Mining Ruins, Tumco, California
Tumco Historic Mining Town
Visited this remote mining ghost town in desert of California and found not much was left standing after a flash flood whipped this town in the early 1900s. We walked 2+ miles through the valley and found several foundations and a few brick building left standing in ruin. The location was sealed to any off-road vehicles, so in order to attempt cave exploration you would have to walk a good distance. Most vertical caves were gated.
Tumco is an abandoned gold mining town and is also one of the earliest gold mining areas in California. It has a history spanning some 300 years, with several periods of boom and bust. Gold was first discovered by Spanish colonists as they moved northward from Sonora, Mexico. According to legend, two young boys came into their camp one evening with their shirts filled with gold ore. These muchachos cargados (loaded boys) were the namesake for the Cargo Muchacho Mountains, where the Tumco deposits occur. Following the first discovery of gold, numerous small mines were operated by Mexican settlers for many years.
In 1877, the Southern Pacific Railroad completed the Yuma to Los Angeles line of its transcontinental route. With the presence of the mountains, a gold rush into the area began. This initial rush to stake mining claims soon gave way to mining companies that moved into the area, purchased claims and developed the mines on a large scale. A 12 mile wood pipeline pumped over 100,000 gallons of water from the Colorado River per day, and the railroad carried mine timbers from northern Arizona for use in the expansive underground workings. Ultimately, over 200,000 ounces of gold was taken from the mines in the area. Tumco was a typical mining town of its day. Historical accounts talk of rich eastern investors, unscrupulous charlatans and colorful characters in the raucous townsite and the mining boom ultimately leading to financial ruin. Although little can be seen of Tumco, during the boom time of the 1890's, it supported a population of at least 500 people and the 40 and 100 stamp mills of the mine produced $1,000 per day in gold.