Saturday, March 28, 2015

CR 288 and CR 291; Two Roads off State Highway 95.

After exploring the various San Juan County roads off of Routes 191 and 491; it was simply a given that we would begin exploring the roads off of State Highway 95. It's the "wanderlust" thing; the "where does this road go" thing; and we are addicted to those things. By the way, if you happen to be an ATV enthusiast, you will love these roads I'm writing about.

Lets me start off with Warren Allen Road (CR 288); it's only 6.5 miles itself and ends on CR 277 which I'll write about at a later date.  Basically lined with shrub trees and bushes, an occasional glimpse of a canyon, and pretty boring for the most part when it comes to sight seeing.  About 2.4 miles up, you'll come to a split to CR 2571 which will take you back to State Highway 95, or continue on to CR 277.  It's the dirt trails leading off to the left and right of these county roads that ATVers will enjoy.

Dry River Bed

The next road was a lot more scenic, and we got some get views of Cottonwood Canyon; West Water Oil Well Road (CR 291).  Sorry folks, no mileage reading for this road; we were having too much of a good time to pay attention to an odometer.  There was plenty of evidence though that ATVers love this area.

Cottonwood Canyon

Standing at the edge of the cliff, taking photos, when suddenly we heard two ravens calling to each other.  We turned just in time to watch them take flight over the canyon; it was so silent out there, that the flapping of their wings was the only sound we heard.  A slight breeze touched my face, and I wonder if it came from their wings.  We didn't move, I didn't take one photo of them; I didn't want to ruin the moment with the click of the camera shutter.  Sometimes you just have to enjoy a scene with your senses, and keep it in your memory.

Mary Cokenour

Friday, March 27, 2015

Nine Mile Canyon Map and Legend - Updated March 2015

For all you visitors to Nine Mile Canyon in Carbon County, Utah; here is the updated map and legend I just finished creating.  Roy and I spent eight hours there on Monday, March 23rd; riding 5-10 miles per hour, noting down odometer readings and taking photographs.  If you've never been to 9 Mile, or it has been awhile, since your last visit; then enjoy finding all the Fremont Rock Art and Ruin sites we found.

Mary Cokenour

Nine Mile Canyon Map

Nine Mile Canyon Legend

Nine Mile Canyon (as of March, 2015)

Located in Carbon County, outside of Wellington (Route 6/191), Utah.  An 80 mile road (50 miles west to east; 30 miles south to north); NO services available; private ranches (RESPECT private property/no trespassing signs); touring is FREE; take ALL trash with you; do NOT desecrate rock art and ruin sites.

Set odometer to zero when turn made onto road to Nine Mile Canyon (from Route 6/191 onto Soldier Creek Road – currently a Chevron Station on the corner).  Mileage may vary 1/10th to 2/10ths from mile markers due to curvature of the roadway; many sites are 50 to 100 feet upwards, so be prepared to park, exit vehicle and look.  There will also be signatures with dates going back to the 1880s of pioneers, ranchers and visitors coming through the area.  Do NOT leave your mark!

Mile Mark

05.7 – Dugout Canyon Mine, road goes southward...

12.7 – Mine Buildings and Offices; north side of road.

21.1 – Entrance to Nine Mile Canyon.

24.0 - Nine Mile Ranch and Campground; south side (odometer read 23.8).

26.7 – First Site (rock art site); north side of road.

27.7 – Cottonwood Glen Picnic Area; south side.

29.7 – “Bolo Man”; north side, approx. 100 feet up

31.2 – “GB 1934”; north side, ground level.

31.5 – “Tug of War” panel; north side, ground level.

31.8 – Argyle Canyon, road travels northward; rock art half mile on eastern wall.

32.1 – Deer Panel; north side, approx. 100 feet up.

32.2 – Snake figure; north side, approx. 150 feet up.

32.4 – “Man with Antlers”; north side, ground level.

32.5 – Balanced Rock, north side of road; rock art around base of rock and along walls   
            extending back from Balanced Rock; includes “The Juggler”.

32.6 – Snake and Dot Panel; north side.

33.3 - Abandoned Homestead, rock art panel behind old truck, north rock wall.

33.6 - Harmon Canyon, road travels southward; upper walls on north side of main road have
              panels of rock art.

34.3 – “Towers” rock formation up on south mesa; Snake on north side, approx. 200 feet up.

34.8 – “L. Wilkinson”, Bird Panel; north side, approx. 50 feet up (across from Fasselin Ranch – no

35.2 – Jagged Line and Snake; north side, approx. 200 feet up.

35.5 – Panel of Various Animals; north side, approx. 50 feet up.

35.7 – Spider/Snowflake, Fish-like Animal; north side, approx. 50 feet up.

35.9 – Panel of Patterned Lines, Birds, Goats; north side, approx. 100 feet up.

36.1 – Oddly shaped curved figure, Bug-like shape; north side, approx. 50 feet up.

36.4 – Signatures from 1881, 1888, 1893 plus rock art; north side, ground level.

36.5 – Three separate panels featuring man with headdress, hand print, animals; north side, approx.
              100 feet up.

36.6 – Triple dot marking on east wall of canyon; man with horns and spirals on north side,
              approx. 100 feet up.

36.7 – Series of small circles; north side, approx. 30 feet up.

36.8 – Faded rock art, signatures dating 1916, 1928, 1964 – north side, ground level.

37.0 – Tree and fish, “WC Carroll 1888”; pointed rock with carved lines (near mud swallow nests);     
             north side, approx. 50 feet up.

37.2 – Five panels of various rock art; north side, approx. 30 feet up.

37.6 – Carvings of Spirals and Geometric Shapes; Spider/Snowflake and Lizard; north side.

37.8 – Mud Swallow nests upper north wall; inscription from 1818 carved along bottom of wall.

37.9 – Faded Deer; north side, ground level.

38.0 – Slanted lines, small deer and stick-like figure; north side, ground level.

38.2 – Stone house, north side of road; “Indian” wall with timber and rock art behind corral

38.2 – Nutter Ranch.

38.7 – 30 mile road northward to Gate Canyon, Trailheads, Summit Vista, Smith’s Well; ends on
           Route 40.  Rock art past the road of Spirals and Mountain Goats; north side, 300 feet up.

38.8 – Two sections of Rock art; north side approx. 6 feet from ground level, behind bushes.

38.9 – Rainbow, Circles with Lines; north side, ground level.

39.0 – Short Trail leading into small canyon area; rock art panels high up on walls (right side)
            halfway up trail.

39.1 – Reindeer panel; north side, approx. 30 feet up.

39.2 – Granary with wood logs and thatched roofing located high up on northern wall.

39.5 – Series of Dots; north wall, high up; across from cattle yard.

40.2 – “10-31-1956”; north side.

40.8 – “The Giant”; north side of road; immense giant human form carved into wall face;                    
                ground level.

41.0 – Granary high up on southern wall; park in parking area, look up and southwest.

41.6 – Spirals, Men with Bows and Arrows; north side.

41.7 – Granary almost at ground level; north side.

41.8 – Ground level stone walls and fire ring; “cowboy camp”; north side.

41.8 - Corner Granary high up on wall; look up and northeast (rock around granary looks like a
                 lizard, granary tucked under its “chin”).

41.9 – Prickly Pear ATV Trail; southward.

42.4 – Round Granary (timber visible) high up on wall at edge of ledge; look up and northeast.

43.0 – X on far wall, Rock formation forms small arch; north side

43.8 – Dry Canyon ATV Trail, road travels southward.

43.9 - Rasmussen Cave, fenced in cave with rock art; property owner sprayed painted “no         
             trespassing” warning over red deer/elk; north side.

44.0 – Daddy Canyon Complex, north side; numerous rock art sites; trail over dry wash
             leads to more rock art sites; restroom facilities available on south side of road.

45.9 – Fremont Village, south side; extremely steep trail leads upward to reconstructed
               Pit House; buried Kiva passed along way (overlooks main road).

46.0 – Cottonwood Canyon, road travels southward.

46.1 – The Big Buffalo; rock art located behind sign; trail to Big Buffalo panel north side;   
               Pregnant Buffalo located on wall behind fenced in area (Access Closed).

46.3 – The Great Hunt; rock art panel on south side plus moon phases, various animals and            
                  symbols along walls.

46.5 – “Plant Life” Panel; south side.

46.6 – Inscription from 1915 carved onto south side wall.

46.8 – Paved roadway ends; unmaintained paved road that narrows and has blind curves begins; be
               aware of oil company vehicles.

50.2 – Oil company guardhouse; STOP; guard will inform when road is clear to continue to Route 123.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Cottonwood Millsite and Mines (CR 228 and CR 274)

Back on January 25, 2015, I wrote about our first visit to the Cottonwood Millsite on South Cottonwood Road (CR 228). On the posting I showed a satellite map image of the area; we had visited the upper portion of the millsite only; now it was time to go back and check out the lower section.  We also inspected CR 274 which is separated into three different trails; 4 wheel drive for the most part, but ATV riders were out aplenty that day.

Upper Cottonwood Millsite

If you look at the satellite image, you would believe that the lower section was directly across from the upper section on CR 228, but not so!  After walking around the flat ground, finding a stray brick or two, we decided to see what was on the first trail marked CR 274.  We had only gone a quarter of a mile when Bingo!, there it was, the other, or what I call the lower, section of the Cottonwood Millsite.  For some unknown reason, this section seemed to be more "mysterious", for lack of a better word.  Maybe it was the grouping of bricks that almost looked like a fireplace or kiln; maybe it was the other groupings of stones that resembled Indian ruins (we did find a few pottery shards on the ground).  Then there was the green coloring coating many of the bricks or natural stonework; was this residue from the processing of uranium?  Except from the occasional roar of ATV motors, the area was dead quiet which added to the air of mystery.

Lower Cottonwood Millsite

View of CR 274 from the Millsite

Bricks Used

Green Coloring on Stones

Pottery Shards

So now it was time to find the mines; we knew they had been closed down, but were they buried over?  We didn't have to travel far before seeing some debris, and the large stones that closed off the opening to what was probably a mine shaft.  This first CR 274 trail ended quickly for us; it became better suited for ATVs.

Across from this trail was another one marked CR 274; well of course we explored it.  We found some debris, but it was mostly scenic, a nice ride, but a deep stream prevented us from continuing on to CR 228 which we could see ahead.  So close, yet so far; a turn around was the only answer though.

Backtracking towards State Highway 95, the third trail labeled CR 274 was way more interesting when it came to learning about the mines.   We investigated two; both had iron gates closing off the entrances, but deep enough to get a good view inside.

Mine #1

Mine #2

Bottle wedged into mine wall; a final toast farewell?

Skeletal Remains of Mining Equipment

As you hike or drive around this area, you will see many a rubble pile; these piles are an indication of where the uranium tailings once laid.  Once the Cottonwood Millsite closed down, the tailings were collected and sent to the new Monticello Millsite.  Eventually, once the dangers of uranium and vanadium were discovered, these areas were thoroughly cleaned up.  They are checked every five years to make certain there is no radiation being emitted.

The uranium and vanadium mining era in San Juan County is part of the county's factual history.  If you would like to learn more, Blue Mountain Shadows Magazine did several issues dedicated to mining history. "Mining in San Juan County" volume 16; "Cottonwood Mining" volume 25; "Cottonwood Mining #2" volume 26; "Cottonwood Mining #3" volume 27.

Mary Cokenour