The Golden Turkey Mine(AZ) – 02/07/10

5am and the house smells of fresh brewed coffee.  As I stumble to the kitchen I hit the dimmer and bring the light up slowly.

Quiet as a mouse with coffee no further than arms reach at all times, I begin to get ready for a day of adventure and unknown.

530 am and half a pot of coffee later my lunch is made and packed, water and soda in the neighboring cooler.  Life is good.  Still sleepy though.

550 am, showered, packed and ready to do this.

Slowly 10 minutes go by and Kao from Solitude Underground and his buddy Desert Fox have arrived.

In no time their gear is unloaded and ready to be reloaded into the Hummer.  We socialize briefly, they meet the wife as she comes out to say “goodbye” and we pack it up.

First stop of the day, The Golden Turkey!The road was a bit muddy but not too bad.  Actually pretty well compacted from the rain allowing for a nice ride to our first stop.  Oddly enough, Kao and I discussed this very mine a couple nights earlier only we had no idea we were talking about the same mine.

Incidentally, I knew about a building he said had burned down here because my daughter and I had visited that very building some years ago before the fire.  I’m not sure I have pictures but will have to look and if I do, I’ll share them with you.  By the way, in my research I found an interesting article on that building HERE.  I’m guessing though, that this was before they caved in the main entrance to the mine too.  I say this because that day we ran into a couple of guys doing some recon for a future visit.  They mentioned that the electrical seemed to be in good shape and lights were still strung throughout and they planned on coming back with a generator.

I also tried finding this very same place to show Darcy on our way home from our Honeymoon in Crown King.  I didn’t find much because I slashed a sidewall just inside the mine area.

Here we go!It wasn’t until after our exploration of this mine did I see where the original tunnel had been collapsed.  Hence the need to squeeze into this opening to about 2000′ of workings off the main tunnel.  Interestingly enough, a warm humid air was coming out of the mine which was quite a contrast to the 44 degree morning.

It took me a few minutes of staring at the cracks in the rock above the opening to get up the nerve to continue.  When I explore mines, I’m very aware of the condition of the opening and it’s makeup which usually gives me an idea of what to expect.  I wasn’t feeling warm and fuzzy with this opening.

After being convinced that 200′ into the mine I’d feel better, I went for it.  It’s what I came out to do damn it and I wasn’t going to sit this one out.

So I fired up my headlamp, checked all my gear and crawled in being ever so careful as to not disturb the rock above me.

No turning back!While it felt like there was no turning back, I knew I could always go back the way I came at any point and say “Piss on it!” but I continued.  Further in we went until we were far enough from the opening that our lights really started to kick in.  It was at this point that we shut our lights off for a few minutes to let our eyes adjust to the darkness.

A practice I’ve never really engaged in until now, it makes sense.  A few minutes later we fired up our lights and it was like daylight.

Deeper into the mine we went, sometimes crawling through passages only to reach chambers that only allowed us to rise on our knees.  Huge timbers were used to support the crushing granite above as well as mounds of gob rock to assist in supporting the ceiling of the mine.

Not all of the mine was a tight fit, there were some miscellaneous areas that we could walk through tunnels only to be back on our knees just around the bend but it was a nice relief for the legs.  Knees were fine, I’ve got some great pads that I picked up at Home Depot to do the Silo.

Walk this way!I think just about every mine I’ve been in until now was one that contained tunnels I could walk in.  This was a completely new experience for me in a few ways.   There is a big difference in walking a tunnel as opposed to crawling it.  The thing you don’t want to happen, is letting your mind wander.  There came a point where anxiety was really kicking in and I had to slow down, relax and get a grip.  It had nothing to do with being claustrophobic, because that’s never been an issue with any of the places I’ve gone.  This was something new and completely different.

See, from entering the mine, I was watching my surroundings very closely and was getting uneasy about some of the cracking and collapsed rock I was seeing.  I read the news, I know what happens in mines.

After taking a moment to chill, we continued on.  We were actually trying to make our way deeper into the mine where there was said to be a pump still down there, but alas it was not going to happen.  The tunnel was under water.

Broken supportAs we continued through the mine, there was evidence that suggests this mine may not be around forever.  It was at this point we all pretty much started to agree that this would be our last visit to The Golden Turkey.  We had hoped of course that that would be by choice and not fate.

That’s not to say the mine was not interesting, because it was.  I saw some new things that I hadn’t seen before such as wooden crates that once held explosives as well as a totally different kind of mine in general.

We wound are way through the workings and made our way out via another access point.  Lucky for us this entry was exploited, or we would’ve been back-tracking all the way to where we started.  It probably would’ve been a quick trip since we wouldn’t be exploring and taking side trips, but it still would’ve been nerve racking.

Having spent about 3 hours in The Golden Turkey, it was time to move on to the mine we really came to see.  The De Soto.

Before we get to the De Soto though, check out the rest of the Golden Turkey pictures over HERE.

Thanks for your interest,


8 comments to The Golden Turkey Mine(AZ) – 02/07/10

  • I thought I’d share the following interesting article I found HERE from February 18, 2003 with you.

    PRESCOTT, Ariz.— The Prescott National Forest is requesting public comment on the Final Report of the Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EECA) for the Golden Turkey, Golden Belt, French Lily Mines project (aka Turkey Creek Mines site). All public comments are welcome and will be accepted until close of business on March 20, 2003.

    Following this comment period, a final decision will be made by the Regional Forester, Southwestern Region, and the decision will be documented in a Removal Action Memorandum identifying the removal action decision.

    The purpose of the EE/CA is to present a detailed analysis of reclamation alternatives that can be used for decision-making. In addition, the analysis presented in this document includes discussion of background information, waste characteristics, applicable or relevant and appropriate requirements (ARAR), a risk assessment, and the development and screening of reclamation alternatives.

    The Site Investigation and the EE/CA conclude that the Golden Turkey, Golden Belt, French Lily Mines site has environmental concerns related to mining, milling, and processing of heavy metal containing ores and to the the disposal of associated wastes at the site. The environmental and ecological threats of primary concern include the exposure of occasional visitors and campers at this site to mill tailings and contaminated soil, the proximity of this material to Turkey Creek, and the shallow depth to groundwater.

    Copies of the EE/CA are available at the Prescott National Forest Supervisor’s Office (344 S Cortez St, Prescott AZ). A copy of the Administrative Record is also available at the Prescott National Forest Supervisor’s Office.

  • Matthew

    Awesome! I spent a summer at the Golden Turkey when I was a kid. We were never allowed in the mine. I have always wanted to go in.

  • Spent a summer there? Ouch, that must have been hot for sure! I can’t say I blame folks for not letting kids near that one, but it was probably in better shape then it is now too. Granted there were some solid parts of the mine, but much of it kept me very alert and nervous at the same time.
    That day was pretty awesome actually. I was able to explore the scariest mine I’d ever been in and the best mine as well. That being the DeSoto.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment and have a great day!

  • Pamela Bos

    I want this to go through before I start writing because I lived on the Turkey Mine House outside of
    Cleator 1979 to 1985 and also had the taxes on house plus alot of pictures.

    Thank You Pam Bos – Gauthier

  • Pam

    I’m suprised anyone could be interested in the Golden Turkey mine. It’s just history to what was. I
    lived their in 1979 to 1985 in the old mining house which was made into a home. Before that it was used
    for the miner’s dining room and office .My husband owned the house and 7 to 9 claims around it.Guy Michel
    was the 1st owner before the war and produced most of the ore.The history of the mine is at the Mining
    and Mineal Musuem in Phoenix. I still have alot of pictured of the house and memories of all the people
    that lived up there.

    Thank You Pam

  • WOW Pam, thanks so much for taking the time to share a bit of your story. There is just so much amazing history in that region, it is always nice to meet someone with a new story to tell.
    If we are talking about the same house, that was one of the first places I took my daughter to explore, although it has burned down since.
    I do enjoy pictures of the area since it really puts so much into perspective. It’s a shame there are not more out there though.

    It would be wonderful to hear some good ol stories sometime.
    Take care and have a wonderful week,

    Robert 🙂

  • Mack Dianne

    Robert just checking in to see if you are still replying to your turkey mine adventure. We are family of the manly family who owned the mine at one time.  Wanted to communicate with you about some questions.  It was approximately 1963 when my family traveled out to visit my aunt Samar who owned the mine.

  • Hi Mack and welcome!

    Yes indeed, happy to have folks drop by who have a story to tell or pictures to share.  What questions do you have and maybe I can answer them or at least do some research?  1963 huh?  That’s awesome, I bet so much has changed since then.  You can get back to me here in the comments or use the form HERE to drop me a note.

    Thanks for stopping and taking the time to leave a note.  Have a great afternoon.


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