"Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind... We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith." -- Margaret D. Nadauld

Monday, October 4, 2010

Nevada/Utah/October/Gold Mines

So what do you do when it's the first of October and the temperatures are still in the upper 80's, it's Conference Weekend and school is out for Spud Harvest?

That's a no-brainer! You get in the car and drive 5+ hours to no man's land in Western Utah near the Nevada border... where you can't even find a grazing cow let alone one bar for cell service ... and look for your great-great grandfather's old gold mine on top of a non-descript mountain in a sea of non-descript mountains. I mean... really!!!... what sane, fun loving person wouldn't come up with an idea like that?

My Uncle K2 (who is a twin to Uncle K1) is FANATICAL about family history. I mean, seriously, he has the gift and the drive to research and find out all sorts of family stories -- good and bad. We rely on him for everything. Don't know what line this great-granmother came from? Call Uncle K2! What were the particulars of this ancestor's journey across the ocean or across the plains? Call Uncle K2!! What year did so-and-so die? Uncle K2 knows the answer!! And, as an added bonus, he knows it all in his HEAD!!! He doesn't need the charts sitting out on a table in front of him to trace the lines... this ancestor comes from here and that ancestor comes from there. I (and most everyone else I know) have to write it down and trace the lines with my finger to understand.

Like I said, Uncle K2 has a gift!!!

About 5 years ago, he made this trek alone to find my great-grandfather's mine. It was no easy feat, but he couldn't be swayed out of his decision to see where this amazing man lived and made his fortune... for my great-grandfather did become very wealthy mining the mountain. (Sadly, he got very sick from the chemicals he used to clean the gold and subsequently used his entire fortune trying to find a cure. He died poor.)

Uncle found the mine and we have been intrigued with it since. This weekend seemed like the perfect time to meet in Wendover and find it ourselves. Along for the ride was his twin, Uncle K1 and his daughter her husband and baby boy. My Gorgeous Aunt. A second or third cousin I don't know named Martha and Max, Inigo and I.

Have you ever heard of Ibapah, Utah? Neither had we. But that's where we were headed for. Some history buffs have probably heard of the Lincoln Highway, so that might give you a clue as to where we were. (A side note for my family members: I guess Grandpa Pat travelled across the Lincoln Highway when he ran away from home as a youth and travelled to Sacramento.)

We first stopped at an old cemetery, because when you're on a family history tour, that's what you do, right? It was immediately awkward... believe it or not, in the middle of this old, desert cemetery where the average person was born in 1850, there was a funeral!!! (And yes, I was intrusive enough to take a picture!)

It was so dry and so hot. It hasn't rained down there in ages. Every step we took sent clouds of fine dust flying mixing with the sweat running down our backs. We had to watch every step we took to avoid stepping on over-dry foliage or scratching our legs on cactus. Our early morning shower was wasted!!

After leaving the cemetery, down a dirt road we went... we were in the last car. We have a saying, "Unless you're the lead elephant, the view never changes." All we could see for miles and miles was clouds of dust kicked up by the two cars in front of us. We had to put about 1/2 mile or more between us so we wouldn't choke to death.

When Uncle stopped the car and pointed to the hillside, I knew my day was going to get very difficult. I found the 4wd button, pushed it and got ready for my first off-roading experience. See, even though I write with great bravado about all the fun adventures we go on, ultimately I'm the biggest wimp there is. I'm terrified to do so many things... afraid of death and dying... sure that every time we go somewhere it's going to be my last adventure. I knew -- for sure -- that I was going to roll the Tahoe (yes, I was driving) and that even though there are air bags and seat belts we were going to be smashed to death.

(The pictures I'm posting aren't of our car. As far as I know, no one took a picture of me being brave.)

Proudly, I made it (with very little profanity) and stopped near the place where the old cabin and the old mill were located. The mine was further up, but there was NO WAY I was going to drive further up that mountain.

I put the car in park and followed my boys up to the mine. (Of course, Inigo ran the whole way.)

This certainly isn't what you'd expect an old gold mine to look like, is it? It collapsed many years ago so I don't know what it looked like when it was active and working.

We had a gorgeous view from where we were!!

I can't imagine how hard it was for my great-grandfather to live there. His wife and children stayed behind in Nephi while he was living in this desolate desert area. We didn't see a water source anywhere... no rivers, streams or canals. How did he get water up there? The terrain is difficult. Yes, we made it in our 4wd vehicles, but the grade was steep, dry and rocky. I couldn't imagine driving a team of horses and a wagon up that hill. We walked from our car to the mine and about died in the autumn heat. How hot was it in JULY when he was dredging valuable minerals down that hill?

(Our car is the furthest away. You can see the old cabin in the middle with family members climbing up the ravine. They turned back when a rattle snack challenged their trek!)

It was hard living for sure!! And again I'm reminded how grateful I am to be alive today. I'm too big of a wimp to have survived as a pioneer.

We spent a lot of time prowling around the hillside, trying to imagine life here. Trying to make it real. But eventually we had to come down. (Down is always easier!) We briefly stopped at an old Pony Express Station and headed back to Wendover.

Red was gracious enough to let us hang out at her house in Happy Valley for the rest of the weekend. We were actually able to watch Sunday's Conference and enjoyed spending time with her.

A horrible drive home up the I-15 corridor with all the Conference attendees reminded us why we DON'T travel south the first weekend of October and April and we made a vow never to do it again. Unless it's to visit cool family history places! Then it would be worth it!!


gelly said...

Look at you tackling one fear after another! First horses, then off-roading, the mind reels at what might be next. Very cool trip; definitely worth the effort I'd bet.

Yvonne said...

I say next time you take Diamond (I think that was your horse's name) and try it again ; )

What a wonderful trip. Like you, I would wonder how he did it.

Wees said...

Thanks for posting this, especially for those of us who would have liked to have gone but couldn't. And thanks to Uncle K2 for the incredible amount of work he has done and the vast amount of information he has gathered!

thorkgal said...

You'd never tell us if you found some gold in them there hills would ya? Golden post if I ever read one.

Ashley and Ethan said...

Ok, this is really COOL, but also extremely funny! You make me laugh so hard. How fun for you to go on a treasure hunt type thing :) I've always wanted to go search for lost treasure... but only if I KNOW that it's real and that I have a good chance at finding something. You rock carrie.
Love, Andy