Posts Tagged ‘Eagle Mountain Iron Mine’

Happy birthday to my dad. He has been gone for many years and would be 105 if he were alive, but this is still the anniversary of his birth, so my thoughts are for him as soon as I realize the date.

The warm glow from hiking that railroad bed yesterday and loving the desert views has both of us still in its grip. We’re not sure why…there was nothing spectacular about it, just a great day we both really enjoyed. I’ve even tried analyzing it and can’t come up with anything in particular.

Today we’re just puttering again. I decided to make a batch of oatmeal cookies and then remembered how difficult it is to cream sugar and butter together without a mixer. In my poor days I did it all the time but that was then and I’m spoiled now. So I worked a long time at getting the sugar all incorporated into the butter. The rest of it went together pretty fast. It is one of our favorite recipes and I add all sorts of stuff to the cookies. Al had mentioned that his favorites are oatmeal cookies with raisins so I separated out a goodly chunk of dough for him and put in raisins. Since I was a child, I’ve always considered raisins an abomination in cookies. Why ruin my favorite sweets with something nutritious?? But Al has been more than generous with his wifi, his gas, his water jugs, and his driving skills and the least I can do is pay him back with his favorite cookies.

After lunch we decided we really should do something with the rest of our day, so we drove to the Patton Museum at Chiriaco Summit on I-10, a good hour’s drive away. They have added quite a bit since the last time we were there but I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I was hoping for a map showing where he operated in the desert. There are plenty of maps showing his dozen or so camps but nothing indicating other operations he had going on during the year and a few months that the camps existed. While I was waiting for Larry to finish looking at all the guy stuff that doesn’t interest me, I asked the young man at the counter if there were any books on his other operations. The look in his eye said it all. With a grin he pulled out two well-worn volumes and suggested I copy down the ISBN and publisher’s info to see if I could obtain copies for myself. Together we tried to find anything specific on the fortifications we had found but they were not in the book. From my description, though, and from pictures of similar areas, there is no doubt that the “rock outcroppings” we found near the campground are indeed the work of the Desert Training Camp.

We got out of the museum in time to explore Eagle Mountain Iron Mine. The road going up there had a “not a through road” sign but how could that be? My beloved map shows it going to a small town and connecting with a county road which comes back down into Desert Center. The “mining railroad” is still there, tracks and all, so we should be good. We drove miles to the north on a paved road in good repair. Of course it should be in good repair. It wasn’t THAT long ago that Kaiser had its extensive iron mining operation up that road. All of us who lived in Southern California in the 60s know about the Kaiser Steel Mill between Route 66 (Foothill Blvd) and I-10. Kaiser was a major player in the economy of SoCal. But no more. The sign was right. It does not go through. It ends at a locked gate near a pumping station for the Colorado River Aqueduct (which fills the swimming pools of SoCal and deprives the farmers of Mexico of their fair share of water from the river.)

So we crossed the track where others have done so before us and wandered around till we finally reached a powerline road. The powerline road eventually crosses the paved county road we were looking for and goes to Desert Center, which isn’t there either. This is scary…ghost towns in my lifetime.

I am writing this on the morning of the 6th at the laundromat in Blythe. We gave the cookies to Al and Linda, listened to their adventures yesterday, and said our goodbyes. We dumped a few hundred pounds of gray water and black water at the dump station, then drove to town and Larry dropped me here. He went to fill up with fresh water and as soon as we are finished, we will leave California for Phoenix. We have friends and family to see there and new adventures await.



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