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July 19 - Goblin Valley & Mines
On Thursday, I got up early to see the rocks of Goblin Valley State Park in the morning light. "Goblins" of all forms were created by erosion, and are excellent for clambering and photographing.
Then, I headed north into the hills, where there were plenty of old uranium mines to investigate. On one building was a legal document called "Affidavit of Improvements" dated this year. It seems that perhaps people can keep their claims to these mines (on public land) if they prove they've made some kind of yearly "improvements" to them — even though these mining shacks don't look like they've changed in 50 years!
I brought a Geiger counter with me in order to check for radioactivity. Sure enough, there was sufficient remaining uranium ore on the floor of this leaning shack to indicate 20x background radiation when the Geiger counter was placed on the ground. I proceeded to explore, checking for radiation everywhere. When I drove up the hill to the actual mine sites, I learned that the radioactive uranium tailings looked gray, while the safe ordinary dirt looked red. (Stay on the red dirt!)
Just before reaching to Interstate 70 again, I visited the
partially restored historic Swasey's Cabin and then followed the road
north as it passed under the interstate to Dutchman Arch.
Five miles west, a road south from exit 114 leads to the old Copper
Globe Mine, and then Link Flats where I camped for the night. On the
way to the copper mine, I ran across a curious recently-carved plaque
(known as "Sheperd's End"), apparently written about a shepherd who was
killed by bandits. The copper mine site had several mine shafts and old
buildings to investigate (but no radioactivity). One vertical mine
shaft had been recently fenced off, and had a new warning sign
indicating its depth to be over two tenths of a mile! Pebbles chucked
into this mine shaft certainly took a long time to stop making sounds
as they bounced their way down, getting fainter and fainter for several