So on a frequent basis I get asked how we find the old mines that we explore. I suspect that it's not much different from the urban guys finding all the "great" locations. This might disappoint some of you, but this is how it's done.
It starts with research. For us, our primary tool is Google Earth. We gather information on prospective areas (there's a bad pun in there somewhere) from paper maps, Google searches, old mining journals, and discussions of other explorers. It's pretty easy to find out about ghost towns and old mining districts, so that's where we start looking first. We use Google Earth to get an overview of the area and identify potential sites that we want to visit. We mark maps with GPS coordinates of those sites.
Now comes the hard part. We pack up the truck with exploring and camping gear, and head out for some first-hand exploration. Sure, we could go the same places that everyone else goes and see the same things that everyone else has seen, but that's not what we want to do. We want to find the long-untouched mines. We spend days on end bouncing down old mining roads to get to the next mine site. We hike miles up and down mountains looking for old diggings. We are disappointed more times than not. So many of the prospects are just a little drift that goes back 25 to 50 feet and ends at a rock wall and a huge pile of rat droppings.
But every now and then we find a jewel. One that no one has been in during the last 60 or 70 years. These are the ones that keep us going. The ones that we don't share, not even to our exploring friends. We've gotten burned too many times.
So the bottom line is that if you want to be on the leading edge of exploring, you have to put in the effort. It doesn't matter if you are in the middle of a city or out in the middle of nowhere, nothing happens if you don't work at it. Now there's nothing wrong with going where everyone else goes. Just don't be disappointed when other people mention that they were there years ago.
This was one of our hopeful sites. A deep shaft, a head-frame, and decent tailings. A lot of hiking, hauling gear, and in the end, disappointment. Maybe next time! Abby Normal