I've always wanted to explore the Total Wreck Mine. Which is fairly close to my Arizona home. The opportunity came when a mindat acquaintance, Chris Rayburn, expressed a similar desire. He had the vehicle and good underground experience, so we decided to have a look. The Total wreck mine is well out in the country east of highway 83 and south of I-10 along a very rough, difficult road. You need a very good clearance vehicle and know how to drive in such conditions. Here are some pictures and details of our adventure.
The road to the Total Wreck Mine passes through parts of the Empire Mountains, well-weathered ancient mountains. They provide for some nice scenery! This first part of the road is fairly good.
There are a couple of branches to take and the road deteriorates as we go further inland from Hwy 83.
At the beginning of the road there are lots of homes and cabins but further in...nothing! Except maybe wandering cattle.
Here is part of the mine site showing some dumps on the hillside, amongst a myriad of Yucca plant flower stems.
Looking out over the land, it is astonishing to see the numbers of old yucca flowers from last spring, the spring of 2019. Conditions much have been perfect for yucca plants to sprout flowers because an unprecedented number of them did, all at the same time!
We decided to see what collecting oportunities there were in the old "open pit" which I suspect is more of a glory hole or collapsed underground stope. Here is Chris collecting some small wulfenite crystals from a boulder in the pit.
While we were working, we kept an eye on a bee hive that has been built into a hole just above our heads. The last time that Chris was at the mine, the bee hive was active and became more so as the daytime temperature rose. This would be worrisome, since most bees in this region have been "Africanized". As it turns out, it nw appears that the bees have abandoned the hive. Didn't see one bee!
I worked above and behind Chris trying to better expose a showing of wulfenite. I kept prying away at the rock and all of a sudden noticed that a bat had crawled WAY into a crack in the rock and was hibernating. His little chest moved as he breathed, fast asleep. I decided to stop collecting there and left him alone. Hope he was OK!
This photo shows the adit up the hill, above the dumps that I showed you earlier. The adit passes right through the hill and out the other side. Although it was early in the year for snakes, we carefully checked for rattlesnakes, which seem to like to stay in the first 20 feet or so of an adit entrance.
The orebody is very soft, highly friable and oxidized. Here, Chris checks out a goethite/hematite rich area for pockets.
We kept exploring drifts and stopes off of the main adit in our search for crystal lined pockets. I have never seen SO MUCH pack rat excrement! We didn't see one rat, though.
The contact between altered, replaced limestone and what I perceive was the orebody or the mineralization that contained the orebody. was very clear at this spot.
Chris took a picture of me hard at work trying to excavate some unsual white mineral formations from quartz veining.
I caught a nice silhouette of Chris moseying down a tunnel, deep down in the mine. He had a much better underground mine headlamp than I did and I ordered exactly the same kind the day after returning from this trip!
Hopefully, you can make out Chris wrapping our finds to place in a flat in order to try to get them to surface intact. The matrix was VERY fragile for many of the specimens.
It was one of the dirtiest places that I have collected. Good clean dirt, mind you. The iron oxides really clung to everything. It took a long time to get them all out of my hands, hair and face.
This was one of the first things that I encountered underground. The white mineralization, I assume a carbonate, was brilliant in our headlamps and especially on the matrix of sparkling tiny hematite-tinted quartz crystals. 19.0cm wide
A close-up of some of the white carbonate(?) mineralization.
And the white mineral was also fluorescent!
While excavating a vein of drusy quartz crystals, I happened upon this "flower" of chalcedonic quartz on thequartz crystals. Unusual. 8.0cm across
An IT was fluorescent, as well. A light green colour.
I wondered if this mineral was hydrozincite. It was so white and occurred with galena and, presumably sme sphalerite somewhere.
AND it fluoresced fairly brightly, as well.
Nice, micro mimetite crystals with lighter yellow-zoned terminations.
This was fairly typical of the underground wulfenite that we found. Ultra-thin, bladed crystals on a very friable matrix 7.0cm across
A close-up of a nice, glassy wulfenite crystal, 4mm across.
Another, sharp, thin-bladed wulfenite crystal about 4mm across.
For some reason, most of the wulfenite crystals in this vug, seemed to be up on little pedestals. Very photogenic! This one is about 2mm across.
And like this. Wulfenite crystal is 2mm across.
The scenery on the way home from the Total Wreck Mine seemed to be even better than when we drove in! "Home, home on the range!"
Some pretty nice vistas, up there! Looking South.
. Another view to the Southwest.
That is the road to the left of this picture and the Santa Rita Mountains in the background (where I live).
Our last nice scenery as the sun gets lower in the sky. Hope you enjoyed our little expose?