Wulfenite at The Total Wreck Mine
We already knew the approximate location of the mine, so we headed out in hopes of meeting up with our friends. The mine is located in the Empirita Mountains and can be accessed from Hwy 83 North of Sonoita by turning East on a dirt road. Further instructions are imbedded somewhere in my memory banks, possibly this nodule is just hollow at the present time. In any event the mine location can be pin-pointed via a topographical map of Southeast Arizona.
Once you turn off Hwy 83 the going gets very rough and narrow in some places, as do most of these mine roads. Just go slow and watch for someone who may be headed out. One of you will most likely have to back up to a wide spot to accommodate the other. A two wheel drive vehicle can manage this road, just use care and good sense.
Just prior to arriving at the mine we met 2 fellow Rockhounds on their way out, I believe it was shortly after noon. They showed us some of what they collected, it was all nice and we were happy that this trip would bear some positive results. As you all know, not all trips are that way, except for the beauty of being in the Southwest and enjoying all it has to offer.
One of the things that our friends told us was of 4 rattlesnakes that someone had killed the previous day. Yes, they are out there and always be alert to that fact. We saw the snakes as pictured in this article. They had been killed by someone who hunts them for the skins. They averaged from about 3 feet long to almost 4 feet.
Click to enlarge
The photo above shows that there are elements in the Southwest Desert that can put you in harms way. Always be aware of the dangers and be alert and watchful.
The first photo below shows two mine shafts. The one at the top of the picture is the one I was about to descend into. Prior to my journey I decided to look at some surface specimens. Not much there so down the shaft I go.
The photos above don't really capture the angle and depth as some were taken using zoom. You can tell that there is a lot of loose material on the surface. I had to use the side wall to support myself.
In the two photos above you can see the planks that had been placed there to access the vein of Wulfenite located level with my left shoulder. If you look under the planks you can see upright support beams below them. This mine shaft was deep and treacherous looking. Always use extreme caution around all mine shafts. I found some great specimens in that vein but it was difficult to get them out without damage to the cystals because they are very delicate. As can be seen in the photos below and more pictures in our Mineral Collection Page
There is just something about going out and finding your own specimens in the mine they came from. Of course there are some minerals that either are very scarce or the areas have been closed off to the public. In those cases you might have to buy or trade to get pieces to add to your collection.
I want to wish you all the best in your rockhounding endeavors and remember......
Be Safe, Fill your holes, Close all gates behind you, and respect the property of others. This will help protect the open access we have come to enjoy in the Great Southwest.
I update frequently with new articles. Information contained in these is from reliable sources and personal experiences with a little humor thrown into the mix from time to time. So come back and visit often!
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