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Thread: Arden Plaster Mines: Las Vegas, NV

  1. #1
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    Default Arden Plaster Mines: Las Vegas, NV

    One of my favorite local haunts, the Arden Plaster Mines were operated from roughly 1907 until 1930, when parent owner US Gypsum shut them down. The primary mines run the length of the Desert Hills for over 1 mile, and another adit to the N-NW of the primary mines is about another mile away, along the grade of an abandoned narrow-gauge railroad bed. You can check out the satellite photos on Google Earth at 36.047997, -115.314302. The mines can be accessed off of Fort Apache/Windmill (please park in the desert areas away from the neighborhoods, if you have to hike in).

    The mines dropped their ores from no less than 3 aerial tramways, to a narrow-gauge railroad that awaited at the bottom of the mountains: the 3-foot gauge Arden Plaster Mine RR, which transported the ores to their mill roughly 5 miles away at Arden (a station on the Union Pacific RR, south of Las Vegas proper). I have to scan some print photos I have from the early 1990s of the railroad grade & a major trestle remnant, as these are all covered up by either current housing or a large concrete water detention basin. All along the remaining grade, artifacts can be readily found, such as several concrete foundations, rail joiner plates, rail spikes, pieces of broken rail, and rail shoulder bolts & square nuts. Once in the 1990s I even found a piece of 45-pound rail. The rail paraphernalia is much larger here than up by the mines.

    Up top around the mines themselves, another railroad line was run to service the adits & tramways...it was much lighter, using 25-pound rails without tie plates (rails spiked directly to the ties/sleepers), although it was also 3-foot gauge. Ties with rail spikes still embedded are still present throughout much of the mine area, but some have been covered by later bulldozer workings. LOTS of mining detritus remains, and several adits remain open for exploration. Some of the more interesting adits have been dynamited shut: some recently by the BLM, others long ago as I have found intact rails/ties still poking out from under the rubble. Quite a fascinating place, and my favorite time to go is in the middle of summer when nobody else is foolish enough to come out in the heat and bother me!

    Compare to my 1999 Arden Plaster photo thread: http://forums.ghosttowns.com/showthread.php?t=17648

    NOTE: 4-wheel-drive (or an ATV) is required to drive up to the mines, unless you don't mind a bit of a steep hike up to them...but it makes it easier to navigate the extensive workings.

    Okay, enough jibber-jabber, on to the photos (recent digital; I plan on scanning my earlier prints in a month or two)!


    - View from old Arden Plaster RR grade west up to mines:
    (Key B1)


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    - An original drain pipe in APRR grade:
    (Key B2)


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    - Concrete foundation alongside old APRR grade:
    (Key B3)


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    - Some neat rockwork outlining the APRR grade:
    (Key B4)


    (Continued below)
    Last edited by silverstate55; 09-24-2009 at 08:54 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Artifacts found along the Arden Plaster Railroad grade

    - A sheared-off shoulder bolt & wood tie:
    (Key B4)


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    - Rail spike & broken rail joiner:
    (Key B4)


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    - Piece of rail joiner, sheared-off shoulder bolts & accompanying square nuts, and a piece of broken rail crown:
    (Key B4)



    You can still find these items lying where I photographed them if you search the north grade carefully...

    (Continued below)
    Last edited by silverstate55; 09-24-2009 at 08:53 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default Aerial Tramway Base

    - Looking west into the northernmost base area for an aerial tramway loading point; it involved a large rock cut:
    (Key B5)


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    - Into the rock cut, which turns from westward towards the south:
    (Key B5)


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    - End of the rock cut for the northernmost aerial tramway loading base:
    (Key B5)


    (Continued below)
    Last edited by silverstate55; 09-24-2009 at 08:52 AM.

  4. #4
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    Default Up top in the mines area

    - Looking down at the northernmost rock cut aerial tramway base; in the distance you can see the lonely hill pockmarked with gypsum mine workings I call the "detached mine workings" since they are separate from these primary mine workings where this photo was taken from:
    (Key B6)


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    - Concrete foundations for aerial tramway loading station:
    (Key B7)


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    (Key B7)


    If you look at the top-center of the photo above, you can see what looks like a very large cleared dirt area; this is the new flood control detention basin for the residences nearby; a large fill with trestle used to occupy this space, but has been obliterated several years ago by this detention basin...I do have print photos of the fill & trestle concrete footings. Continuing right (south) in the photo above, neighborhoods actually encroach all the way to the foot of the mountain range (Desert Hills) just below the mines...as you drive from the south end of the mines northwards, you can actually look into peoples' back yards; sad...



    (Continued below)
    Last edited by silverstate55; 09-25-2009 at 06:00 AM. Reason: Added suburban sprawl info

  5. #5
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    Default Up top in the mines area

    - Line of wood ties still lying in place, with rail spikes still embedded:
    (Key B8)


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    - Closeup of wood railroad tie with spikes still embedded in it:
    (Key B8)


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    - Railroad switch points I found buried under a rubble pile, along with wood ties:
    (Key B8)


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    - 25-pound rails I found sticking out from underneath a rubble pile:
    (Key B9)


    (Continued below)
    Last edited by silverstate55; 09-24-2009 at 08:55 AM.

  6. #6
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    Default Up top in mines area

    - Intact rails (3-foot-gauge) I found buried under rubble pile, still spiked to wood ties!
    (Key B9)


    --------------------------------------------------

    (Key B9)


    --------------------------------------------------

    - Area where I found the intact rails; they ran straight under the rubble pile into the now-shut adit...I did find a "secret entrance" to this adit, which was still complete with rails inside, but it was too treacherous to enter by myself & so I will have to await a partner to enter & explore (hint, hint):
    (Key B9)


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    - Narrow-gauge railroad grade heading N-NW for roughly 1 mile to another loooooong adit (last several times I tried to explore it, I found it inhabited by a couple of BIG owls; I didn't want to disturb them so didn't enter):
    (Key A9, B9)
    Last edited by silverstate55; 09-24-2009 at 10:03 AM.

  7. #7
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    Default

    I'll post more photos later, when I get the prints scanned & dig up some other digital pics I have somewhere.

    **ETA: 1999 prints scanned to digital & posted at http://forums.ghosttowns.com/showthread.php?t=17648**

    I hope you enjoyed these, thanks for reading & viewing!

    And yes, my avatar & profile pics feature my truck negotiating the north 4x4 trail to access the mining areas of the Arden Plaster Mines.
    Last edited by silverstate55; 09-24-2009 at 08:58 AM.

  8. #8
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    Default

    Great pics! Thanks for sharing!

  9. #9
    Darin's Avatar
    Darin is offline Rock Crawlin GPS Moving Map Totin Trailblazing Expert Ghost Towner
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    Default

    Great series...thanks for sharing.

  10. #10
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    Thanks fellas, I appreciate the kind comments.

    I'll post the scanned prints when I get the chance; I could use my scanner at home, but I have had very good experiences at our local CVS drug store, when they scan directly from the negatives, and it saves me the time that I don't really have these days.

    If anyone is ever visiting the Las Vegas area and can at least rent a 4x4 of some kind (or have access to ATVs), this complex is really worth exploring.

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