Techatticup Mining Camp Haunted Mine Tours: True Ghosts of Vegas
A few authentic goosebumps are bound to tingle your spine at Techatticup mining camp in Eldorado Canyon just 40 miles southeast of the modern day Strip. This is where Vegas’s true gold began and churned out fortunes between 1861 and the start of World War II. The ore was melted into gold bars in the camp's smelter and then hauled to the Colorado River a few miles away to be sent downstream to Yuma and onto San Francisco through the Gulf of California to the Pacific.
Hot, dusty, in the middle of nowhere, miners came to try their luck in “chasing the vein” and many never returned. The rock here is pocked with gold to this day but the mines were closed up until 1994, when a gutsy family bought the shambles of the old house and lodge, the mine and scads of rusted Jurassic-looking equipment left in the dust. Sixteen years later, the wreckage is now a museum of the history in the area with photos of the miners, the local tribes that hunted them, the claim jumpers that did their share of murdering as well, and the many faces that the mines simply claimed. The brave new owners cleared out the Techatticup mine, boulder by boulder, and restored it enough to give a glimpse of what the conditions were truly like cutting into these tunnels three feet per day and operating only by candlelight.
Eerie sounds can be heard as the tour quietly traverses the tunnels. Stories are told – sad ones, scary ones – while retracing the still visible conveyor tracks in the dust. Then the lights go out. Can’t even see your hand touch your nose. For the cameras that pop in this moment, what is captured can only be considered remarkable. Orbs – those light-driven phenoms said to indicate the presence of an unearthly spirit – have discovered a veritable Grand Central Station for spirits. The tunnels are crowded with miners still trying to stake their fortunes and follow their fate long after they met their demise, whether found on film, sensed on skin or strangely intuited.
One presence in particular has been mired in the mine for more than a century. The spirit of R.B. Jones, an outlaw who shot a foreman at the mine before his own murder, has been noted in many historical documents to have bothered miners with his ghostly presence when the operations were active. The family that owns the mine gives most of the tours and has an extensive collection of documents and stories on hand.
When history is not coming to life in the mine, it is playing to audiences in film. The rambling 51-acre camp has served as set and backdrop for such films as “Breakdown” with Kurt Russell and Kathleen Quinlan, and “3000 Miles to Graceland,” with Kurt Russell, Kevin Costner, Courtney Cox and Christian Slater – many of the stunt props remain in place.
The mine tours are offered year-round and that is because the tunnels maintain a temperature of 70 degrees at all times. Onsite tickets cost $12.50 for adults and $7.50 for children and are limited to12 people in a group. Pink Jeep Tours, the Sedona favorite that now has a branch in Las Vegas, has a four-hour tour to the mine and thorugh Eldorado Canyon that includes hotel pick-up and drop-off, comfortable seating in a 10-passenger air-conditioned van, water, stops for desert turtle sightings and notable spots along the way for rates starting at $89 per person.
Haunted Vegas extends to Boulder City, a dry, non-gambling town right out of Mayberry between Las Vegas and Hoover Dam. The Boulder Dam Hotel, built in 1933, seems frozen in time – a simpler time, although in the height of the Great Depression. The small and quiet Dutch Colonial abode offers lots of hints of Art Deco, plenty of wood trim and comfy writing and reading nooks in the living room lobby. Howard Hughes was one of its more famous guests when he recuperated there after a plane crash.
Posted on January 9, 2012 by Lark Ellen Gould