Exploring Panamint Valley
Finally getting around to exploring the local Panamint Valley and its backroads and history. A great place to practice social distancing. These shots are in the vicinity of the Modoc, Minietta mines and Lookout City. Further explorations later this week with a proper truck.
Day 1 – Discovering the road to Lookout City, and some of the Nadeau Trail
Telescope and Rogers peaks of the Panamint Range from Searles Valley, on the way to Panamint Valley. Slate Range in the foreground.
Telescope Peak has recently had a frosting during a late spring storm … from Panamint Valley.
The Nadeau Trail, no longer passable … from circa 1875, accessing the Modoc and Lookout districts.
Not too much left of Remi’s road on this end. There are other ways around.
A hopper on the way up toward Lookout City. The road was beyond reasonable for a Subaru, so we will come back soon with the Dodge truck. This is as far as we made it on foot.
Silver, lead, zinc and copper were major minerals of this district.
A more distant view of the Nadeau Trail and a freshly frosted Telescope Peak.
Local flora fascination …the prickly poppy … springtime in the hinterlands.
Local flora fascination … encelia, aka brittle bush … springtime in the hinterlands.
Local flora fascination … Mojave Fishhook cactus … springtime in the hinterlands.
Local flora fascination … beaver tail cactus … springtime in the hinterlands. Day 2 – the Minnietta Mine
Kicking around Panamint Valley some more, visiting the Minnietta Mine in the Modoc District today. Great cabin in good shape available for public use, first come first serve. Make sure you have the right vehicle to get there. The road is not Subarubable.
If the cabin is occupied, you will see a flag flying on the front deck, if not vehicles parked around.
Commanding a grand view of the Panamint Range and Valley.
There are quite a few relic foundations in the area.
Some of the diggings up the road from the cabin. Many of the adits are still accessible to the brave and perhaps foolhardy.
Found one lone Desert Five Spot Day 3 – Modoc Mine
Peeling back Panamint. The explorations continue along the Nadeau Road (vs. the Nadeau Trail … more on that in photo comments). Eventually we found our way to the Modoc Mine, and discovered the foot trail that will someday lead us to Lookout City. (My Dodge truck is too wide and long of wheel base to accommodate the road leading to the City.)
The geology is amazing in the Argus Range on the west side of the Panamint Valley. We are travelling along the paved Nadeau Road toward a working mine off in the distance. Remi Nadeau was a freight operator very active in the freight hauling business in the region’s heyday of the late 19th century. He had his fingers in a lot of pies. He built a lot of roads along the way.
Off the paved Nadeau Road, the Nadeau Trail is probably closer to the truth of the roads he put in back in the day. The Trail is a National Historic Trail designated by the BLM and runs about 28 miles along the west side of Panamint Valley, giving access to a lot of interesting side trips to visit historic mine operations. The Nadeau Trail is designated as P105, and these signs are found frequently connecting up with newer roads.
My truck is parked on the bottom of the valley floor below. Just getting to the spur road involved walking over boulders and straddling washout gullies. From there we walked up this old road to the Modoc Mine, which extricated about 2 million dollars in ore in its day. Few adits to be found, no structures remaining to speak of. We confirmed the site through GPS. Silver and lead were the ores of interest, and interestingly, one of those ores was Coronadite, an oxide of lead and magnesium.
A lot of good and impressive rock work remains in the area, though we did not find any buildings or structures left.
From what I gather, Chinese labor may have been responsible for the craftsmanship of the rock works. Telescope Peak and the Panamint Mountains frame the valley in the distance.
Lookout city is on the peak at the top of the picture, above the Modoc mine. There is supposed to be trail up the mountain. Lookout City had three saloons and I am sure these miners wanted the shortest route possible to their relief.
An interesting relic … I wonder if this is a small boiler for a stamp mill?
A well of fame, full of interesting dates. some more interesting than others.
And we found the foot trail leading up the mountain. We are quite a bit higher than the mine at this point, and this must be the trail that leads to Lookout City. You can see in the link below why I wont take my truck up there. One day we will make the climb!
Background on mineral wealth a t the Minnietta Mine
Background on mineral wealth at the Modoc Mine
Some information about Remi Nadeau
Directory of the Saline Valley Chronicles
I enjoyed your photos and descriptions. This is the only way I probably will get to see this area. It is interesting to me both in a geographical and historic way. You have a lot of interesting links, especially about the mule skinners. Will take some time to read more of them.
It certainly must be a lot different from Haines. I don’t know when I will be able to travel again because of my age and underlying health conditions, but I hope to go to Haines in 2022 or later. Want to photograph the bears and COYs there.
I look forward to hearing from you when you get back to Haines!
Hi Susan … Hi Desert Hiking Club in Yucca Valley, CA camps in the Panamint Valley. You are welcome to join our club. Check us on Meetup.com * We have been up the dirt road towards the mine in the past. 4WD is needed for the last part. We also visit other interesting places in the valley. Hiking and camping. We are considerate about members who have health and age concerns. We are not competitive.
In that 1st picture of the series on the Wall of Fame, I was about to give you shit for adding your own graffiti whenI realized it was just your watermark. Nicely placed and in just the right color.
Just discovered this blog. So interesting! I made it up to Lookout City in the mid 70’s. Love your stories about those days in Saline!
We do not have the right vehicle to make it up there, but understand there is a footpath from the Modoc …. it’s on the list of ‘things to do’