View Full Version : Visit to Sunset Mine, Arizona

08-20-2006, 04:05 PM
We woke up early this morning to another beautiful, coolish morning in sunny Arizona. So once again, packed sandwiches, cold drinks and headed out. This time we decided to go back to a site we'd already visited before, but this time we remembered to take the camera with fully charged batteries.
The Sunset mine, located just inside the Tonto National Forest, bordering the Sierra Ancha Wilderness was a Fluorite mine. We're not exactly sure of the dates of operation, but judging by the equipment left on site, we'd speculate it was working as late as pre-WW1 and as early as the late 1800s. The mine itself consists of a vertical shaft, with a much deteriorated head frame in place and a main shaft going straight down at least 30 feet, at which point a tunnel takes off to parts unknown. We found two collapsed adits, probably connecting to the vertical shaft somewhere deep underground. Although partially collapsed, one could have been entered, but a beehive could be heard just inside the tiny opening with active bees going in and out. The other entrance looks like either the years or someone had purposely collapsed the timbers supporting the opening and now rocks and dirt are blocking the way. There's also the remains of an ore loading bin which once stretched out over a road built into the canyon's edge. We haven't located any living quarters nearby, but from what we've heard, many times miners in this area lived in tent houses, consisting of a canvas roof with some wooden siding, if that was the case, they would have deteriorated long ago. The entire area is littered by the telltale black coated tailings of a Fluorite mine.
It's a neat site, easy to get to with four wheel drive or at least a high clearance vehicle. It's got fabulous scenery with the beautiful Sierra Ancha Wilderness mountains surrounding it and an abundance of great Saguaros and Prickly Pears. There's even a couple of friendly mules and a horse running the open range around the mine who like to come over and nibble on your vehicle.
No Rattlers today, only a very long, very fast, silver and green unknown variety snake we passed along the road.
Life is good...the monsoons have brought cooler mornings, it's great to be back to exploring again...hope the weather holds!

Head Frame

Vertical Shaft

Collapsed Adit

This tiny opening would have been accessible, except for the bees.

Remains of the ore bin

08-20-2006, 04:16 PM
Once again laura, great pics! As far as I'm concerned, the bees are a HUGE deterrant for mines/caves for me. They usually seem to be around a water source or dampness, but if I see 'em, then I'm gone. Bee stings and morphine are the only things I'm allergic to. Ouch!


08-20-2006, 04:19 PM
Here are the rest of the Sunset Mine Pictures

Big Ore Bucket

No clue what this could be..an Early American Rocket Ship?

Ore Bin extending over the canyon

Fluorite Tailings and Prickly Pears

Thanks Goat! Yep, bees n' snakes will keep me from mine crawlin' for sure!

Watt Noise
08-20-2006, 04:46 PM
Very nice pics... The "rocket ship" looked familiar... This one is at a mine near Rosemont Junction... Don't know either but thought it was a ventilation shaft below it - it was attached to the ground...


08-20-2006, 04:58 PM
Yes, that does look like the same kind of thing. The one at Sunset isn't attached but it could easily have been moved around. It makes sense that it could be a top to a ventilation shaft. It's made from a 55 gallon drum with a metal hood attached. Thanks for the picture!

08-20-2006, 06:36 PM
Post edited for content