Desert Queen Mine, Joshua Tree National Park

Mine · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
The Desert Queen Mine in the Colorado Desert was one of the more long-lived gold mines of Southern California's high desert region. The abandoned mine is located in Riverside County, California within the boundaries of the Joshua Tree National Park and is included on the National Register of Historic Places. A hiking trail leads to the mine.
The mine is associated with Jim McHaney, a local cattle rustler, and Bill Keys, a noted rancher. The mine facilities are largely ruinous. The mine was not spectacularly successful but was sufficiently productive to remain in operation for nearly seventy-five years.
The mine itself consisted of several vertical and horizontal shafts, of which four vertical shafts, five inclined shafts, and ten horizontal adits remain. Tailings piles appear in several places, with quantities of machinery scattered about the site.
The mine was established by a man named Frank L. James in the early 1890s. The rich ore initially found prompted local outlaw gang leader and cattle rustler Jim McHaney to take over the mine. McHaney sent two of his men, Charley Martin and a man named Myers, to demand the mine from James. James refused, and Martin shot and killed him with a gun borrowed from Myers, after forcing James to sign over the property. Martin was acquitted of murder charges on grounds of self-defense. When the mine was first claimed by Jim McHaney, it was reported to be the Lost "Peg-Leg" mine of prospector Thomas Long "Pegleg" Smith.

McHaney initially prospered but borrowed heavily to expand and fell behind on payments to the bank, ultimately losing the mine. The mine passed into the hands of William F. Keys around 1917, who operated the mine until 1961.
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Desert Queen Mine reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.0
8 reviews
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4.6
TripAdvisor
  • Off the Queen Valley dirt road off that goes north from the main road at the north end of the park that most people won't deal with, it's not too far before, on the right fork, you'll come across a...  more »
  • This short, reasonably marked hike takes you to an overlook. Across a valley you'll see the remains of a gold mine that closed in 1961. There's not really much left to see of the mine, but the valley....  more »
Google
  • This is an excellent, short hike suitable for just about all fitness levels. There are also two other trailheads there: Pine City, which is about 1.5 miles, and my favorite, the Lucky Boy Loop, which is about 4 miles. Please remember to pack out your trash and stay on the trails. Leave no trace!
  • Really neat area where you can see several entrances to the underground mines
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