Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Pattons Camps and Southern Cross Mine

I was rounding the corner on my walk this morning, when my retired BLM friend called to see if we were coming on the drive today. I was delighted he called, because we did not have plans. I hustled back to camp and we quickly got organized.

The drive destinations today include stops at Patton's training campsites, the Southern Cross Mine, and Patton's water dam. Should be interesting to see these bits of history.

The group assembled this morning on the northeast corner of Quartzsite at the Arco gas station. From there, we headed east along I-10 for a mile or so and through a gate onto to BLM land.

Soon we head north on BLM 077 (if I remember correctly). This road parallels the foothills of the Plomosa Mtns as it heads north away from I-10.

A view up into the foothills as we drive north.

Soon, we reach our first destination. This is the campsite of Patton's A Company. The company camped here while on maneuvers and training for war in desert conditions. The men of A company marked the site, and the A marking has persisted out here for 75+ years. Thankfully, it has not been vandalized.

You can see where they drove and parked the tanks in the campsite area. The desert surface does not seem change all that much over the lifetime of humanity. It's a good thing to keep in mind, that moving rocks, or driving across untracked desert, will leave tracks that will persist for a long time.

The group is careful to stay on existing roadways. We had a group of 7 vehicles today, 4 UTVs and 3 SUVs, led by retired BLM Ranger Jim T. While we were stopped, a couple of the guys did a little rock hounding.

After a break and some photos, we loaded up and headed north to the B Company campsite.

We again took a break at B Company. In addition to the B Company mark, there was an Arrow in the rock. Nobody knew for sure why, but there are arrows like this at other training campsites. Some say the arrows were there to direct airplanes to the airfield near Quartzsite.

Beyond the WWII campsites, we pass through a number of washes as we traverse along the Plomosa foothills.

The colors of the grasses in this spot caught my eye. So very different than most of the desert flora.

We turn east again, on road 076, driving up the valley toward our next destination.

This ruin is called "Indian Lookout". There is a pamphlet explaining some of the sites and mines in this area, and I need to stop at the BLM office to get one. I scanned over the booklet for a minute, and it seemed that the purpose of this ruin is somewhat a mystery.

Our next destination today was the Southern Cross Mine. The mine was further up the valley, and it was a gorgeous valley indeed. I put together a panorama of the valley standing in the ruin of one of the mine buildings.

The group stood for an informal portrait at the mine site and then we started back for town.

The road we took on the way back was a lot of fun. A challenging wash, and then we hopped up and over a number of dunes and washes with a substrate a distinctly different white color.

Our final destination today was at an earthen dam. This dam was built by Patton's army to capture and hold water for use during their stay. In the first photo, we see the level outline of the dam.

Here is a view of the dam from where we stopped up on top.

That wrapped up the drive today. We had a great group, and a lot of fun seeing the historic WWII training sites and old mines. To cap off the day, most of us met at Silly Al's for a pizza dinner. Yum.

Tomorrow, we need to head to the grocery store and the plan after is to relax and enjoy some downtime reading.

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