Tag Archives: mining

Aragonite, Utah

Places that you may never have heard of

Due to my love of traveling I’ve made countless cross country trips by car.

Our interstate highway system gives us easy access to most of the USA. On the road, I’ll sometimes see an exit with a name that I don’t recognize. Places with colorful names stick in my mind. I’d jot down the name and when I get home search to find out about the place I passed. earlier.

Aragonite in the high desert of north central Utah is one such place. Now a ghost town, it was originally set up in the early 1900s to mine the crystalline mineral of the same name. Buildings were erected there to house and supply the miners. These mining operations lasted only a short time but later reopened to quarry mine for limestone. One report says that this mining included construction of shafts and deep holes so if you visit the area, watch your step. There is no longer is any mining in here.

A Desert Remote Locality

You can also tell that Aragonite is remote by the surrounding localities. To the west is the Utah Test and Training Range. This is a military base where supersonic flights are routinely conducted. To the southwest is the Dugway Proving Grounds an Army facility where chemical and biological weapons testing are performed.

Not far from the townsite is the Aptus Incinerator. It is used mainly for hazardous waste disposal including PCBs. The operating company is Clean Harbors which claims “ample on-site storage capacity allows for acceptance of large volumes of material before treatment. The site can also be easily accessed by rail or truck, which keeps transport costs down. And, an on-site lab assures timely approval and efficient processing of shipments.” Clean Harbors has been cited multiple times for violating EPA regulations.

Sometimes places are deliberately remote to keep people away from them.

I found that aside from its interesting name Aragonite’s history and surroundings are a worthwhile stop the next time I’m in Utah.

Still Interested

More of my places that you may never have heard of are in

Wamsutter, Wyoming
Aragonite, Utah
Dunphy, Nevada

A Tunnel Over The Highway

Black Mesa, Arizona

I have been driving back and forth annually along US 160 on my way to/from the Phoenix area for at least twenty years.

As an avid photographer, one of my favorite scenic locations is Monument Valley Navajo Trial Park located near in Kayenta, AZ. Not far from Kayenta I would pass by an unusual structure that crosses over the highway.

I was curious about this tunnel-like bridge in the area known as Black Mesa and did a search to see if I could find out the purpose of the structure. Here’s a little history about the two photographs below known as the Kayenta Mine.

Peabody Mining

Going back to 1964, Peabody Western Coal contracted with the Navajo and Hopi Tribes for the mineral rights on the mesa and use of its large underground aquifer. The company constructed two coal strip mines – one higher up on the mesa and a second in Kayenta.

The two operations regularly pumped 3 million gallons of water from the aquifer daily to wash and then transport a slurry of coal. Peabody constructed a 275-mile pipeline that carried the coal slurry to Laughlin, NV to generate electricity.

The coal mined in Kayenta was transported on a long conveyor belt (I called it an elevated tunnel) to a large silo. This coal was later shipped by train to the Navajo Generation Station in nearby Page, AZ.

The elevated conveyor carries coal across US Highway 160

The coal is stored in this silo awaiting transport by train to Page, AZ

Controversey Over Water Usage

The two tribes soon claimed that the use of so much water from the aquifer was causing a decline in the amount potable water for their personal, farming and livestock operations. Additionally, this volume of water was not in keeping with the tribes’ cultural and religious need for clean water.

By the end of the 1990s, opposition to Peabody’s strip mining of the mesa had taken hold and the Black Mesa Mine’s last day of operation was December 2008.

Operations at the Kayenta Mine ended in late 2019 as the Navajo Generation Station closed.

The overhead conveyor and silo are no longer in use but the Navajos and Hopis in Black Mesa are hoping for environmental mitigation to their sacred lands.

For more information about Black Mesa click here.

Argenta, NV

Places that you may have never heard of

Friends know that I’m a big fan of traveling and do so frequently by car. Whether I’m visiting relatives who live far away or I’m vacationing at distant places, it’s usually a cross country trek.

Anyone who has traveled on our extensive road system has driven past signs denoting names of places of which they’ve never heard. Those places that especially stick out to me are ones that have colorful names. One of my “hobbies” is to note these names and later (sometimes weeks, sometimes months later) find out more about these places.

One of these places is Argenta, Nevada and this is what I learned.

Argenta is a ghost down in central Nevada. In the mid 1860’s prospectors discovered silver in the area. The town was planning to develop as a shipping center for the nearby mines and in Austin to the south. However, the town of Battle Mountain had stronger ties to the silver industry and by 1871 the entire town moved to Battle Mountain making Argenta effectively a mining ghost town.

Argenta remained vacant until 1930 when barite was discovered nearby. This mine in Argenta Mountain was operated by the Baker Hughes Company until it closed in 2015.

One of the Baker Hughes operations alongside a railroad siding and Interstate 80

Well, that’s the short story about Argenta, NV.

Yet curiosity remains high and I hope to report on other interesting names of places that are part of my hobby.

More of my places that you may never have heard of are

Wamsutter, Wyoming
Aragonite, Utah
Dunphy, Nevada