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Techatticup Mine Tour
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 gold mine.

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.

Techatticup Mine Camp
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.

Tony Werly touring visitors on the Old El Dorado Mine tour
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 in Mexico.

Tony Werly leading a tour group inside a tunnel at the Techatticup Mine
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.

movie props left behind at the Techatticup Mine 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.

guests on the Black Canyon Raft Tour with the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge in the background
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.

guests at a pontoon stop on the Black Canyon Raft Tour
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 Hemisphere.

the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge with Hoover Dam in the background
Tours of the Colorado River offer fascinating history on Hoover Dam and the new 840 ft-tall Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge

For more information on taking the Techatticup Mine Tour or the Black Canyon Raft Tour, visit: or, or call 800-455-3490.

Related Articles:
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 Shio Alaska

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Let Greg know what you think about his traveling adventure.

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Feedback for Harry Potter at Universal Studios

Going to Universal Studios Hollywood to see the Harry Potter "land" is on my bucket list!!

-- Nancy, Hawaii

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Feedback for A Spring Escape to Maui And Hotel Wailea

I leave here April 21 for Maui and can hardly wait. It'll be my 15th trip, more or less and I love it, and your pictures.

-- Ellie – Port Ludlow, WA

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Hi Greg,

It's not a forest of banyan trees in Lahaina by the harbor. It's one huge tree, about 140 years old. It's an important landmark of Lahaina, and one of our favorite views.We always stay at the Pioneer Inn, overlooking the harbor and the banyan tree. Every evening thousands of mynah birds fly into the tree, chattering and fluttering until they settle down for the night. Otherwise, great article.

-- Virginia – Northridge, CA

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Feedback for Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa

Very nice story, Greg.

-- Maris Somerville – Los Angeles, CA

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