If you go towards the Mayan Palace south and east of Puerto Peñasco and go just past it, there is a road that goes off to the left and goes to the Gillespie Gold Mine. It is located in a pretty rugged area, so I would say 4 wheel drive is a must and it would not hurt to have a traveling companion. On our trip to the mine, we stopped at an old open well and one of the men threw a stone down into it and from the sound it appeared to be about 90′ deep. I choose to walk along the railroad track and pick up old railroad spikes, which I still have a plan to have one of the local welders make a cross out of them for my cross collection. We passed a couple of cars from the late 20’s-30’s that were just left there to rust.
Recently while having stone work done on our home, we were introduced to Ray Sandoval who owns the property right next to it. He explained how he chips away by hand the different colored rock with basically a chisel and hammer. The rock come in all different colors and sizes and many of them have traces of gold, silver, copper and quartz in them. It was interesting to see the pieces with the ore in them. They can lay them in various size pieces on your walls of your home or stack them in pieces anywhere fro 1/2″ thick to 1″ thick. This work is a labor of love and it shows in the finished product.
At the Gillespie Mine years ago there was a man and his two sons who mined gold. I accompanied a group of winter visitors out to the mine one year and was shocked to see the mine shaft that they used to enter. There was about 20 of us and everyone was so excited to go down into the mine with Bobby Unser being the lead dare devil. As we descended, we were about 30 -40 steps down into the mine when the woman behind me stepped the wrong way and I heard this loud noise like something cracking. Needless to say, I was headed past her and out of there and volunteered to take their photo if and when they came up.
The old man explained that they were getting about an ounce of gold per month by hand picking the ore. At that time gold was worth about $300 USD per ounce. We all shook our heads that they were so determined to do this sort of job, mind you there is no OSHA in Mexico.
Now in later years, the mining industry has really grown up and now there are many new ones between Puerto Peñasco and Caborca as well as all of Sonora. They are getting a lot of silver, gold, copper and more out of the stone due to the modern techniques they are using. There several hundred mines in the State of Sonora that are in either the exploration or production state. They are owned by companies from Canada, USA, Korea, Chile, Japan, Australia, China, USA/Mexico just to name a few. You can go to the General Director of Mining Development website to learn more of them. This is now a very large business for Sonora and Mexico.
There is a book called Gillespie’s Gold written by Earl Mac Pherson and I managed to buy a signed copy years ago off of E-Bay. It is the story about Bernard A. Gillespie and it was a book I could not put down. If you ever take the back road from Phoenix to Gila Bend you will traverse over the old earthen Gillespie Dam which goes over the Gila River. The dam was built somewhere between 1920 and 1935 and it is a narrow one lane bridge, but it is amazing to drive over it and the last thing you want to do is meet an 18 wheeler coming towards you. It was also somewhere in this time frame that B.A. ( as he was known) acquired the Sierra Pinta mine.
Bernard Gillespie was loved by the Mexican people of the area and became known as “Patron.” Beside owning the gold mine, he owned a large parcel of land which is now known as Bahia San Jorge and the last time I was there his old stone house was still standing.
So pack a picnic lunch and head out to Playa San Jorge to go clamming, fishing, shelling or just relax on the pristine beach. Turn at the entrance to where it says Playa San Jorge and you will see several homes out there where folks have escaped the city life of quads and rhinos that speed up and down the city streets.
If you have the time on one of your trips down to Rocky Point and take the back roads over the old Gillespie Earthen Dam. It is a narrow 2 lane bridge but the scenery is well worth the time as you drive over the dam and through a lot of agriculture and you will end up just east of Gila Bend, Arizona. Bernard had a vast holding of land in that area as well.
Pictures from the book Gillespie’s Gold.