Burro Schmidt Mine
10 Oct 04
Ah the Bureau of Land Mis-Management (un)Controlled Mine
Outside the main house (viewoint)
Outside the main house (viewpoint2)
Outside the main house (viewpoint3)
From Garlock, we drove only about 8 miles to get to the mine. One mile on a highway, 7 miles on gravel trails going up a mountain canyon, climbing 2500' vertically into the back country in a 4-wheel drive. There was more than one occasion I thought to myself how it would really suck to break down out here in BFE. On the way up the canyon, we stopped and tentatively explored a few mine tunnels that dove into the granite of the El Paso Mts. I couldn't imagine working these small tunnels in the hopes of finding a vein of gold or silver. What amazed me was the absolute desolation and rugged emptiness of the area these people had made their living in. (Oh BTW, those mountains are about 40 miles away in the distance.)
Plaque (This only talks on the surface of the history of the place)
After bouncing around up rough gravel roads and following small signs pointing toward the mine, we passed a broken down homestead, rounded a bend and there it was. No touristy stuff, just a plaque, some rails leading into the tunnel and a deep dark hole in the side of the mountain. I was really surprised that with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sign at the edge of the mine property, there was no official presence there. None, nada, neyt.. Given this, we wandered to the entrance of the 2460' long mine/tunnel. I kept expecting that just inside the open entry gate to find some fence or barred gate restricting access, but I walked without restriction nearly 100 feet into the mine. I would have gone further but my daughter got very antsy and begged me to return closer to the entrance. At the time, I didn’t that the mine had been cut through solid granite and required no shoring beams to safeguard the ceiling. Nothing short of dynamite or an earthquake was going to bring down those walls.
The Mine (There should be a light at the end of the tunnel, right?.. Hello...?)
** I should add an additional note that was not published in the original story (as posted in Lost Destinations).
This photo was my 3rd attempt at getting a picture of the shaft. The previous two attempts resulted in unbelievably blurry shots. At the time I didn't know this. In fact using 35mm high def, 400 speed film, it shouldn't have mattered. It was after what happened next that the reason became interestingly transparent. The tunnel complex is haunted. After taking the first two shots, my daughter started getting very upset. She had refused to enter the tunnel and started saying that something was coming down the tunnel towards me. Indeed when I turned around and looked back into the darkness, I noticed what she saw - a pair of eyes moving towards me. No body, no face, just eyes.. In fact I shined my Mag-Light right through the area and no-one was there except the eyes. Ghosts and hauntings have never really bothered me, so instead of panicking, I simply commented that the mine was very impressive and I merely wanted to take some pictures. At this point my daughter and son were completely freaking out. When I turned back, the eyes were gone and the next shot I took is the one that's posted.
Believe it or not...
Outside the main house (front)
Outside the main house (backyard)
Outside the main house (invitation)
Coming back around the bend there was the homestead again. Since it was only 200 feet from the mine entrance I figured it had to be associated with the mine. After calling out several times and getting no answer, I left the kids in the Jeep and wandered right up to the open side door. The place was no only uttered abandoned but completely unattended and strewn about was the debris, tools, parts and brica brac of William “Burro” Schmidt and Tonie Seger (the last caretaker). I had read before going up that she had died last year and her relatives were trying to run the property, but they had been pushed out by BLM.
More to follow soon!