February 11, 2014
Driving west (about 8 miles past Yuma) on Interstate 8, you can see off to the right a small group of mountains that appear dark brown. Ronnie and Carol had a plan...and that was our destination.
These mountains are known as the Cargo Muchacho Mountains. Mexican miners worked the area for decades before Americans entered the district in the mid 1800s. Cargo Muchacho, or Loaded Boys, received its name when two young Mexican boys entered camp with their shirts loaded with gold.
Years later, the discovery of gold in the Cargo Muchacho Mining District is credited to a mule that strayed while members of a California bound wagon train were camped near the mountains in 1862. When the mule was found, a sharp-eyed man picked up a nugget on the spot.
Originally named Gold Rock Camp, then Hedges, and finally Tumco...the area is one of the oldest gold mining areas in California. Its history spans 300 years with several periods of boom and bust.
The completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad from Yuma to Los Angeles in 1877 allowed access to the gold which led to a gold rush in the area.
Individual mining claims soon gave way to mining companies that purchased claims and developed the mines on a large scale.
During the boom of the 1890s, mines produced $1,000 a day in gold. Ultimately over 200,000 ounces were taken from the mines in the area.
Historical accounts describe Tumco as a typical raucous mining town that fell into financial ruin and by 1907 it was a ghost town.
No longer did they tunnel down 1,000 feet for it, they just removed chunks of the mountain, crushed the ore, and recovered the gold.
Today, American Girl Gold Mine is for sale. It can be bought at $400 an acre.
...we didn't head back to "camp" with shirts loaded with the precious ore.
Thanks Ronnie and Carol...a special day with special friends!
Until next time...