Having been invited to ATV Adventure Days in Beaver, we were gathering to venture into the Mineral Mountains for a day of discovery. Guides were provided by members of the Tusher Mountain ATV Club.
This club got its start in 2009 when a group of people who love to ride ATVs realized there were trails that they knew existed but were difficult to find. They organized to reestablish and enjoy these trails.
Poring over old maps and using the tools offered by Google Earth, they began to remap trails that were built by miners, loggers and hunters. Fires that burned off foliage caused washouts that obliterated some of the trails while others had become overgrown and faint.
Working with federal agencies, they began to reopen and maintain the trails that are a part of the heritage of the county. One of the members bought a trail Cat that he uses to maintain the trails and to rebuild trails that get washed out.
We were headed that morning on a trail to the Lincoln Mines. It took us west of Beaver on a road that was filled on both sides with joggers. Not wanting to raise any dust clouds, we rode this section at a very slow pace. Past the joggers, we continued our ride to Minersville Reservoir where we took a break.
The Rocky Ford Dam was built in 1914 which impounded the waters of the Beaver River to form this 401-acre body of water. Fishermen, campers, boaters and farmers have benefited from its creation.
Making our way around the lake, we began to climb Yellow Mountain. Stopping on a bench, we took a look back east over the beauty of the oasis created by Minersville Reservoir.
That respite was quickly overshadowed by the technical climb over Yellow Mountain. It was a pretty trail through the junipers, but the pretty was interrupted with the need to negotiate around big rocks and to climb narrow gullies.
Reaching the top, we stopped to take in a big patch of green down below in the valley. We learned that this was Minersville where we planned to have lunch.
Working our way down the other side of the mountain, we made a loop that took us to the Creole Mine. Crossing a small stream, we circled our machines and listened to Bob Woldon, our guide, talk about the mines.
As a part of the Lincoln Mining District, which consists of about nine mines in the Mineral Mountains, it is commonly understood that early Spanish explorers were the first to mine this area. I found this interesting because I first learned about Spanish mining activities in Marysvale, Utah, in Bullion Canyon.
The Creole Mine is unique because a substantial amount of water flows out of this mine year-round. Bob said, “That water is so cold. I decided to get in it one time and then I decided never to do that again.” While it is not unique to find water in the process of mining, it is unusual to see the amount of water that flows out of this mine.
The Lincoln Mine after which the district is named was a source of lead for the early pioneers. It was not only used to make ammunition, but it was also for payment of goods and services.
Farmers and miners did not mix well in the beginning. Farmers feared that water contaminated in the mining process would not be good for cattle and crops. However, the county prospered in the 19th century because of a blend of farming, mining, trade and transportation. Minersville was established in 1859 to serve the needs of the mining district.
Discovery of more precious metals was kept quiet by the early pioneers because of a fear of attracting outsiders who were known for their drinking and rowdy living. Also, the technology to extract silver was not available at the time. It wasn’t until the Horn Silver Mine opened in 1875 that silver production became a factor.
Leaving this piece of history, and after enjoying lunch at the fairgrounds in Minersville, we made a fun run through a twisty wash to Rocky Ford Hollow on the south end of the reservoir. Turning east, we headed back to Beaver, finishing a ride of about 59 miles.
The best time to take these trails is in the spring or fall. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and enjoy exploring the Mineral Mountains.