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Searching for Ripsey Mine

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Call me a romantic. I’m not big on flowers and gifts or candlelight dinners. Nope, instead I took my valentine out to the boonies and let her enjoy hot dusty trails in search of the elusive Ripsey Mine. I even let her open several gates. No wonder she loves me.

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Ripsey Mine supposedly is just west of Kearney in the Tortilla Mountains. It was also purported to be a rich deposit of copper, gold, lead and silver in the area. It opened in the early 1900’s and was worked until about 1911. Then apparently more work was done there off and on but it last produced in 1941. Since I didn’t quite get there you can see some great pictures at www.experience-az.com

We went prepared. I drew a rough map from memory after studying Google maps. I had the GPS co-ordinates which are: N33°00’11” by W110°58’31” and I knew we had to take the Tecolote road which takes off to the south from the Florence Kelvin hwy. Directions I found somewhere were to go 5.4 miles on Tecolote road, turn left on an unnamed road and go 1.9 miles and you’re there! With all this information how could we not find it? And since there are supposed to be at least a dozen other old mines in the area: Hackberry, Copper King, Roaring Gulch, Silver Queen, etc. we might even stumble on one of them too.

Wrong! First off Tecolote Road is not signed. We went through a gate and took what I’m pretty sure is Tecolote Road. Now the fun began. The place is a maze of roads. We crossed a few dry sandy washes, opened a few more gates, drove in a big circle and past several corrals and stock ponds and then by chance found a dynamite storage shack in a wash. Wow! we’re getting close now. We drove down the wash, climbed a couple hills, followed the trail under the power line, crossed the Arizona Trail two or three times, opened another gate, went through some washed out gullies and came to a dead end at a fish and game water collection facility. Fish and Game puts these places out in the boonies for the wildlife. Back a ways we tried another trail that took us past what must have been an old mill site where there were some foundations and a big flat area. Then through another gate, through some more washed out gullies and man we were only a half mile away. Then the trail ended for us. About halfway down a steep hill most of the road was gone. I figure there was a narrow three foot wide ribbon of it left with a four foot deep gully on one side and a thirty foot drop off on the other. I’m getting attached to my jeep and didn’t want to leave it at the bottom of a ravine so we backed out. Maybe I’ll come back another day with a road crew.

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