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The deserts of the American southwest have long been the discussion of lost mines and buried treasures. For hundreds of years, man has scoured the desert floor searching for any signs of the countless tales of lost riches. Some have claimed to have found the elusive treasures but only to be lost again, while others grew old or died trying. None the less, the legends live on as they are passed down from generation to generation. Maybe you will be the lucky one...
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Glory Hole Days In Randsburg
By James E. Mulkey
From page 25 of the February 1998 issue of Lost Treasure magazine.
Copyright ©1998 Lost Treasure, Inc.
If you're like most folks, at one time
or another, you've probably traveled along U.S. Highway 395 through
the Mohave Desert. Chances are, you drove through Red Mountain and
Johannesburg without giving much thought to stopping. That's too bad
because Randsburg, which is located a couple of miles southwest of
Joburg is one of the better ghost towns in the West. The area is also
known for its rich placer deposits - a real bonanza for detectorists!
Randsburg sports a number of false-front
buildings, including: an old, tin-roofed, white-washed church; an
old-time barber shop, complete with a hand-painted barber pole, and
a service station with a glass-topped gas pump that must be hand-cranked
during use. Although a certain charm remains, most of the town's original
buildings were destroyed by repeated fires. The next time you're passing
through Joburg, stop and explore nearby Randsburg. You'll be glad
Today, you can still find gold in the
region around Randsburg; specifically, in Last Chance Canyon, Goler
Gulch and Benson Gulches and at Summit Diggings.
Goler Gulch, which is located on the north
side of Garlock Road just east of the ghost town of Garlock, is a
rather extensive area that has seen some rather rich placer strikes
in the past. Benson Gulch is located on the south side of Garlock
Road right across the street from Goler Gulch. The Lost Goler Mine
is said to be located somewhere in the region.
The placer deposits found along Goler and
Benson Gulches, reached by driving four miles north from Joburg on
Highway 395 and taking Garlock Road west, were discovered in 1893,
in Goler Wash, which is located in the El Paso Mountains. The deposits
are due to secondary enrichment from the erosion of an ancient river
channel that runs alternately along the top and below the ground.
Rich "glory holes" and vein gold deposits have also been
found in Goler and Benson Gulches, the latter having exhibited the
richest deposits. You should use your metal detector to scan tailing
piles, bedrock as exposed in washes and to search for nugget patches
on hillsides and hilltops.
Last Chance Canyon is located a few miles
west of Goler Gulch. Drive west past Garlock, turn north (right) on
Mesquite Canyon Road (which is a dirt road located immediately west
of Garlock) and take this road to Last Chance Canyon Road. A four-wheel
drive vehicle is strongly recommended if you intend to explore Last
You should prospect all side canyons, including
Boulder and Bonanza Gulches. Last Chance Canyon Road winds around
through the hills and washes of the El Paso Mountains and eventually
turns south toward Redrock-Randsburg Road. Camping is permitted throughout
the region. Again, use your detector to scan old workings along ancient
riverbeds, on hillsides and hilltops and at dry washer tailing and
Quite possibly, of all the placer deposits
in the Randsburg-Joburg region, Summit Diggings is the most popular.
It's been visited by such well-known nugget-shooters as Chet Long
and Pieter Heydelaar. A word of caution: Summit Diggings is riddled
with what's known as "coyote holes," which are shallow tunnels
and crawl-holes made by men searching for gold in years past. It was
here that Chet Long witnessed a cave-in killing one of two brothers
who had crawled back into a coyote hole with a detector to hunt for
nuggets that may have been overlooked by old-timers.
Summit Diggings, also referred to as Poorman's
Diggings in years past because of the fine gold found here, has produced
more than its share of nuggets, too. You need not own a four-wheel
drive vehicle to reach Summit Diggings as a motor home will have no
trouble reaching the diggings, which are located adjacent to Highway
395 north of Joburg on the east side of the highway. It's a rather
extensive area best reached by taking the first dirt road to the right
after you cross the railroad on Highway 395 (right across from Garlock
Road). Follow this road a short distance to the first of 100s of diggings
which are found along both sides of the road.
The Gold Prospector's Association of America
has a number of claims in the region, including to in Last Chance
Canyon, two along Iron Canyon near Sand Gulch, and one along Fiddler
Gulch. For a small annual fee, you can join this organization and
are allowed to dig on their claims at no additional charge (P.O. Box
891509, Temecula, CA 92589).
Although gold was first discovered at Goler
Gulch in 1893, the really Big Strike came at Randsburg in 1895, on
Rand Mountain. The mine was named the Yellow Aster Mine and produced
some of the richest gold ore ever found in the West until it closed
in 1918. Fortunately, when the Yellow Aster Mine closed, tungsten
was discovered at nearby Atolia and, when the tungsten ran out, silver
was discovered at Red Mountain, the site of the world famous Kelly
Randsburg may have been a boom town, but
it was also a company town. The wealth of the Yellow Aster Mine was
too great to allow the kind of lawlessness that had flourished in
either Ballarat of Bodie. Randsburg was kept real peaceful by its
law enforcement officers. No tin-horns, rowdies, nor law breakers
The discovery of Randsburg's Yellow Aster
Mine was typical for a western mining town: three poor, tired and
dirty men had been dry washing at Summit Diggings without much luck
when they decided to call it quits. Yet, for one reason or another,
they decided to make one last try at finding their pot of gold.The
area they picked for their final attempt was in the unnamed mountains
south of Summit Diggings, now known as the Rand Mountains. One of
the trio had seen a little "color" the year before at a
spot on Rand Mountain. The threesome headed south and spent the night
at what is now Randsburg.
At dawn, on April 25, 1895, the men were
perched high on the slope of what was soon to be known around the
world as "Rand Mountain," when they hit a rich pocket of
paydirt, a Glory Hole. The men had found a true bonanza! As they say,
the rest was history! But that's not the end of the story. It was
a woman who saved the day.
The history of mining in the West is filled
with examples of poor miners finding a rich body of ore only to lose
it to others. Not so with the discoverers of the Yellow Aster Mine.
When one of the trio's wives, Dr. Rose Burcham, who was a general
practitioner, learned of her husband's discovery, she closed her medical
practice and moved to Randsburg. She organized the entire mining operation,
urged the men not to sell out to eastern venture capitalists and became
the operation's chief cook, bookkeeper and secretary while the three
men worked the mine. Rose was used to having her way in a man's world
and convinced the three partners to "hang-on" to their mine.
A good thing, too, as the Yellow Aster was to produce more than $12,000,000
for its discoverers!
-- James E. Mulkey