It was March 31st, 2001 at 9:00 AM in the morning
and 33 of the Mining Collect members were assembled at the Jenny Rose Cafe
just outside of Barstow California. During breakfast we all had a good get
together and swapped a few stories. Ted Bobrink filled us in on the
schedule for the day. After checking out a box of goodies that Dave
Thorpe brought in we headed out for the campgrounds at the Calico Ghost
John Ransom had some how talked the folks at the
campground into donating 9 huge campsites for our use. We set up our tents
made some fire rings and unpacked our equipment for our trip to the Red
Ted Bobrink gave us a little history of the area
going back to the 1880's and pointed out some of the main mines on King
Mountain. If you are ever driving on I15 on the Vegas to LA highway
you will see a big red mountain with CALICO written on the side. This is
King Mountain and where we were to explore. Our plans called for a
Saturday trip to the Red Cloud Mine and a Sunday trip to the Silver King
We drove up the Wall Street canyon and then hiked
about 1/4 mile to the lower entrance to the Red Cloud. We were pretty much
at the base of the mountain. You could see ore shoots and mine entrances
all over the mountain. We stopped and Ted took this group picture.
Kneeling in front left to right is Randy Hobert, Mike Serino, and
Jack Purson. Standing left to right is Darrell Plumb, Ted Bobrink, Andrea
Bobrink, Kelly Smith, Le Anne Thorpe, and Don Powell. In the
back row is Trevor Emray, John Emray, Tate Emray, and Greg Taylor.
After we entered the mine, John Ransom took one
group and Ted took the other. I was in Ted's group. He explained the
methods used in the mines for keeping track of where you were and how to
get out. After about 100 feet into the mine there is no sense of
direction. Every tunnel looks the same and you could get lost in about 10
seconds. Luckily every junction was marked with an arrow that always
pointed towards the entrance. That might be up, down, right or left but
always pointed to your exit direction. Sometimes they would use a
horizontal line with a vertical bar ( -----| instead of an arrow
We saw a lot of flat strap rail for the ore cars,
ore chutes, stopes and shafts. After a while we all met up under a
small stope that was in front of a 20 foot ladder that took us to the next
level where there is a neat vertical wintz. Ted took this picture while we
were waiting to go up the ladder..
We spent a while looking for artifacts among the
crosscuts, shafts holes, nooks and crannies of the mine. We then collected
together before we were to ascend an eighty foot ladder that was on
a 55 degree angle. The good news was that we had a safety line to hold on
to on our way up, the bad news was that the ladder was actually several
ladders wired together with a few broken or missing rungs. We were always
aware that everything we were seeing in this mine was over 100 years old.
It is amazing that the wooden ladders and beams had held up so well. When
we all got to the top we stopped for lunch. Everything I ate tasted like
mine dirt but if you are hungry you just wash it down.
After lunch John Ranson decided to try looking under
a pile of boulders that were stacked right by where we were having lunch.
When he moved one rock he saw a glass bottle between two other rocks
like it had been hidden there. It looked like a plain old bottle top, but
when he pulled it up it was intact with label and cork. The label was
marked "Tincture of Myrrh - Used Chiefly For Diseased Gums, Sore
Throat, Etc. H.J. Jordan, Calico Pharmacy, Calico, California.". Ted
Bobrink told us that the Calico Pharmacy burned down in1884 and was never
rebuilt. That had been there for at least 116 years. What a find. It is
rare for an artifact to have any reference to the town of Calico.
There were several other relics found that day. Jim Malouf found a
really cool 1880s large square liquid can. It was about 10" and
6"wide high and completely hand soldered with its original shinny tin
finish and no dents. Darrell Plumb and Gary Butrick pulled out most of a
Goodwin Candle Box side. David Bobrink found a hand carved wood
powder poke with candle wax on it. John Emray found an original
Calico hand made wire Miners Candlestick holder. It seems that everyone
found something to bring back to the campground and talk about.
We had spent 5 hours in the mine and by now were
tired looking pretty dirty. We headed back to camp and after a
little wait in line at the showers were as good as new. One of the regular
campers refereed to us as the red people because we were all the color of
That night most of us met up at Ted's camp for
dinner. Bob Schroth and Dave Thorpe did a great job with the musical
entertainment, Ted and some of the other regulars told some great stories
although I don't know if they were fabricated or just stretched a
bit. We had a great dinner under the stars and were even treated to a
little celestial pyrotechnics as a huge white fire ball streaked overhead.
We all called it a night and tried to sleep in spite of a couple of
campers that snored like Kodiak bears.
The next morning we got breakfast and headed
for our second mine the Silver Cloud. We entered from the other side of
the mountain, just above the Calico Ghost Town. We spent some time poking
around the first level looking for artifacts and just exploring. Some of
our group were going down a vertical shaft on ropes and the others were
going to stay on the first and second levels. The vertical group
were to drop down a shaft and traverse the mountain and end up coming out
of the mountain on the other side were we had been the day before. I chose
to stay on the Silver King side and try to uncover some artifacts, which I
The burlap bag is a hand sewn ore bag that was probably used by high
graders to bring out high grade ore or ore samples. The bar is a piece of
the flat strap rail. This has nailed on top of a 2 by 4 inch wood rail to
form a track for the ore cars. The t-type of rail that we use today was
not invented in the 1880's. The disadvantage to this type of rail is that
it could not be bent and turns were a problem. In the mine we saw flat
pieces of sheet steel that they placed at corners. They would have to
slide the ore car around each corner. The round stick (powder poker) is a
hand carved stick used to poke the dynamite into the drilled holes.
I also brought out some square nails and barite samples.
After we had all had our fill of exploring we met up
under a huge stope and had lunch. We were all captivated by Ted Bobrink
and his stories of mine exploration. About the time he discovered an
unknown and lost level in the Silver King, or the time he found the oldest
surviving pair of Levi's (1891) and how they found there way to the Levi
Straus museum. It was a perfect end to a memorable weekend.
On our way out we stopped in the Calico Ghost Town
for lunch. It is a nice place to spend an afternoon. The only thing I
found amusing is the references to gold mining in a place that only mined
I wish to thank the two people who really made this
trip possible. Without John Ranson we would not of had access to the
mines. We were allowed to go where the general public cannot. He made this
available to us provided a campsite and even gave us the guided tour. Ted
Bobrink was also the one person who brought all of the people together and
made it so interesting. I thank you all and look forward to the 4th
annual Calico Mining Collect Underground Adventure.
**mine pictures courtisy of Ted Bobrink
July 2001 Update
Four of the shops that
you see here have been burned to the ground by a fire. Luckly none of the
really old buildings were destroyed, but a lot of work will be necessary
to restore the town.