wire and wood ladder leading down and out of sight–not something I would dare descend. This one wasn’t as deep as the Summerville mine, but it was a bit more interesting.
I tried going farther north along the bottom of Stove Gulch to see the old cabin near the Price River, but the bottom of the wash was pretty rough and I don’t think I had time to go that slowly there and back. I also didn’t want to cross such rough terrain alone without somebody else to help me get out of trouble if I were to find it. We cruised back to the truck, stopping only once to check out a cave listed on the topo map that turned out to be not much of a cave at all. We got back to the truck as the sun was nearly touching the horizon. Instead of returning home along US-6, I took the Green River Cutoff Road since it had been very recently graded. It might have been faster getting home that way were it not for the sun being so low in the sky–I was blinded for a good part of the drive along the southern end of Cedar Mountain. Before I reached the Buckhorn Wash turnoff the sun had set and I was able to make good time the rest of the way home.
Unfortunately I became pretty sick shortly after getting home. I must have gotten whatever stomach bug the kids had last week. They each were sick for two days with intermittent nausea and vomiting but no other symptoms. My nausea only lasted Saturday evening, but I was just kind of down all day Sunday. We went out with Chris (who spent the night at our place) and found a couple of geocaches near Helper, but that wore me out and I ended up taking a nap for several hours that afternoon/evening. It feels as though I only got half a weekend, which I hope to make up for with an upcoming three-day weekend.
Summerville Mining District Photos
GPS Tracklog and Waypoints (Google Earth .KMZ Format)
GPS Tracklog and Waypoints (Google Maps)