"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

14 July 2013


We'd not been to this set of ruins since our first full summer of living in the mountains. Under monsoon skies we marveled at the remnants of the old mine. A wall of snow that never melts choked the still-open main tunnel, making it nigh on impossible to go more than a few hundred feet down. Of course, there are those who would say crawling into the belly of the earth willingly is tantamount to madness.

Years later, under monsoon skies, there was some new graffiti on the walls. A few things had weathered, and some had weathered away. So it goes. All around the compound were signs stating the site was under reclamation of the Santiago Mill Stewards, and to respect the historical buildings.

It was why we were up there...

I documented only one group, but they were very interested in what we were doing. See, the Forest Service was ready to tear the place down under the auspice of attractive  nuisance-pot hunters and vandals-had some group not stepped up to intervene. Take stewardship. The preservationist got a mess of together for the cause. I've never been one for joining, and causes, other than my own sense of go-my-own-way, have often been a dubious proposition, but this one captured my imagination.

As the storm clouds slithered and coiled along the highest peaks in the manner of Chinese dragons we shared knowledge and stories with a small group of prospectors. They headed down the mountain after giving well-wishes and signing our little notebook when the last of the sun and turquoise was swallowed by slate and the first fat drops of rain started to fall upon the tundra. We waited for the sky to open up.

Those of you playing along at home know I do not believe in good and evil. Such things are human made constructs, attempting to make order in a universe filled with chaos. Be that as it may, when one of our lot made a remark about doing something on the side of light, I couldn't help but smile slightly. Perhaps, in context, good wasn't such a black and white concept, and we were, indeed, doing a good thing. 


  1. A few hundred feet down!!!???
    I'm trying to visualize what that's like, and why you would DO that.
    Is there an elevator? Is there elevator music?
    Is there a little man in a red suit to ask you if you're "going down?"

    Is his name Santiago?

  2. A few hundred feet back into the mine, and, yes, there may indeed be a drop. Personally, I am not fond of dark, cold, holes in the ground. Sabina loves them.

    The moniker itself intrigues me, and something I want to clarify with the county archivist. I'll get back to you.

  3. I have always agreed with the sentiment about crawling into the belly of the earth being tantamount to madness - but that's mainly because of my fear of bats LOL.

    1. I can't say I'm found of millions of tons of earth being on top of me, but Sabina finds it fun. She also loves bats ;).