Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Desert Queen Mine--Joshua Tree National Park

A few weekends ago, William and I were out hiking in Joshua Tree National Park, enjoying the amazing season of wildflowers. We drove through Queen Valley and parked at the trail head that led to the the old Desert Queen Mine, a twenty minute walk down a steep hillside.

The gold mine was founded in 1894 by Frank L. James. It has a history of murder and payoffs as the profitable goldmine changed hands over the years until it fell into the hands of longtime desert resident and homesteader Bill Keys. Keys lived with his family at the nearby Desert Queen Ranch for nearly 50 years.

William and I followed the trail down into a gorge. We looked up at the massive hillside where the many mine shafts opened like mouths to the sun. I imagined what it would have been like to live here a hundred years ago when mining in the area that is now Joshua Tree National Park was at its peak.

Guided tours of the Desert Queen Ranch are offered to the public. For more information, click here.

Coming up I'll be posting a two-part interview with Curt Sauer, superintendent of Joshua Tree National Park. Curt has an interesting behind-the-scenes perspective. It was great hearing what he had to say.

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