Calico 3rd Anual Trip



    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 town.

    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 Cloud Mine. 

    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 Mine.

    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 the mountain.

    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 did.

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 silver.

    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.