One of the first things I did after relocating to canyon was, naturally, to begin the search for caves and mines. While there’s no shortage of solution caves in the walls of the Grand Canyon, almost all are located along the river corridor or in otherwise inaccessible locations, and few are of any substantial length.
So far I’ve found the many abandoned mining operations in and around the canyon have been much more rewarding. These are shaft-style mines, rather than the larger quarry mines that are common throughout the Ozarks in places like Carthage and Springfield. As such, they more closely resemble the stereotypical "Hollywood" mine.
They also tend to vary a great deal in terms of construction and design. The Last Chance Mine is interesting because it was built on a plateau called Horseshoe Mesa, which is located inside the canyon, halfway between the rim and the Colorado River. A special trail had to be constructed in order for workers to reach the mine, which is still in use by hikers today, and miners were forced to live in camps on the mesa for extended periods of time, due to their remote location.
The mine itself is comprised of several levels which run horizontally throughout the depth of the mesa, connected by vertical shafts. Machines are located at the top and bottom, once used to circulate air throughout the system of tunnels, and a couple of mine cart tracks run through the lower levels of the mine.
The Last Chance started out as a copper mine, and copper is still abundant there, as evidenced by the green-hued walls. I believe it may have been converted into a silver mine at one time, but I’ve been unable to substantiate that claim. Regardless, the mine failed to turn a profit due to the logistics of operating in a place like the Grand Canyon, and was abandoned around the turn of the century.
I’ve been to the Last Chance twice now, most recently with Arch, but have only scratched the surface in terms of exploration. I hope to return shortly when Zen Master comes to visit, and will update if we find anything of interest.
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