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Noonday Mine. Tecopa, California.
35°49'43.97"N 116° 5'48.08"W
USGS Full Report
Primary Mining: Lead, Silver
Secondary Mining: Gold, Copper
Noonday Mine is located Southwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. Nearest town is Tecopa, California. Primary mining in the area included: Gold, copper, lead, silver, and zinc.
The first thing you'll notice as you approach the Noonday Mine is the long ore chute which is mostly still standing. There doesn't seem to be enough angle in the chute, so I imagine it required lots of maintenance and shoveling to keep it free flowing.
If you take the time to walk the length of the ore chute and loading areas, you'll find some nice mineral samples that have fallen over the side and through cracks when the mine was still in production. We've found heavy pieces of lead and silver ore and colorful blue-green pieces of what we believe to be Aurichalcite.
The most common complaint I receive about this site is that I give coordinates. The second most common complaint I receive is that I got a mine name wrong. Every mine page on this site contains a link to the official USGS or MSHA record. You can find those links just below the coordinates at the top of each mine page. I don't just make up these mine names. I do want these accounts to be accurate, so if anyone knows of a database which supercedes those government agencies, please forward the information.
There is a portal to the rear valley of Noonday Mine with a downed trellis bridge. The two mines within that valley are most commonly referred to as the Grant and Oro Fino Mines. The proper name of those mines depends on who you ask and the name they were given. Those mines have been bought and sold a few times. Correctly, both rear mines have been registered as "Noonday", "Grant" , "Mabel", "Oro Fino", and "Shoshone" mines.
Noonday Mine spans many levels and has been closed and reopened a few times. Because of this, the interior maps I was able to find were not entirely accurate. Adding to the confusion is this mine has multiple portals, collars and incline shafts, and over the years, many have painted exit arrows in many directions. Several of them are connecting and if you aren't careful with navigation, you can enter and exit different sides of the mountain.
We've visited this mine a few times and felt we had a good understanding of the inner workings. Looking for something new, we crawled up the cleared incline fault line. It was fairly uniform most of the way up the incline with about three feet of crawl space between floor and ceiling. The space was much longer and wider than we thought it would be. It was cleared well over 50 yards wide. We only went up about another 50 yards, but it went much further. It was much larger than our lights could penetrate.
When a wide area of ore is removed, miners would most often leave columns of rock in place for support. Throughout most of this mine, we found few natural support columns and none in the incline fault zone. Imagine a space inside a mountain, wider than a large grocery store, being supported with just wood. That's a lot of mountain to hold up.
Up the inclined space, there were plenty of places to grip, but sliding our way up 50 yards was strenuous and dirty. Within those spaces, we found many leveled ledges. Some had candles, clothes and food cans. They were like little apartments for the miners. Seeing that area gave us a better understanding of the harsh conditions of historic mining.
Some of the wooden supports in those upper levels were bulging from the tremendous amount of weight they bear. We were well above the main adit level when we noticed they were failing and quickly made our way back down. Eventually, that portion of the mine will collapse on itself and the mountain will be a few feet shorter.
On our way down the incline, we had a discussion about whether or not we would have enough time to feel anything if it did collapse on us. My theory was it would be instant like stepping on a bug. My wife believes, even if instantly smashed, your soul would have just enough time for at least one curse word.