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ModernJeeping into America’s Mining History ModernJeeping into America’s Mining History
ROADS, TRAILS, CABINS, MINES AND ADVENTURE AWAIT YOUR JEEP Mining in America is best known for the California Gold Rush (1848-1855) where the “Forty-Niners”... ModernJeeping into America’s Mining History


Mining in America is best known for the California Gold Rush (1848-1855) where the “Forty-Niners” as they became to be known left roads and trails in search of gold for ModernJeepers to follow today. Some say overlanding even started then, with Conestoga wagons, covered wagons and emigrants pulling oxen wagons.

Covered wagon of the pioneer days


There were many other “gold rushes” like the Nome and Klondike Gold Rush of Alaska (1899-1909), the Black Hills Gold Rush, South Dakota (1874-1878) and others that left trails, roads, mining cabins and camps for us to explore today.  Land use organizations today still fight to keep these old historic routes open for us.  Enjoying them should be on your bucket list.

Minerals besides gold that were heavily mined included (but not limited to) Bauxite, Borax, Copper, Coal, Silver, Iron, Molybdenum, Phosphate, Zinc and in Moab, UT particularly, Uranium. One Death Valley story tells of a forty-niner era miner who found a form of borax lying on the ground.  He sold the claim on which he was barely surviving for what now would be a millionaire’s fortune.  Oh, the stories, trails and roads these mines left behind.

As with most all historical structures, buildings decay and mines fill in with erosion. It doesn’t take long for old mining camps to disappear from official maps available to the public. If you get the chance to go exploring for historic mining camps, you should do it now.

Mines might be labeled on a good topo map


Some tips to help you find old mines and cabins:
1. Ask the locals where you want to explore in coffee shops and “hang out” establishments. Treasures have been found based on napkin maps made in a bar.
2. Use your browser and satellite imagery to look for old buildings and mines. Use several key words in your searches such as historic, mines, cabins, lost mines, ghost towns, etc.
3. Go to the library in your interest area and poke around in the journals and historic references. Be sure to ask the librarian for hints on where to look. Journals of old miners are a treasure!
4. Ask at the RV Parks, Chamber of Commerce or Tourism office where cool old buildings and mines might still be standing.

Enjoy this collection of historic mining camps, buildings, cabins and more…

Cabin at Belfort, CA, from the 1880 mining boom.


Gold flakes and pickers gold in pan.


Gold nugget found near source of mine


Mining debris is a treasure to find and figure out


Remains of a stamp and mill operation


Never enter buildings if uncertain as to safety


Some mining cabins might still have inhabitants…use caution


Local hang outs are a good place to do research


Marshall Gold Discovery State Park, Coloma, CA, 5-Stamp Mill


Marshall Gold Discovery State Park, Coloma, CA, Ore Cart


Water canons ravaged hillsides and gullies in short order


It’s easy to admire the craftsmanship of hand tools


Mining arastra that relied on horses or mules to grind ore


Use caution around mine shafts and be safe


Yes, we want some!


“Cousin Jack,” a three sided structures built into the sidehill to house miners in the old days.


1880’s store 10,000 feet up the mountainside


Champion Mill, CO,  boiler set in bricks at about 11,000 elevation


Champion Mill, several stories tall, with “arrested decay” going on with some structural support help.

See history while it still stands

When you get the chance, get out the maps, grab a buddy, and go find some mining history.  It’s an adventure you won’t forget!

Del Albright Ambassador

Internationally published author; WorldWide ModernJeeper Abassador and 2014 Inductee of the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. Del has been involved in the Jeeping Lifestyle for longer then most of us can count. His educational and mentorship programs have helped developed warfighters in the ongoing battle to keep Public Lands Open to the Public.

  • Harry Palmer

    November 25, 2018 #1 Author

    The high country in Colorado has a lot of old mining claims. I Jeep around southern New Mexico and have gone into or near a lot of older mining claims plus a few which are still being worked today. So much fun to find the claims and look at the old equipment and buildings. Many of the mines are very dangerous and caution is the name of the game. Some shafts will collapse with just a little movement, so being careful is critical to surviving. I’ve seen a few with deep shafts which will kill you if you fall; they also have a lot of rattlesnakes. Good article!


  • Rockinbob

    November 26, 2018 #2 Author

    Merry Christmas Del n Stace
    your posts Rock


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