War Eagle Mine. Tecopa, California.
35°49'14.84"N 116° 5'29.98"W
USGS Full Report
Primary Mining: Iron
Secondary Mining: Gold, Silver, Zinc
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War Eagle Mine is located Southwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. Nearest town is Tecopa, California. Primary mining in the area included: Gold, iron, copper, lead, silver, and zinc.
War Eagle mine is the best known mine in the Tecopa Mining District. It's usually the first stop in Tecopa for underground explorers and not far from pavement making for easy access. To date, we've located five lower levels, but there may be a sixth.
The deepest levels are located at War Eagle Site 2 on the East side of the mountain. Site 1 facing South has some depth and may even connect to the larger Site 2, but we have yet to locate a connector. War Eagle Site 1 has one of the largest ore hoppers we've seen. There are pictures of it in the gallery below, but you really can't gauge the size from a picture. It's something you have to see to comprehend.
At several of the lower drift levels, we found live explosives. Some were in partial open boxes and in other places, they were stacked loose on the floor. By itself, nitroglycerin is extremely shock sensitive. When mixed with something absorbent like crushed seashell, sawdust, or clay then tightly wrapped in paper, it becomes the more stable form of dynamite.
Old dynamite becomes unstable because nitroglycerin can seep or sweat out and collect, making it shock sensitive again. To help prevent this from happening during long storage, we've seen dynamite crates labeled week 1-4. The weeks were written in alternating directions at each edge of the crate indicating the crates were to be rotated weekly and in what direction.
War Eagle Mine was last worked in the late 1950's. The dynamite we observed was already manufactured with an updated wax paper method which prevents sweating and maintains a predictable level of safety. Safer than the older untreated paper roll method, but it's still dynamite. Don't disturb if you find any. Additionally, we observed no blasting caps necessary for detonation.
Getting underground to the lowest levels should be prepared as an all day event and not recommended for novice explorers. After years of returning to this mine, we have yet to see it all. If we returned many more years, its doubtful we ever would. It's that massive. Reaching the lower levels is by way of a double incline shaft. No rope work is required to reach the lower levels, but it is a steep incline. Reaching those lower levels is easy, but ascending that incline takes a lot of effort and time. It's not as simple as climbing stairs and requires regular rest stops on the way up.
The lower levels should be considered unsafe and avoided, but if you plan on reaching lower levels, double your usual water supply and pack a light meal. Pack at least three lights and extra batteries. Our last trip into War Eagle Mine, we were underground over 5 hours. Over an hour of that was ascending.