Mining for Adventure
On the Mighty Colorado River
Story and photographs by Greg Aragon
esides house boating on Lake
Mohave, I also discovered a couple other treasures on my recent
trip to the Colorado River near Boulder City, NV. I got a rare, behind
the scene tour of the Hoover Dam, and also explored an authentic, historic
Located a couple miles off the river, in Eldorado Canyon,
the Techatticup Mine is the oldest, richest and most famous gold mine
in Southern Nevada. It is part of a surreal ghost town that has been
restored and preserved by Tony and Bobbie Werly, and today looks like
a giant movie set, with original structures from the 1800s, along scores
of old vehicles and signs, and a general store/museum building with
historic mining equipment, classic photographs of miners and Native
Americans, frozen rattlesnakes, a bedroom full of aliens and more.
The historic Techatticup Mine Camp is a surreal
ghost town that looks like a giant movie set
But the highlight of the town is the original mines,
which visitors can now tour. Led by Tony, the Old El Dorado Mine tour
I went on began at a small doorway into the side of a sandy, rock mountain.
Here, Tony turned on his flashlight and led a group of us back in time
to the 1850s, when men used donkeys and dynamite to tunnel through rock,
dirt and ore in search of gold and silver.
Owner Tony Werly gives mine tours and is an expert
on El Dorado Canyon and its early inhabitants
It was a bit scary and claustrophobic at first, but
the tunnel soon opened up a little and I was able to relax and follow
Tony through the maze of dimly lit corridors and learn about the arduous
life of miners. These hard working individuals worked tirelessly in
pitch black, dangerous conditions with little air and only a few candles
for light. They dug 100 ft down into the earth and built wooden support
frames and rail tracks to move massive amounts of rock and dirt in hopes
of finding veins of gold.
I was fascinated to learn that many of the supplies
for the mines and the town that sprung up around them came down the
Colorado River on Steam Boats from as far as the Gulf of California
Techatticup Mine is the oldest, richest and most
famous gold mine in Southern Nevada
The Techatticup Mine site has also been in numerous
movies, including the 1997 thriller Breakdown, starring Kurt
Russell and Kathleen Quinlan, as was 2001's 3000 Miles to Graceland.
The latter film, which featured Kurt Russell, Kevin Costner, Courtney
Cox, Christian Slater and David Arquette, shot several scenes here including
one in which the Lucky Strike gas station blows up. Props from this
movie, including a crashed airplane are still scattered about the site.
The mine site is famous for Hollywood movies and
many props have been left behind
The Techatticup Mine Tour is put on by Black
Canyon River Adventures, a part of the tour company Forever Resorts.
The company also offers an awesome behind-the-scene raft tour of the
Hoover Dam, the Colorado River and Black Canyon.
Called the Black Canyon Raft Tour, this unique day trip
aboard a motorized pontoon takes guests through spectacular Black Canyon
a natural gorge of the Colorado River immediately below Hoover Dam.
The excursion is led by a knowledgeable captain/guide who steers the
boat down river, while telling the historic story of the mighty Colorado
and the building of the Hoover Dam.
The Black Canyon Raft Tour takes guests on a rare
behind-the-scenes tour of Hoover Dam and the mighty Colorado River
Located a short distance from the Las Vegas Strip in
Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the trip starts in a restricted
area behind the 726-ft tall dam. During the half-day journey our guide
told us the fascinating story of massive Hoover Dam, which was built
out of millions of barrels of concrete in the 1930s. The trip also gives
visitors incredible vistas of Black Canyon and its 2,000 ft rock walls,
which were formed over millions of years by volcanic activity; and passes
beneath the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.
During the half-day tour guests are given lunch
and the pontoon stops at secluded coves for swimming and relaxing
At 840 ft above the Colorado River, the 2,000 ft-long
bridge is the second-highest in the country, after the Royal Gorge Bridge.
It opened in 2010 and is the main section of the Hoover Dam Bypass Project,
which spans Black Canyon, connecting Arizona and Nevada. Besides being
the world's highest concrete arch bridge, it is the first concrete-steel
composite arch bridge built in the US. It incorporates a 1,060 ft-long,
twin-rib concrete arch, which is the widest concrete arch in the Western
Tours of the Colorado River offer fascinating history
on Hoover Dam and the new 840 ft-tall Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial
For more information on taking the Techatticup Mine
Tour or the Black Canyon Raft Tour, visit: www.BlackCanyonAdventures.com
or call 800-455-3490.
Lake Mohave Houseboat Vacation; The
Ideal Cruise? A River Runs Through It; Columbia
River Cruise; Arizona
Cowboy College; St.
Louis, Missouri; Cruising
the St. Lawrence River; Small