Established as a mining camp in the 1880s, Ibex Springs on the southeastern border of Death Valley National Park, is probably one of the parks least visited areas and that’s exactly why I wanted to check it out.

The ruins of Ibex Springs is less than 6 miles west off of highway 127. I knew there was a chance my 2WD vehicle might not make it all the way there and I ended up being right.

I knew there was a chance my 2WD vehicle might not be able to make it all the way there and I ended up being right.

Ibex Spring Road is a sandy dirt road that is prone to washouts. We made it to this point, parked the car and hiked the remaining 2.5 miles to the site.

The sandy dirt road crosses over an eroded flood plain and is prone to washouts. When we reached this deep gully, we parked the car and hiked the remaining 2.5 miles to the site.eroded flood plain

While 2.5 miles isn't that long of a hike, it felt like it took forever to get there.

While 2.5 miles isn’t that long of a hike, it felt like it took forever to get there.

Copper and silver were discovered here in 1881 but by the mid-1930's Talc mining was king. white splashes of talc from the Moorehouse, Pleasanton and Monarch Mines.

The white spots on the distant hills are the Pleasanton, Monarch and Moorehouse Talc Mines. Yup, that’s talc.

In 1881 two young miners, Frank Denning and Stanley Miller, discovered outcrops of silver and copper here, and for some unknown reason named their find the Ibex (Ibex are mountain goats native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, none of which are to be found within several thousand miles of this location, but the name persisted, now marking two mountains, a range of hills, two passes, a spring and a wash).

In the early 1880s, two men found an outcrop of cooper and silver here and named it Ibex. By 1882 the men sold their claim to a Chicago syndicate who formed the Ibex Mining Company. They erected a five-stamp mill three miles southeast of the mine and the camp soon came to be known as Ibex Springs.

Double Trouble

Double Trouble

Mining activity during this time was sporadic due to lack of fuel and water.

Mining activity during this time was sporadic due to lack of fuel and water.

 a small smelting furnace was constructed in 1884, further taxing the sparse supply of fuel.

A small smelting furnace was constructed in 1884, further taxing the sparse supply of fuel.

The stifling summer heat often caused suspension of operations

The stifling summer heat was also a problem, often forcing the mine to cease operations for several months out of the year.

After seven years the company gave up, and it is thought that they may have broken even before quitting in 1889.

After seven years of operating the mine, the company finally gave up in 1889.

About 1907 there was renewed activity when rich silver copper deposits were discovered nearby. Some of the ore was of high quality, but there was darn little of it, and due to the punishing remoteness of the site nothing came of this find.

Around 1907 there was renewed activity when rich silver copper deposits were discovered nearby. While some of the ore was of high quality, there just wasn’t enough of it to justify operations starting up again at the desolate and remote location.

During the 1930s until the 1960s Ibex was resurrected as a residential town for talc mining at the Pleasanton, Moorehouse, Monarch and Rob Roy claims a short distance away. Talc, because of it’s asbestos content, is no longer favored as baby powder and it’s market vanished. Most of the structures that remain at Ibex, the mines and the car in the nearby tin can alley date from that era.

From the mid-1930s until the 1960s, Ibex was resurrected as a small mining camp for the nearby talc mines.

Miner's Cabin @ Ibex Springs

Miner’s Cabin @ Ibex Springs

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You can't beat the views.

You can’t beat the views.

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All the structures that you see around the springs were going to be bulldozed by the Park Service. However, Bill Mann and the Mojave River Valley Museum were able to stop the demolition by becoming stewards of the site. Please assist them by not littering and taking only photographs.

The National Park Service has assigned a policy of “benign neglect” to the remaining structures that are left standing.

The National Park Service Historic Resource Study: A History of Mining from March 1981: Due to the great predominance of the scene by the modern talc mining camp, there is very little historic integrity left at Ibex Springs. The modern camp is certainly not of historic significance. The early 20th-century stone ruins have more interest, but due to a great proliferation of such type ruins throughout the Monument, and the fact that the more modern structures negate the integrity of these remains, preservation efforts are not warranted on this site. Since the older stone ruins are small, difficult to locate, and are tucked away out of sight of the rest of the camp, a policy of benign neglect should lead to no more than natural deterioration of the site.

An excerpt from “The National Park Service Historic Resource Study: A History of Mining”:
Due to the great predominance of the scene by the modern talc mining camp, there is very little historic integrity left at Ibex Springs. The modern camp is certainly not of historic significance. The early 20th-century stone ruins have more interest, but due to a great proliferation of such type ruins throughout the Monument, and the fact that the more modern structures negate the integrity of these remains, preservation efforts are not warranted on this site. Since the older stone ruins are small, difficult to locate, and are tucked away out of sight of the rest of the camp, a policy of benign neglect should lead to no more than natural deterioration of the site.

Its surprising how much is still standing.

It’s surprising how much is still standing.

Bill Mann and the Mojave River Valley Museum were able to stop the demolition by becoming stewards of the site. Please assist them by not littering and taking only photographs.

Bill Mann and the Mojave River Valley Museum have become stewards of the site.

They've installed a plaque...

They’ve installed a plaque…

...and provided a cool visitor registration kiosk...

…and provided a cool visitor registration kiosk…

mmm

…for guests to sign in at.

It's also become a place for visitors to deposit their "finds". Removing or possessing natural or cultural resources is prohibited within any national park.

It’s also become a place for visitors to deposit historic artifacts they may have found while exploring the area.

Miner’s shack

Miner’s Shack

Ibex Spring, straight ahead!

Ibex Spring, straight ahead!

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This cabin has great circulation.

This cabin had great A/C…

Best view yet.

…and one of the best views of any of the remaining structures.

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Desert watering holes are difficult places to interpret, and Ibex Springs is no exception.

The “spring” of Ibex Springs is fairly easy to locate.

Near the spring you'll find more buildings in various states of deterioration.

Near the spring you’ll find more buildings in various states of deterioration.

Near the spring you'll find more buildings.

Some are in better shape than others.

This bunkhouse is still in pretty good shape.

This structure, possibly a bathhouse or bunkhouse, remains in pretty good condition after all these years.

1831

The spring, which was the reason for the camp's location, is still abundant today and the greenery that it produces in an otherwise rough desert landscape is visible from miles away as you approach by way of a laborious crossing of an eroded flood plain (4WD recommended). See Ibex soon before it’s gone forever.

The spring, which was the reason for the camp’s location, is still abundant today. A small shed/shelter is built over it which provides desert critters access to the life giving water.

As we approached the spring, a giant horned owl flew off through the willows and palms.

As we approached the spring, a giant horned owl flew off through the willows and palms.

Ibex Springs itself has served many purposes over the years for several groups of people. Its earliest inhabitants were the Shoshone Indians. The earliest miners in the area reported arrowheads, pottery, and stone structures around the spring.

The areas earliest inhabitants were the Shoshone Indians…

The earliest miners in the area reported arrowheads, pottery, and stone structures around the spring.

…and miners in the area reported finding arrowheads, pottery, and stone structures around the spring.

During our four hour exploration, we were the only two people in the entire area. No 4x4s or motorcycles on the nearby dirt roads and none of the irritating or obnoxious crowds one usually encounters in the more touristy areas of the park. Hopefully this areas remoteness and difficult access will continue to keep this jewel in the southeastern corner of Death Valley National Park

During our four hour exploration, we were the only two people in the entire area. There were no 4x4s or motorcycles on the nearby dirt roads and none of the irritating or obnoxious crowds one usually encounters in the more touristy areas of the park. We were in DVNP heaven and we weren’t done yet. Before we left the area, we explored the nearby Pleasanton Talc Mine. Its massive collapsing wooden ore bin and white talc walled inner workings were an incredible site to see. You can have a look yourself by checking out my next post: “PLEASANTON TALC MINE: DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK.”